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Monday, December 24, 2012

Next Iron Chef: Redemption - Episode 8: Passion/Respect Finale Recap

Only three chefs remain for this final episode. Chefs Alex Guarnaschelli, Amanda Freitag, and Nate Appleman have to compete in the Chairman's Challenge of Passion. Each judge selected one key ingredient that they each wanted to have in their last meal on Earth; the chefs had to select blindly from the three. Since Freitag had won the most challenges, she got the advantage of choosing first. She picked card #3, Farm Chicken. Appleman selected card #2, Haddock. He pointed out he was not passionate about haddock, but would be for the sake of competition. Guarnaschelli, by default, received card #1, Sea Urchin. The chefs had 45 minutes in the kitchen of Fiama Trattoria, in the MGM Grand., to prepare one dish that showed passion for the ingredient.

Freitag went with a dish that would highlight crispy skin, moist inner meat, and fat from the chicken. One technique she used was removing the skin from the chicken thighs, laying it out flat, dusting with all-purpose and rice flours, and frying to a rich golden crispiness. She was using a lot of "lusty" lemon, and a basic roast on the typical vegetables.

Guarnaschelli wanted to show the passion for sea urchin and sunchokes she developed when she first arrived in France. She wanted to create a flan in the shell with Brussels sprouts and sunchokes, while highlighting the fluffy urchin and lemon.

Appleman decided to go with a clam chowder type dish with the haddock, a memory from his childhood. He wanted to create the smokiness of a chowder, and used a sous vide cooking method to slow poach the haddock.

Chef's Challenge Judging

Nate Appleman was first up with his Poached Haddock and Clam Chowder, with the ingredient chosen by Simon Mujamdar. Simon enjoyed the bacon and broth components, but felt some of the clams were a bit underdone, chewy, and didn't add anything to the chowder. Donatella loved the parsley buttered crumb topping. And Geoffrey didn't pick up any of the intended smokiness of the dish, but said it envoked the childhood memories tied to the dish.

Amanda Freitag was up next with her Lusty Lemon Roasted Chicken, featuring lemon ricotta, smaltz, and crispy chicken skin. (In case you don't know, smaltz is rendered chicken fat, a key ingredient in Kosher/Jewish cooking.) This ingredient is the one that Geoffrey Zakarian said must be in his last supper. He thoroughly enjoyed the dish, and raved accordingly. Donatella loved the lusciousness of it. Simon had nothing bad to say, either, including how wonderful the Parmesan chicken jus was. It was very obviously to anyone watching at this point, Chef Freitag smashed this one out of the park, and clearly would be moving into the final battle in Kitchen Stadium.

Finally, Alex Guarnaschelli was up for judgment with Donatella's last supper ingredient, sea urchin, in the form of Sea Urchin Custard, with Corn, Brussels Sprouts, and Sunchokes. Donatella was worried it would be too isoteric of a dish, but assured us, her worries were unfounded. Besides the unique custard, Alex stepped outside her comfort circle to produce a foam! Was she drawing inspiration from Marcel with that move? Her foam consisted of the sea urchin liquid from within the shell, water, lemon juice, and butter, to represent the movement of the ocean. A very bold move, but garnered criticism from Simon that he would have liked a little more lemon in it. He did, however, love the sweetness the corn imparted to the dish. Geoffrey felt the custard was not custardy enough. And Donatella loved the dish.

Clearly, it was between Alex and Nate for the spot opposite Amanda. It seemed very close; Nate lacking smokiness and having some underdone clams, and Alex with her not custardy enough custard (?) and lacking lemon in the foam. When it was all discussed and decided, I was happy to see Alex move on to face Amanda. With either of these ladies, I would be happy.

The Final Battle in Kitchen Stadium
The two finalists find themselves in front of Alton Brown and The Chairman in Kitchen Stadium. Brown reveals the theme of the final battle is Respect. In accordance to this, as additional judges, three of the senior Iron Chefs were on hand: Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, and Michael Symon. Brown reveals the secret ingredients. There were three categories on the podium, to pay homage to each of the senior Iron Chefs: Southwest ingredients (avocado, lime, chiles) to represent Flay, Asian ingredients (a shill for Kikkoman products, including Panko, ponzu, soy sauce, daikon radish, wasabi), and Mediterranean ingredients (olives, feta, phyllo, egglplant) to represent Symon.

The chefs needed to select two ingredients from each set, and create three dishes that would show Respect and pay tribute to the Iron Chefs they would be joining, upon winning. They had the normal 60 minutes, that was customary for Kitchen Stadium battles.

I won't even begin to try to type commentary for the actual action in the kitchen. I feel that's just something one would have to see for themselves.

Dishes were presented to the judges in an alternating pattern, just to confuse the hell out of us, I believe.

Guarnaschelli presented her tribute to Morimoto: Scallops with Hen the Wood Mushrooms. Her dish featured miso marinated shallots. Symon liked the way Guarnaschelli transformed the Morimoto flavors. Simon had one over cooked scallop. Flay loved the dish. Morimoto loved her vision of her dish.

Freitag created a Feta Burratta Caprese with lime, feta, and ponzu. Symon loved the Mediterranean dish. Zakarian appreciated it, and Flay thought it was more of a Morimoto dish. I was a bit puzzled with that comment.

Guarnaschelli's nod to Chef Symon was a Lamb Loin with Fennel, Olives, and Eggplant. The eggplant puree was thee star of the dish, all around.

Freitag showed her respect to Chef Symon also with lamb, in the form of a Lamb Loin with Charred Eggplant Yogurt & Chermoula. A chermoula is simple herbs, cumin, cayenne, and lemon. The dish was smokey, and Symon felt the sous vide cooking of the eggplant may have caused it to lose its bitterness, but kept its texture.

Guarnaschelli's Flay dish was a dessert, Cherry Tart with Pasilla and Lime, with crème fraiche ice cream with lime. Flay loved it, and felt it was brilliant. Other judges raved it was brilliant, inspired, stunning, "best dish","favorite", smart, and bursting with flavor! Obviously, this was the best dish of the battle. Was it enough to win it all for Alex?

Freitag created a dessert of a Brown Sugar Corn Cake with Miso Honey Ice Cream, featuring a blueberry ginger compote. The main critical point was from Flay, that it was too much on the savory side. 

All the judges then conferred and we were brought to the setting of the tapestry pictures of the reigning Iron Chefs. The Chairman stood before the covered tapestry and they did the customary talk to the contestants. Brown pointed out, truthfully, that both of them had gained redemption. But in the end, only one chef could reign supreme... 

The Next Iron Chef is...

Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli

I was beyond excited to see her win, but would have been happy to have either her or Freitag as the winner. And already, Guarnaschelli gets a chance at a little revenge next week, in her first Battle against Chef Judy Joo, the judge that caused her elimination in last season's Next Iron Chef. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Next Iron Chef: Redemption - Episode 7: Transcendence Recap

This episode opens with the four remaining chefs: Marcel Vigneron, Alex Guarnaschelli, Amanda Freitag, and Nate Appleman standing in the museum of magic in Las Vegas, with Alton Brown sitting in a helicopter cockpit, living out some odd dream of him being a 'copter pilot. Alton introduces the group to famous illusionist David Copperfield, who acts (poorly, I should add) shocked that he has sold more tickets to his performances than anyone, including Lady GaGa. Then, Alton stands aside as Copperfield carries out this gimmicky, confusing, and all around unnecessary illusion with cards to reveal the ingredient for the Chairman's Challenge to "Transcend" the typical buffet style meal. After suffering through all the confusion, it is finally revealed that the ingredient/theme would be... BACON! There will need to be three hot dishes, and two hot dishes, from each team, prepared and presented in two hours.

The chefs would be placed into two teams of two. Freitag had the advantage from the last win, so she got to choose her teammate; she picked Appleman. This put Alex and Marcel together. In the side commentary, Alex makes it clear she is not happy with her partner selection. As the twist, the non-winning team would be the two competitors in the Secret Ingredient Showdown. So eloquently put by Alex on several points in the episode, "Friends become Frenemies!" Sorry, Alex, does that mean you consider Marcel to be your buddy?

Before I get into the Chairman's Challenge, I should point out what I think about the contestants. Guarneschelli is my favorite, by far. Over the past few weeks, I have really come to like Appleman, as well. Both would be great Iron Chefs. Freitag wouldn't be a poor choice, either. But when it comes to Vigneron, I have not been able to stand him the entire season, thus far. I really wish he had made an exit with his "Bro", dude. Now, onto the Challenge!

Team Alex/Marcel decided to take the buffet to a French Bistro style. Marcel got all into his own selfish mind, and was about to piss himself with the idea of innoculating every dish with bacon. He was dead set on "bacon-wrapped bacon", but Alex seemed to have talked him down from it. After planning the menu, Alex and Marcel got down to business. Marcel immediately became a selfish little bitch by keeping the entire jar of sugar on a shelf over his station; Appleman retrieves the sugar for his teammate. Also, it seemed that Marcel went ahead and started the bacon-wrapped bacon, without letting his partner know he returned to that idea. He tossed a pork belly into the pressure cooker, and then wrapped it in a mat of bacon. While this is taking place, Alex does a basic roast chicken that has been mummified in bacon. When Marcel spies the chickens in the oven, he goes on and on about how he would seduce and mount them, and refers to them as "hot sex on a plate". I could have really done without the imagery of the offspring of a chicken and Vigneron. *shudder* And to be honest, I was not impressed with Marcel's idea to make a chocolate mousse with bacon.

Team Freitag/Appleman got to work on some very tasty-sounded creations. While Appleman's country fried bacon (which he credits from watching Good Eats) sounds fantastic, I wasn't really sure if he should be tempting fate with crepes while he couldn't pull off a good pancake, last time. As Freitag fills and rolls the crepes, she proudly boasts that her crepes "will bring all the boys to the yard". Indeed, Amanda, they just might.

The teams had to decorate their own buffet table. Alex tossed together something decent, which Marcel, much to her dismay, completely re-decorated. Appleman, smartly, realized he only had to make their table look better than Alex & Marcel's.

And in typical food television challenges, it appears neither team will get done in time. *GASP* Wow, they did finish just in the nick of time!!!

For the tasting and judging, Donatella, Simon, and Geoffrey were joined by Hal Rubenstein from InStyle Magazine, apparently to judge the buffet presentation?

First up is Team Freitag & Appleman. They transcended the buffet by going "petite". You know, when I think of all you can eat buffets, I think "petite". Their dishes included:

* BLT Salad with Jalapeno Lime Vinaigrette, with the deep fried bacon
* Lobster Crepe with Canadian Bacon
* Bacon Roasted Potatoes, cooked in bacon fat, with shitake mushrooms, asparagus, finished with sherry
* Honey Mustard Pork Belly with a cheddar, bacon biscuit, on their carving station
* The Elvis Brulee, Peanut Butter Pudding, Bacon Peanut Brittle

Simon did not enjoy the salad, as his was basically void of the dressing. A diner they showed also complained of the omission. All the judges seemed to agree that the pork belly was just too "mustard-forward" and was overwhelmed by it. Everything else seemed to please the judges, except the fashion judge did not approve of how the table was dressed. The Elvis dessert garnered praise from all the judges, and was deemed the best dessert of the competition!

Next was Team Guarneschelli & Vigneron. Their method to transcend the typical buffet was to go French Bistro on it. Their dishes were:

* Leeks & Eggs with Bacon Vinaigrette: a classic bistro dish
* Lobster Bacon Burre Monte with Potatoes: poached lobster in the bacon butter, with fried fingerling  potatoes
* Bacon Wrapped Chicken
* Bacon Wrapped Pork Belly with Brussels Sprouts
* Chocolate Mousse with Bacon Pecan Streussel

Geoffrey observed immediately that the leeks were undercooked in their opening dish. Then, he pointed out that everything in the lobster burre monte dish tasted the same. Let me guess... did it all taste like bacon, perchance? The bacon-wrapped chicken from the carving station brought mixed reactions. Simon thought they were juicy. Donatella said the ingredient was transcended. Uhm... what does that mean? And Hal knocked them for being unattractive and just "piled" in that pan. Question: If they are on a carving station, what does it matter how they look prior to being sliced? Everyone seemed to enjoy the bacon-wrapped bacon. The mousse dessert had broken, and become grainy. Simon smartly states that bacon does NOT make everything better. Hal complained about the presentation of the table, and said that the buffet did not call out to the diner. I'm still baffled why this guy was on the show.

Both teams had negatives: pork belly overwhelmed by the honey mustard, and the undercooked leeks & broken down mousse. The judges decided that Freitag and Appleman would move on, and Guarneschelli and Vigneron would battle in the Secret Ingredient Showdown. Marcel seemed very confident and Alex seemed stressed, as usual. This is Alex's first trip to the elimination round, and Marcel's third. And to note, this is also the point, last season, when Alex was eliminated. Please God, don't let Alex get eliminated against Marcel!

Secret Ingredient Showdown
In the world of product placement, Food Network is beginning to shill nearly as much as Top Chef. In this instance, the secret ingredient was Hershey's chocolate and candy. The contestants had to select two items and create a savory, holiday dish.
Alex chose Bliss White Chocolate and Special Dark, along with duck and radicchio. She created a Duck Breast and White Chocolate Fennel Cherry Salad. Her plating looked fantastic and did a great job showing a holiday theme: the cherries looked like Christmas ornaments, and the shaved white chocolate a nice snow over the dish. The dark chocolate on the duck breast and fried duck heart was a great pairing of flavors, as well as the dark chocolate in the red wine onions. 

Marcel selected Hershey Milk Chocolate Bars and Kisses, to pair with his savory duo of lamb and eggplant. He decides to create Roasted Lamb with Eggplant Caponata. I was confused about the holiday theme with his idea, since caponata is primarily a summer vegetable dish. He worked the chocolate into his eggplant puree, and went with a white chocolate curry risotto. He burned up his first pan of risotto and decided to use a sushi rice in order to cook faster. His lamb never had a chance to cook fully given the time constraints. He broke down the rack of lamb and appeared to be poaching or frying the lamb in chunks, on the stove top.
Vigneron's Showdown Dish, including underdone lamb
Vigneron was first up in the "Chamber of Judgement". Simon was very apprehensive about the white chocolate curry risotto (and who wouldn't be?), but found it to be wonderfully the best dish on the plate. He did not like the undercooked lamb. Geoffrey disagrees about the doneness, and Donatella never voices an opinion, other than a slight head nod.
Guarnaschelli's Showdown Dish
Guarneschelli is praised for her use of the duck heart, but Simon thought it was not well seasoned. The judges enjoyed the flavor compliment of the endive and fennel in her salad. And they thought she was spot on with holiday snow scene of her plating.

After much discussion, it was decided that Chef Alex Guarneschelli would move on to cook another day. Adios, Bro! Marcel made some remark about coming back possibly as a challenger on Iron Chef America in the future. Whatevs...
Time for pouty little Marcel to run home to his Bro', Yo... 
I'm happy with the three final competitors. I can picture any of the three being a great Iron Chef. Of course, my order of favorites: Alex, Nate, Amanda. It will be interesting to see who will be the final matchup. Next Sunday night is the Season Finale, and the new Iron Chef will be chosen!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

1st Anniversary Contest Winner...

Thanks for all the support over the first year! And thanks for all of the 13 entries! I assigned a number to each commenter, and used an online number generator to pick the number. And the winner is...

Trish Deimer-Steineke! 

Congrats, Trish... your prize will be on the way!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Frank About... The Bocuse d'Or World Cuisine Contest

Until I picked up the book Knives at Dawn: America's Quest for Glory at the Legendary Bocuse d'Or Competition by Andrew Friedman, I had never heard about the Bocuse d'Or World Cuisine Contest. I had heard of the Culinary Olympics that take place in Germany every four years; but the Bocuse d'Or is not to be confused with the Culinary Olympics. Friedman's work followed the training and performance of the 2009 Team USA's Captain Timothy Hollingsworth and Commis Adina Guest of Thomas Keller's French Laundry in Napa, California. It's a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it if you have any desire to learn more about the behind the scenes of a real cooking competition.

So, you ask... "What IS the Bocuse d'Or, Frank?" Well, you're in luck; I just happen to feel like dropping some Food Nerdery on you all, today!

Chef Paul Bocuse
In 1987, renowned French chef and ambassador of modern French cuisine, Paul Bocuse, started the biennial contest as a way to showcase a cooking competition performed live in front of an audience. It has been told that the French wanted their own cooking competition, to show their superiority in cuisine, rather than having to go to Germany and not fare so well. So, every two years, teams of two (a Captain and his/her Commis) from 24 countries gather in Lyon, France for the two day competition. They have five and a half hours to complete a meat platter and a fish platter, each with three original garnishes, for the 24 judges. The proteins are announced in advance, in order for proper training, and to become familiar with the specific meat and fish.

The Bocuse d'Or has become a very popular competition in all the participating countries, going as far as having loud, boisterous audiences for each country in the audience while the cooking takes place. There has never been much enthusiasm from the people of the United States. In a world where reality and competition shows rule the airwaves, you would imagine people would clammer to cheer on Team USA and do well keeping up-to-date with the happenings.

This is something that has plagued The Bocuse d'Or USA Foundation. Other countries have provided very large budgets and well-structured training regimen for their teams. In 2008, it was decided that Team USA needed more structure in their training, needed an order to how the team was selected, and overall more support.

The Bocuse d'Or USA Foundation was formed. Daniel Boulud, Jérôme Bocuse (the son of Paul Bocuse), and Thomas Keller make up the Board of Directors. They formed a competition system in the United States to select the representatives to the event in France, to take place approximately a year before the world competition, and a means to fund their team more appropriately.
Team USA Captain Richard Rosendale (l) and Commis Corey Siegel (r)
Captain Richard Rosendale, Executive Chef of The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia & Certified Master Chef, along with his Commis Corey Siegel, beat out three other teams to win the Bocuse d’Or USA on January 28-29, 2012 at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Team USA also includes Coach Gavin Kaysen (2007 competitor, asst coach 2009, 2011) and Tasting Board members Grant Achatz and Gabriel Kreuther.

An exact duplicate of their competition kitchen in Lyon, France was constructed in the basement of The Greenbrier, in order for Rosendale and Siegel to train to the precise size and shape of the competition area, and to the time and schedule they will need in actual competition.

This year's Bocuse d'Or takes place January 29-30, 2013. The meat to be used has been announced as Irish beef filet, with the option to use ox cheek, chuck, and ox tail. The fish dish was very delayed in being announced, and is turbot and European blue lobster.

There were also some major twists revealed, in how the fish platter is to be prepared and presented. Instead of the platter to serve fourteen people, the teams must prepare fourteen individual plates, as they would in a restaurant setting.

On the eve of the contest, the candidates will have 30 minutes to choose seasonal fruit and vegetables from something called the five continents market. They will use the produce and ingredients to prepare two of the three garnishes on the day of the contest. After having acquired the produce and ingredients from the market, the candidates, together with their coach and commis, will have one hour in which to design and write down the recipe for their dish. Then, to highlight the different national culinary heritages and encourage diversity, the third garnish will be typical of the candidates’ respective countries. This new guideline should lead to the introduction of local produce and ingredient. This concept of local has not been seen in the Bocuse d’Or, before now. 

It should be noted that Team USA has never placed better than sixth, on two occasions. Each year, the expectations are high. Let's hope to see them win it all, this year!

Here are some examples of the type of presentations you would see at the Bocuse d'Or: 

Chef Rosendale's chicken platter that won the 2012 Bocuse d'Or USA

Team USA's Lamb platter in the 2011 Bocuse d'Or
Team USA's Monkfish platter in the 2011 Bocuse d'Or
Team USA's Fish platter from the 2009 Bocuse d'Or
Team Denmark's winning Fish platter from 2011 Bocuse d'Or
Team Denmark's winning Fish plate in the 2011 Bocuse d'Or

Frankly Speaking...

Ever since reading Knives at Dawn..., I was hooked on keeping up with the Bocuse d'Or. I find it very fascinating to keep up on the action, and training, of Team USA. I am a huge food geek, though. Even if you don't get excited about things quite this deep, I hope you are at least aware that this takes place, and our country takes part in it.

The platters that these chefs conceptualize is simply mind-boggling and incredible. They have show pieces created just for the presentation of their food. That entire year of training has to materialize into a platter of food that is stunning in its presentation, innovative in its creation, original in its existence, and lastly, delicious and perfected seasoned, balanced, and prepared.

As a side note, part of the competiton is a poster contest! Yes, just like in grade school for "Say No to Drugs Week". Each team has to design their poster, and are voted upon to choose a winner. Here is Team USA's poster:

How can you keep up on the 2013 competition?

Easily! Social media has provided some great means to get all the up-to-date news and happenings!

You can follow Team USA on Twitter and Facebook, and check out their website.

You can keep up with the official Bocuse d'Or feeds, also on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Next Iron Chef: Redemption, Episode 6: Fusion

After a devastating and surprising elimination of Elizabeth Faulkner on last week's episode, and my disgust that the "Bro's" didn't both get sent packing, I had to regain my composure and move on to watching last night's Episode 6: Fusion.

Down to five contestants (Marcel Vigneron, Amanda Freitag, Alex Guarnaschelli, Nate Appleman, and Jehangir Mehta), this episode takes place in Las Vegas. The episode is flaunted as a figurative unconventional marriage of off-the-wall ingredients: The Chairman's Challenge of Fusion.

Alton Brown reveals an eclectic group of components, and begins to act as he is spontaneously pairing them up. Marcel, as the winner of last week's Challenge, gets to assign the "couples" to each of his competitors. He selected the most logical of the pairings, peanut butter & bleu cheese, for his own, as Alton heckles him for choosing the easiest marriage. Then, assigns the remaining vomit-inducing, hideous pairings as follows: squid & miniature marshmallows to Freitag, chicken livers & peppermints to Guarnaschelli, bone marrow & hard, fruit candies (read: Skittles) to Mehta, clams & strawberries to Appleman.

The judges select Freitag's grilled squid with marshmallow horseradish cream and Hungarian paprika sauce and Marcel's blue cheese ice cream, peanut butter powder, peanut butter brittle and peanut butter praline as the best two dishes of the Challenge. Then, they select Amanda Freitag as the winner of the Fusion Challenge.

Alex Guarnaschelli went the salad route, and eeked by for another week. She's my favorite, and really don't want to see her get so rattled and flub up, as she did in last season's Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs. Chef Appleman got dinged based on his undercooked cavatelli in his acqua pazza ("crazy water" in Italian, that is typically a poached seafood dish), while Mehta, justifiably, got placed in the bottom two based on his grilled bone marrow with hard candy chimichurri, pickled fruit candy fennel bread and chile lime fruit candy. Mehta didn't like one of his ingredients, so he did everything possible to un-Skittle them as much as possible! By transforming it from being a hard fruit candy, the judges stated that there was really no "fusion" in his dish. Neither of these two chefs seem to take criticism very well... too bad they didn't think about that before coming onto a cooking competition show!

Battle Shrimp

With the match of Appleman vs. Mehta set in the Secret Ingredient Showdown, I won't be too sad with either going home. (But my wife loves Mehta's voice!)  The Secret Ingredient was shrimp, to be cooked on a teppanyaki, Japanese flat-top griddle. 

Both chefs seem to cut it close at the end of the time period to get their plates finished. Chef Appleman prepared a shrimp and pea pancake with roasted shrimp head, critiqued as a late night drunk food. His unique shrimp oil earned some praise. Unfortunately, he was also criticized on a technique flaw in the pancake. The shrimp head "flavor packet" he created at the last moment was a stroke of genius, and showed great innovation of flavor. Chef Mehta cooked a mustard and cumin shrimp with mung bean salad. Judge Simon felt the lightly breaded and fried pepper was a bit disjointed from the rest of the dish. Judge Zakarian thought the cumin seed was a bit too pronounced, and commented on some still being stuck in his teeth. Mehta's dry humor/sarcasmic snip of "Just wash it out with some water" didn't quite crack up the judges. 

Mehta's Dish
Appleman's Winning Dish

Neither chef seemed to impress the judges, so they felt they had to pick the one that wasn't the worst. In the end, the ingenious shrimp head flavor packet proved to be the most Iron Chef-like quality of the two dishes. Appleman lives on until next week. 

Now, there are four... Guarneschelli and Appleman are my odds on favorites. Marcel can get lost, as far as I'm concerned. And I have nothing against Freitag, but she's just mediocre to me. I would love to see a finale of Appleman vs. Guarneschelli. 

Coming up next week... Vegas style buffet! Should be interesting! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Happy Birthday to Us!

I would often find myself sitting at work thinking about some interesting dish I'd love to make. Or I would be reading some food news online, wishing I had someone with whom to discuss it. It was like my mind was full of ideas, concepts, and they were nearly bursting the seams of my brain to escape. I had this constant yearning that I couldn't put my finger on... something that just kept tugging at me.

One year ago today, I took some friends' advice to start a blog in order to post recipes and food ideas I had. So, I figured what the Hell, and started researching a good place to start a free blog. Then I wrote my very first post! It proved to be the spigot... the pressure relief valve that I needed to release all this (for lack if a better word) "stuff" swimming around in my head.

Now, a year later, Frank About Food sits at nearly 3,200 hits, has its own Facebook page, has delved into some great food and drink topics, has covered food programming, and has provided you with a wide range of recipes.

And all this could not have happened without YOU! So, I'm sending my sincere thanks to each one of you who have supported Frank About Food!

Contest Time!

Now... for a contest!!! What do you have to do to enter? Leave a comment here! I want your suggestions and feedback! What do you like about my project? What could be better? What topics would you like to see covered?

From all the comments, I will randomly select a winner. The prize could vary depending on your location. If you are local, it could be a gift certificate to a local eatery such as Instant Karma. If you aren't, it could be a bag of Cottage Small Coffee Roasters coffee!

One caveat... there must be a minimum of 10 comments for a winner to be selected! Contest deadline has been extended until Friday, Dec. 14 at 6:00pm CST!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New! Next Iron Chef: Redemption Recaps Forthcoming

After seeing how many hits the blog gets every Sunday night and Monday morning via Google Searches about the show, I will start recapping the Sunday night episode right after, or first thing in the morning. I have two episodes on the DVR, and then will begin the recaps this Sunday night! Hope you enjoy!