Archive - October 2012

Alton Brown Discusses The Next Iron Chef’s New Season

Good Eats

The multi-talented Alton Brown, who received a degree in drama from the University of Georgia, has worked as a cinematographer, video director, and steadicam operator.

Brown has also authored five books and hosts Iron Chef America, as well as the upcoming fifth season of The Next Iron Chef.

Brown is the executive producer on the new program for Justin Warner, winner of Next Food Network Star, and is working on a five-part miniseries for Food Network called “Food That Made America” — a historic look at five different foods that were pivotal in defining America.

Zagat’s Kelly Dobkin recently spoke to Brown regarding the new season of Next Iron Chef (premiering Nov. 4), the return of Iron Chef Japan, and how food TV has evolved.

On the premiere of The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, the Web-series winner will join nine returning rivals in Kitchen Stadium for the chance to become The Next Iron Chef.

Brown explains that the entire redemption angle changed the dynamic.

“Every Next Iron Chef up until now has been made up of people who are, excuse the expression, virgins — they may have competed on other shows like Iron Chef but not like this.”

Brown says everyone had a chip on their shoulder, an axe to grind and everybody was prepared for the milieu and ready to dive right in and film.

“The food we got on the very first episode was the quality of what we would normally see on a fifth episode because they were already kind of loaded for bear if you will.”

Brown tells Zagat that normally you see people competing against each other, but this year, first and foremost they were competing against themselves. “There’s strategy, there are tactics now. It’s a game and it requires shrewd players.”

Alton commented that he really likes the option challenge because it forced them to play and gamble. “They really have to gamble with something besides just their cooking skill and that really is interesting to watch.”

When asked about Iron Chef Japan returning to air, Brown said, “They’ve always been very hands-off with us, so I think that it’s interesting that the revitalization is coming from us. It’s Iron Chef America that’s making that possible, not the other way around.”

Brown believes the food TV industry has become more diverse in the last couple of decades which has forced programmers to think more in terms of mainstream entertainment.

“And so now in places like Food Network you hear people say ‘we don’t necessarily make food shows but we make ‘food adjacent’ shows — we make shows that surround food but they’re not always about food.”

Brown stressed that even though as a culture we may have very little in common, food is the last thing we all do have in common.

In other words: FriendsEAT.

“We’re all one thing or another, we’re all very different and food is the last connective tissue. And it unites everybody. That’s why it never quits – it never stops being a good subject.”

Can a Bacon Sandwich Cure a Hangover? Scientists Say Yes


Of the thousand and one alleged cures for a hangover, who would have guessed that after a night of hardcore drinking, all that stood in the way of healing an aching, throbbing body drenched in sweat, and a paralytic brain, was a bacon sandwich?

If scientists are correct, eating a bacon sandwich really does cure a hangover by boosting the level of amines which facilitates clear thinking.

Amines occur as a result of the breakdown of amino acids, and many neurotransmitters are amines, including epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and histamine.

“Many drugs are designed to mimic or to interfere with the action of natural amine neurotransmitters, exemplified by the amine drugs.”

Researchers claim food also speeds up the metabolism helping the body get rid of the booze more quickly.

Elin Roberts, of Newcastle University’s Centre for Life said: “Food doesn’t soak up the alcohol but it does increase your metabolism helping you deal with the after-effects of over indulgence. So food will often help you feel better.

(Click “Next” to see Can a Bacon Sandwich Cure a Hangover? Scientists Say Yes)

Hurricane Sandy in NYC


So I’m sitting at my desk, just finished a proposal and I am hearing the wind whistle at my windows. Twenty third floor in a building that’s mostly windows does not feel like the safest place to be when the “apocalypse” hits.

In all seriousness, it’s kinda unnerving. I’ve been seeing the pics from my friends in Jersey. Atlantic City is flooded, and parts of NYC are too. I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation until I went to pick up a little chicken at the local market yesterday. What I encountered…check out the pictures below:

Sofia Wine Bar – A Perfect Date Spot


This place made me wish I was single. Nah, not really. But Sofia has this incredibly intimate vibe that immediately made me think of the excitement of first dates; the first time your eyes lock in a passionate stare, the first awkwardly sensual touch of the hands, and the first kiss.

Sofia is located in Midtown East between 2nd and 3rd on 50th street. Not necessarily an area I would think of for such a fantastic spot. It is separated into two areas. The front has a pretty large bar and smallish tables. I see this area as more of the spot for getting together with the girls.

I joined Susan Rike, the restaurant’s publicist, and a few other food writers in the room out back. Think cozy, yet sophisticated. The restaurant even has replicas of Italian landmarks that manage to make the place feel Italian without going overboard.

I love a restaurant that has real wine glasses. There are few things that aggravate me more than chintzy, thick, small wine glasses. Sofia has gorgeous, large wine glasses for all types of wines. I knew I was in for something good.

The restaurant started us off with a mushroom and stuffed artichoke appetizer. It was simple and delicious. The artichokes had just the right amount of acidity and went perfectly with our Gavi. The Gavi was big on fruit, but mirrored the acidity of the artichokes. This was a perfect pairing.

Our second dish was composed of meatballs; juicy, plump, flavorful meatballs that would make your Nonna proud. The tomato sauce was incredibly balanced and thick enough to make you salivate. The dish was simple, uncomplicated, yet elegant.

Next came out the trio of Bruschetta. My favorite was the honey and ricotta cheese, it was decadent without going overboard. The classic was…well…classic, and the olive tapenade was nice; briny but not overkill. This trio was a win.

Now to the serious stuff. The pizza was outstanding. To give you a basis for my pizza palate, my two favorite places are Totonno’s (only the Coney Island location), RubiRosa, and Basil Brick Oven in Astoria. The pizza at Sofia is nothing like these two, but gorgeous in its style. It was super thin and crunchy, yet the crust gave way for bending. The toppings (olives, red onions, gorgeous cheese) all melded perfectly.

The prosciutto pizza was just as good.

The cannolis were ridiculous. They are imported from Italy (the only thing not made in house). The shell was crispy, and broke apart pleasantly as the teeth dug in. The cream gently gave way. They were sweet, but not too sweet and went quite well with our Moscato.

Highly Recommended

Sofia Wine Bar is located at 242 East 50th Street in Midtown East. (212)888-8660

Things to note:

100 wines by the glass, open only for dinner starting at 4pm, dishes made by the matriarch of the family

Peyton Manning to Own 21 Papa John’s Restaurants


Anyone making or delivering pizzas in Denver may soon be working for Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

Papa John’s recently signed Manning as its newest franchisee, who in partnership with Papa John’s, will own 21 restaurants in the Denver area.

Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, Papa John’s International, Inc. is the world’s third largest pizza company.

Papa John’s has locations in 32 countries on five continents and in September opened its 4,000th restaurant.

Papa John’s also recently released its 2013 franchise development incentive program, which includes zero franchise fee, 0% royalty for 18 months, and $50,000 in restaurant equipment for new restaurants opened through 2013.

Manning’s involvement with Papa John’s dates to 2011, when he was featured in Papa John’s efforts to market its novel Super Bowl XLVI Coin Toss Experience.

Manning and John H. Schnatter, better known as “Papa John”, founder, chairman, and current CEO of Papa John’s International, Inc., kicked off the 2012 NFL regular season by offering consumers the chance to win another free large one-topping pizza.

As part of their current marketing scheme, Pappa John’s national television ads feature Manning convincing Schnatter to give away 2 million large one-topping pizzas to Papa Rewards members throughout the regular season — an amount double the number of pizzas Papa John’s gave away last season.

Current Papa Rewards members and those who enroll at Pappa John’s website have the chance to be randomly selected to receive one of the 120,000 free large one-topping pizzas each week of the NFL regular season.

“I’ve been a fan of Papa John’s pizza for a long time, and now knowing John Schnatter, his team and the business intimately over the past year, I am thrilled to formally join Papa John’s as a franchisee in partnership with the brand,” Manning said.

“It’s a smart investment now and will be long after I’m done playing football. I’m particularly impressed by John’s drive to make everything about Papa John’s better along with his ambition and plan to continue growing the brand around the world. Also, Papa John’s being the Official Pizza of the Denver Broncos makes this even more exciting.”

Papa John’s is in the third year of a multi-year sponsorship with the NFL.

The pizza corporation is also the Official Pizza of the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins.

Eighteen-Year-Old Almost Killed by Liquid Nitrogen Cocktail


Surgeons were forced to remove the stomach of a UK teenager celebrating her eighteenth birthday, after she drank two liquid nitrogen cocktails.

Gaby Scanlon had been out with three friends in Lancaster city center and downed both “Nitro Jagermeister” cocktails in Oscar’s Wine Bar and Bistro before being rushed to a hospital with terrible stomach pains.

“I couldn’t talk, I could barely walk and everything was just a blur of pain. I was so frightened. I knew the drink must have caused it,” Scanlon said.

The Daily Mail’s Helen Weathers points out that if Scanlon’s friends had not insisted on driving her straight to Lancaster Royal Infirmary, she would not be alive today.

It is believed the cocktails Scanlon drank still contained drops of the liquid nitrogen which then caused horrendous burns to her stomach.

“Since it is not safe to ingest liquid nitrogen, care must be taken to ensure that the liquid has all evaporated before serving any food or drink that was prepared with liquid nitrogen.”

Those two drinks completely destroyed her stomach, leaving it perforated, according to Doctors.

The Sun reported Lancashire police stated an investigation was under way and added: “Medical opinion is that this would have proved fatal had the operation not been carried out urgently.

“The premises involved have suspended drinks involving liquid nitrogen.”

Popularized by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal’s “Mousse Poached in Liquid Nitrogen,” liquid nitrogen vaporizes at -196C and has been increasingly used to chill glasses, and create a smoky looking water vapor.

“Liquid nitrogen is formed by cooling down the harmless gas nitrogen to such a low temperature that it becomes liquid. It is intensely cold (-196°C) and if not used properly can cause frostbite or cryogenic burns when it comes into contact with living tissue.

“Liquid nitrogen is used in cryotherapy medical treatment to burn away skin abnormalities, such as warts. But it will have the same effect if consumed, burning internal tissue in the stomach.”

People should not be playing chemistry in public houses, said Dr John Ashton, director of public health for Cumbria.

“This is a very, very cold substance and it is similar to subjecting your esophagus and stomach to frost bite. As this case highlights there are major safety implications and it is time there was better regulation put in place to prevent things like this dreadful incident happening again.”

He said a total ban would only lead to increased demand for the dangerous cocktails but said there should be stringent regulation.

UK Health minister Anna Soubry said there are industry safety and handling guidelines around the use and storage of liquid nitrogen.

“It is the business owner’s responsibility to make sure that their staff have been trained and are aware of potential risks of using liquid nitrogen.”

In other words, the retail use of liquid nitrogen in the UK is totally unregulated.

Soubry even stressed the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) responsible for food safety issues, does not need additional laws to govern the use of liquid nitrogen in drinks.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency operates much the same as US regulatory agencies like the FDA, where retail and wholesale food companies are given carte blanche to police themselves.

London Car Thief Steals Gordon Ramsay’s $134,000 Audi


According to The Sun, Gordon Ramsay’s Audi A8L was on loan to him from Audi when it got snatched in London.

Audi has apparently been loaning Ramsay cars for years, and Ramsay was forced to call the firm to report the vehicle stolen.

A source said the Audi is usually kept at Gordon’s house. But as favor, he let his driver take it home for the evening.

“It was a mistake as when the driver came out in the morning it was gone. It was kindly on loan like all Gordon’s other Audis over the years, so he had to bite his lip and make an embarrassing call to them to explain.”

When you’re as rich and well-known as Gordon Ramsay, you don’t even need to purchase a luxury car; car manufactures like Audi will just give you one on loan to promote their six figure vehicles.

The Audi A8L features:

* 1st row regular express open/close sliding and tilting glass sunroof

* Front air conditioning, dual zone automatic

* 8-spd w/OD transmission

* ABS and driveline traction control

* Driver and passenger cooled front seats

* Entertainment system with dvd

* Voice activated navigation system

* Driver and passenger heated front seats

* Rear air conditioning, with separate controls

* Front and rear fog/driving lights

* 19″ silver aluminum wheels

* Keyfob (all doors) remote keyless entry

* 3.0L V-6 engine

Gordon Ramsay recently topped Forbes “Highest Earning Chefs List”, earning a cool $38 million.

Ramsay owns 23 restaurants worldwide and recently opened a steak house at the Paris casino hotel in Las Vegas. His casual dining restaurant, The Fat Cow, is designated to open in Los Angeles this fall.

The tenth season of Hell’s Kitchen — and a third season of Ramsay’s MasterChef — was renewed in June of this year. And as part of his expanding television empire, Hotel Hell, which premiered on Fox, features Ramsay helping struggling hotel owners.

Guy Fieri’s $200,000 Lamborghini was also stolen

Last year, a thief broke into the British Motor Car Distributors dealership in San Francisco and drove away with Guy Fieri’s $200,000 Lamborghini.

But in this case, Fieri’s $200,000 Lamborghini wasn’t on loan from Lamborghini. An entire year passed before Fieri’s stolen Lamborghini was finally recovered.

Binge on Chocolate, Win The Nobel Prize


According to findings released in the New England Journal of Medicine, the higher a country’s chocolate consumption, the more Nobel laureates it produces per capita.

According to Reuters, the Swiss lead, followed by the Swedes and the Danes, with the U.S. somewhere in the middle.

Franz Messerli, who did the analysis, said the US would have to increase its cocoa intake by a 275 million pounds a year to produce one more laureate.

“The amount it takes, it’s actually quite stunning, you know,” said Messerli, who runs the hypertension program at St Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York.

“The Swiss eat 120 bars – that is 3-ounce bars per year for every man, woman and child. That’s the average.”

Messerli adopted the idea for the study after reading a another study linking flavonoids — antioxidants present in cocoa and wine — to better scores on cognitive tests.

He began with industry data on chocolate intake in 23 countries and a list from Wikipedia ranking countries according to the number of Nobel laureates per capita.

“I started plotting this in a hotel room in Kathmandu, because I had nothing else to do, and I could not believe my eyes,” he told Reuters. All the countries linked up neatly on a graph, with higher chocolate intake tied to more laureates.

Reuters suggests that while the link is real, it may be meaningless, and Messerli concedes the paradigm is over-the-top, but the data are legitimate.

“National chocolate consumption is correlated with a country’s wealth and high-quality research is correlated with a country’s wealth,” said Eric Cornell, an American physicist who shared the Nobel Prize for physics in 2001.

“So therefore chocolate is going to be correlated with high-quality research, but there is no causal connection there.”

“Personally I feel that milk chocolate makes you stupid,” joked Cornell, who attributed his success to the large amount of chocolate he eats.

“Now dark chocolate is the way to go. It’s one thing if you want like a medicine or chemistry Nobel Prize, ok, but if you want a physics Nobel Prize it pretty much has got to be dark chocolate.”

Messerli, who is Swiss, admits to daily chocolate consumption and said that despite the tongue-in-cheek tone, he does believe chocolate has real health effects — although people should stay away from the sweeter kinds.

Regardless of the entertaining link between chocolate consumption and Nobel laureates, a very real realtionship exists when it comes to dark chocolate and its impact on the brain, and the heart; chocolate may even help cut excess weight.

NYC Halloween 2012


Just a little follow-up on my first piece on Halloween events in NYC this year. If you haven’t figured out where to go, you may want to check out one of these food themed Halloween – Dia de los Muertos parties.

De Santos: 139 West 10th Street (West Village) – De Santos, a 100 year old restaurant that was once a speakeasy will offer up a special 3-course $40 prix fixe Halloween menu.  The night will start off with an oyster shooter and Herradura tequila. Sounds like a perfect way to enjoy the holiday.

Hecho en Dumbo: 354 Bowery (NoHo-The Bowery)- Hecho en Dumbo will host their Dia De Los Muertos Party on November 3rd featuring Guadalajara’s own Los Master Plus and the venerable Joro Boroset. Their costume party is NOT to be missed at Salón Hecho. Call them for details.

Palo Santo: 652 Union Street (Park Slope) – On Wednesday October 31, Palo Santo’s menu will include traditional Dia de los Muertos dishes like Mole Poblano, Pozole, Tamales and Pan de Muerto. All costumed adults will get a sangria or beer on the house!

Tequileria Maya: 119 1st Avenue (Upper East Side) – Tequileria Maya does not mourn its dead. It celebrates them and wants you to come along for the ride. They will have an all night happy hour on November 1st in the Tequileria featuring $6 margaritas, $4 Mexican beers, and $4 Botanas.

Gordon Ramsay Tops Forbes Highest Earning Chefs List


In the U.S., Gordon Ramsay is best known as the contentious host of Hell’s Kitchen and Master Chef.

Ramsay once machine gunned the f-word 115 times in the first 40 minutes of an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, and called Current Affair’s Australian host Tracy Grimshaw a lesbian pig.

But Ramsay is a huge money maker, $38 million, topping Forbes list of The Highest Earning Chefs.

Ramsay is slowly expanding his restaurant empire into the U.S. with locations at the London hotels in New York City and Los Angeles. He’s also expanding his TV empire which is far more lucrative.

Both the tenth season of Hell’s Kitchen and a third season of Ramsay’s MasterChef was renewed in June of this year.

The Hell’s Kitchen host, who owns 23 restaurants around the globe, just opened a steak house at the Paris casino hotel in Las Vegas. His restaurant, The Fat Cow, is slated to open in Los Angeles this fall.

As part of his expanding television empire, Hotel Hell, which premiered on Fox, features Ramsay helping struggling hotel owners.

To compile their list, Forbes talked to food consultants, restaurant owners and industry analysts to estimate how much each chef earned between June 2011 and June 2012.

Forbes reviewed each chef’s take of the revenue from his or her restaurants and TV, merchandise royalties and cookbook payments.

Rachael Ray ranked second on their list with an estimated $25 million. Ray got her start in 2002 with Food Network shows like $40 A Day and 30 Minute Meals.

Ray is the only chef on the Forbes list who doesn’t have her own restaurant. However, she has her own talk show, a magazine and 20 cookbooks to her name.

Bobby Flay is another prominent chef on their list who ranks ninth with an estimated $9 million in earnings; Flay is one of the biggest stars on Food Network.

Oh his show Throwdown, Flay challenges cooks to a cook-off of their signature dish.

The New York chef is in talks with CBS for a daytime talk show that would be co-hosted by fellow Food Network personality Giada De Laurentiis.

Highest Earning Chefs List

1) Gordon Ramsay
$38 million

2) Rachel Ray
$25 million

3) Wolfgang Puck
$20 million

4) Paula Deen
$17 million

5) Mario Batali
$13 million

6) Alain Ducasse
$12 million

7) Todd English
$11 million

8 ) Nobu Matsuhisa
$10 million

9) Bobby Flay
$9 million

10) Guy Fieri
$8 million

Tisha Unarmed and Tosh.0


Every once in a while, we come across someone who is truly inspiring. I never thought I would come across someone like this on Tosh.O.

Tosh recently featured Tisha Unarmed. For those of you who are not familiar with Tisha, she is literally “unarmed”. I read on her Facebook page that Tisha was born without arms due to her femur developing curved. She wears a special prosthetic on her right leg to keep even since her right leg is shorter than the other. I think she does an incredible job at changing the perceptions of a “handicap”.

If you’ve ever caught yourself complaining about how hard things are to do, Tisha may shame you just a little. She has an amazing attitude, a killer sense of humor, and does everything you and I can do. Check her out below making a PB&J.

Thanks for being an inspiration and for putting things in perspective Tisha.