News Flash: Free Copy of Cook’s Illustrated Entertaining

AwK alert!

Cook's Illustrated - Entertaining

You know how much we love Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen. Cook’s Illustrated is offering a free copy of their spring “Entertaining” issue, which is now available on magazine racks. I’ve already requested my copy, and I have a feeling that this will come up soon for a Magazine of the Month segment, so sign up for your free copy now.

To receive one, go to the Cook’s Illustrated website – the link to sign up is in the left hand margin.

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What We’re Watching: The Chopping Block

Tonight, NBC premieres The Chopping Block, a show that many are hailing as the Hell’s Kitchen Ripoff.

the-chopping-block-logo

Chef Marco Pierre White is definitely Ramsay-esque, but not. He’s the original Gordon Ramsay, the guy who made Ramsay himself cry. White also took over hosting the UK version of Hell’s Kitchen, so I can see why people would get the idea that this is where the show hails from.

But unless I miss my guess, it’s not.

I’ve posted before about a show I’ve been watching on BBC America, called Last Restaurant Standing. Acclaimed French chef Raymond Blanc gives a few couples keys to their own restaurants and puts them through challenges as they attempt, for the first time ever, to run their own restaurant. Each week, Raymond Blanc closes one restaurant and, in the end, the last restaurant standing will go into a partnership with Blanc to open their own establishment.

And here’s the premise of The Chopping Block, courtesy of NBC:

Marco Pierre White is the star of the upcoming cooking competition series on NBC titled “The Chopping Block,” featuring two teams of four couples running neighboring restaurants in Manhattan, with one couple being removed each week based on White’s decision. The final remaining couple will be given a large cash prize to be used to purchase a restaurant of their own.

So it’s almost the premise of Last Restaurant Standing, but with a guy who is the equivalent to Gordon Ramsay on crack. In the end they won’t go into a partnership with White (probably because the couples would slit their own wrists after the first year) but they’ll get a cash prize that goes toward… um, buying a restaurant? From the way the above reads I’m guessing they’ll purchase the one they were running while competing on the show? I don’t know, I’m guessing because I can’t figure out why a chef wouldn’t want to open their own, brand new baby. I’m just speculating here; there’s always some sort of catch with reality shows.

Video profiles of the contestants can be found here:

Chad & Mikey
Michael & Panya
Anapol & Lisa
Zan & Than
Angie & Samantha
Vanessa & Kelsey
Dean & Shari
Khoa & Denise

For more on Chef White, Eat Me Daily has a great article you can check out called “Who the Hell is Marco Pierre White?” and here’s a clip of his interview this morning from The Today Show.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22425001/vp/29633665#29633665.msnbcLinks {font-size:11px; font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; color: #999; margin-top: 5px; background: transparent; text-align: center; width: 425px;} .msnbcLinks a {text-decoration:none !important; border-bottom: 1px dotted #999 !important; font-weight:normal !important; height: 13px;} .msnbcLinks a:link, .msnbcLinks a:visited {color: #5799db !important;} .msnbcLinks a:hover, .msnbcLinks a:active {color:#CC0000 !important;}

AwK is on Twitter

We’re on Twitter! Apparently this is cool; all of the kids are doing it.

AwK Twitter

Not only can you get updates on the latest AwK articles, but we’re going to use it to post asides, thoughts and news articles that don’t exactly fit as entire posts on AwK. Share it with your friends and spread the word: AwK is awesome, and CC has a man crush on Fabio from Top Chef. True story. You can also add the website to your reader.

Pseudo News: Iron Chef Japan Sea Monster Week

Orli Ninjamaster is still trying to butter us up so that we’ll post all news of Iron Chef Japan. And I hate to say it, but it’s working.

If you recall from our first contact with Orli, we first suspected that he was a lowly paid intern, forced to surf the vast tubes of the internet in order to market Iron Chef Japan episodes. Later, he assured me this isn’t the case at all. He’s emailed a couple of times since then (as well as one of his coworkers – look out, he’s sending a vast marketing ninja army!), but I wasn’t able to post their stuff in time (sorry, guys). There’s something about the 360i Ninjamaster that I just like, so as long as he’s continuing to butter me up, I’m going to continue to post his pseudo-news alerts.

This coming week on the Fine Living Network, it’s Sea Monster Week on Iron Chef Japan!

Here’s why you should be excited about this: Aside from the Japanese Iron Chefs being certified culinary badasses, what makes the show even more interesting to the western world is their use of ingredients we would find tremendously bizarre. Forget yogurt, chocolate, and rabbit. Let’s hear it for OCTOPUS!

Orli gives us the lowdown:

Sea Monster Week starts off with Battle Octopus on Monday 8/18, then brings you Battle King Crab, Battle Giant Eel, and Battle Squid, before the formidable Battle Ashura Oyster on Friday 8/22 — every night on Fine Living at 8pm.

http://www.pickle.com/flshentrw/cp20/PP/1022/FINE

Now that I’ve been watching Iron Chef America for so long, going back and watching Iron Chef Japan is so bizarre. I had forgotten how different ICA is from the predecessor. First of all, I had forgotten that the commentator sits up with the judges, who talk all during the battle. That never bothered me until ICA tailored the commenting down to just Alton Brown and Kevin Brauch. ICA judges are known chefs, restaurateurs and foodies, with the occasional pseudo-celebrity thrown in for fun. What I had forgotten is that Iron Chef Japan had this panel of people who didn’t seem to have anything to do with food – they were all models, actors, palm readers, etc. There’s one particular actress on Iron Chef Japan that they keep inviting back, and I don’t know why they let her open her mouth. Some of the tasty tidbits she will say during a battle will be along the lines of, “Oh, what are they doing… I think they’re going to cook it!” Also, she pretty much repeats whatever the previous person said. Verbatim.

What I do love about the original show is that the battles were so intense, the ingredients were so off the wall, and it was just so very Japanese. I mean, check out that photo above. They could be a cabaret… or possibly the Village People. Also, it’s Masaharu Morimoto as a budding chef.

Oh and, speaking of Morimoto, he appeared recently on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” trip to Japan. I’d recommend that one for your DVR as well. So there you go, the latest on Iron Chef Japan.

Thanks for the news, Orli. If you really want to keep buttering us up, send some readers our way who will see your shameless plugs.

Allez! Cuisine!

The Next Food Network Star: Ending Bungle

nfns-banner.jpg

I haven’t said anything about the latest two episodes of The Next Food Network Star, and I apologize for that. This morning I got online, fully intending to say something before this weekend’s finale, when I saw something quite surprising on the Food Network Addict’s (FNA) website:

The Food Network accidentally posted the finalists’ exit interviews and the winner’s video on their website.

It has since been pulled but… Whoops. What a shame that the struggling network continues to bungle things up. Last week’s Food Network Star episode garnered more ratings than Bravo’s darling “Project Runway” – and they botch the momentum with this. What a shame.

Here is the statement the Food Network released to FNA:

“FoodNetwork.com experienced technical difficulties last night. As our viewers have seen on The Next Food Network Star this season, many twists and turns have taken place during the show. We encourage all to tune in on Sunday at 10pm to see who will be the Next Food Network Star.”

They’re trying to salvage the wreckage, but the damage has been done.

For those of you who watch the show and don’t want the ending spoiled, have no fear – FNA has deleted all of the comments that would give the ending away, so you can go check out the info without fear.

Food News: Robert Irvine Returns

By now you know about the “scandal” regarding former Food Network Star, Robert Irvine. If you don’t, it was discovered that Robert Irvine had lied about his somewhat impressive resume and also that he had been flirting with Paula Deen on camera, causing nausea in viewers everywhere. Unfortunately, it was only the resume embellishment that brought media attention, and caused his dismissal by the Food Network. His popular show, Dinner: Impossible, was turned over to the newest Iron Chef America, Michael Symon, and was to be extended to a full hour. Since then, Robert Irvine pretty much disappeared from the mainstream media and has not been heard from since.

He’s back. Last week he put up a brand new blog and is “setting the record straight” about his resume.

robert_irvine.jpg

Strategic move on his part, I’d say. Dinner: Impossible is starting up its new season with host Michael Symon and a lot of the viewer feedback is not as glowing as the Food Network would want. Fans of the show say Symon is boring, dry, and his annoying cackle-laugh grates on everyone’s nerves. Another strange thing to note is that the show did not extend to an hour length program as initially promised, but is airing at the original 30 minutes.

Maybe the producers realized Symon would be too boring for an hour long program.

I don’t know. What I do find interesting is the timing of the show being aired, the reception of the new host being not so favorable, and Robert Irvine returning to the media. Right now Irvine seems to be slowly and smartly rebuilding his tarnished image. Yesterday’s blog entry mentioned some interesting themes that seemed all too calculated:

1. Previous television experience before he was ever on the Food Network
2. He had been a successful executive chef before becoming a celebrity
3. He had amazing sous chefs working under him who are now executive chefs
4. Name-dropping Emeril Lagasse

The rest of the entry talks about braising – what it is, what it does to the food, how delicious it is, that it is the “food of love”. In this he is trying to remind us that he really does know about food, and he’s trying to win us back again. The previous entry is trying to assure the public that there was still a lot of truth to his resume, and he’s trying hard to prove himself.

Do I care? I don’t know. The guy can cook and is a very entertaining person to watch on television. He’s proven himself capable of those things. Because of this, Irvine is surely going to win his way back into the public’s favor. Maybe I’m over-thinking this, but I can’t help but wonder if he’s trying to tie himself to Emeril Lagasse because he wants to try and become a part of the Martha Stewart empire? That would be a smart move, but who knows? It’s an interesting theory at best. For now, we’ll watch and wait and see what happens.

Top Chef Episode 11: Bourdain Speaks

On his blog, one of AwK’s favorite celebrity chefs, Anthony Bourdain, speaks out about what happened on Top Chef Episode 11. Personally, I’ve taken all Top Chef blogging sites out of my Reader (I find them really annoying and not very entertaining overall) so I don’t know what’s being said on the blogs and what isn’t, but what he had to say about them didn’t surprise me too much.

His candor about judging the episode, Restaurant Wars, is refreshing and made me happy that the AwK team was able to gather why decisions were made that night at the Judges’ Table:

Dale’s Butterscotch Scallops were supremely bad. Jaw droppingly bad. So bad that there was a long, awkward moment at the table when all the judges just sat there, silent, stunned with disbelief that anyone–especially Dale–could serve something so…disgusting. It’s the only time on Top Chef that I literally could not take another bite.

Dale was in deep, deep trouble from the judges’ first mouthful of this luminously wretched gunk.

Surprisingly, Bourdain actually thinks Dale is a good solid chef, one who he would actually hire to work in his restaurant. His maturity and skills as an Executive Chef are obviously another matter.

Another (pleasant) surprise is where he states clearly that the Bravo producers do not sway the ruling at Judges’ Table — apparently it would not be wise to tell Chef Colicchio to send someone home for reasons other than their dish. That’s enough to win even more respect for the show.

And in a couple of small, delicious bits, he refers to Spike’s “strategy” during the competition.

Spike, on the other hand, can look forward to a long career.

In politics. He’s perfect for it.

Suck it, Spike.

If you’re a fan of the show, head on over to Tony Bourdain’s blog on the Travel Channel website and take a read.

Pseudo News: Iron Chef Japan Returns to TV

Yesterday, we received an email through our website messaging system. I wasn’t going to post it, but the sender referred to us as “ninjas” in the opening of the email. This leads me to believe he is some poor intern who is paid minimum wage and forced to sift through the vast tubes of the internet (serious business) to find websites and blogs that pertain to whatever he’s been told to market. This dude took the time to read our FAQ and sent us an email with the appropriate heading as “Ninjas” so, Orli, this post is for you: Iron Chef Japan returns to TV!

Unfortunately Iron Chef Japan is only returning to television as RERUNS, so this is being flagged as “Pseudo News”.

To: adminATamateurswithknives.com
Date: April 22, 2008 8:39:13 PM EDT
Subject: [Amateurs with Knives] Contact from Orli Ninjamaster (surname changed – a ninja’s identity must not be revealed)
Reply-To: (deleted)

You are being contacted via Amateurs with Knives by Orli Ninjamaster. Orli Ninjamaster has provided the following information so you may contact them:

Email: (deleted)
Phone:
Website: http://
Reason: Other (explain below)

Message:
Hi ninjas,

You guys seem like the types to get really excited about the following information:
Iron Chef Japan is returning to TV!

Was I right? If so, read on. If not, delete.

So…. Iron Chef Japan is finally coming back! It’ll air every weeknight at 11pm on Fine Living Network, starting May 5th. For more info, check out the Iron Chef Japan website here: Fine Living Network

And lots of fun videos, all of them embeddable, here: Fine Living Network’s Page on You Tube

Feel free to share with all your readers, and let me know if you have any questions or feedback.

Cheers,
Orli Ninjamaster
360i on behalf of Fine Living Network

I love Iron Chef Japan. It’s ten times better than the American version — whether it’s because it’s so much more dramatic, or because it’s the original, or because Chairman Kaga is so badass, who can say.

chairman-kaga.jpg

Maybe it’s all of the above. If anything, I like watching the American version because the producers have the American Chairman doing all sorts of goofy things – and sometimes they add sound effects. I swear, that dude gets more comical with every episode.

At any rate, if you’re a fan, tune in to Fine Living Network starting May 5 or, at the very least, set your DVR to record.

Allez! Cuisine!

Food News: Dinner Impossible

If you keep up on food news and celebrity chefs, you’ve heard by now that Robert Irvine, the host of Food Network’s “Dinner: Impossible” was fired for lying about his resume. Whether his termination was justifiable was a heated debate among fans of the show and fans of the network, while AwK authors pretty much felt that anyone who got a little too flirty on television with Paula Deen should just be taken out back and flogged.

Now that the media frenzy has died down, a new host has been announced to take over Dinner: Impossible…

mike_symon03.jpg

The newest Iron Chef, Michael Symon. His comments can be found on his blog, Symon Says. The show is being expanded to an hour, and will involve some of the Iron Chef’s “friends” making appearances as sous chefs. The new series will air in July.

Good luck to Chef Symon!