Meet MasterChef Junior Finalist Alexander Weiss!

Alexander Weiss, MasterChef Junior Finalist  PHOTO CREDIT:  Greg Gayne/FOX
Alexander Weiss, MasterChef Junior Finalist
PHOTO CREDIT: Greg Gayne/FOX

By Debra Liu

Tonight, the entire nation will see Alexander Weiss, one of the remaining two finalists on MasterChef Junior, compete for the $100,000 prize on the show’s finale, which will air at 8PM on FOX.

Alexander, 13,  grew up in New York City and his adventures into cooking started at the early age of 5 when he began baking with his mom. As he got older, he learned how to cook savory dishes with his dad. “After that, I took what my parents taught me how to cook and made my food more elevated and complex. I had also watched the Food Network and cooking shows on TV. I have always been so fascinated by cooking and trying new things,” Alexander says. 

Alexander shares with us here at FoodtoEat what inspires him, what his favorites foods and recipes are, and what he hopes for the future:

FoodtoEat: What inspires you to cook?

Alexander Weiss: I’m inspired by the chefs I see cook on tv; such as Gordon Ramsay, Jacques Pepin, Daniel Boulud and by Anthony Bourdain, he doesn’t cook on tv, but his passion for food is inspiring, and of course my parents as well as knowing that I can make fresh tasty food instead of eating what’s in the frozen section of the market.

If you could choose any chef to cook with, who would it be and what would you cook?

Gordon Ramsay is still my number #1 choice. I’ve been trying to perfect his sticky toffee pudding recipe, but can’t quite nail it. I would love to learn the tricks from “the man” himself.  I  would also love to learn to make classic French dishes such as escargot and fois gras from Daniel Boloud.

What is your favorite recipe?

The next one I’m going to make. I have lots of favorites, but exploring new dishes is really the most fun.

Do you have a favorite type of cuisine to eat? Favorite type of cuisine to cook?

To eat- French & Italian  To cook- Italian

What is the most unique and fun dish you’ve ever created?

Vanilla bean roasted chicken and treacle ice cream in an almond tulle cup.

What is the one food you cannot live without, something that you could eat every day and never get sick of?

Pasta

Do you have a favorite restaurant in NYC? Why?

Jones Wood Foundry. It’s all amazing to me; especially, fish and chips, sticky toffee pudding, fresh crumpets with lemon curd and compound butter, beef and kidney pie, bubble and squeak.

What has been the most memorable part of being on MasterChef Junior?

Meeting all my great new friends and all the knowledge I’m taking with me from the MasterChef Junior kitchen.

What have you learned while being on the show? Any cool, awesome kitchen tricks? Were you nervous in the beginning?

I have learned how to work like a professional chef and how to be more organized, making aioli in a food processor, baking cakes in a bain marie (water bath) and a much better way to hold my knife. I was very nervous because all the other kids really looked like they knew their stuff.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

Being the chef/owner of my own NYC restaurant.

Can you cook for our office one day?! Only half joking. It would be amazing to try your food one day!

For sure!!!

See Alexander cook to impress tonight on the MasterChef Junior Finale on FOX. We know we’ll be glued to the TV!

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

The World’s Most Daring (And Scary!) Dishes

Boo! In honor of Halloween, we’ve put together a list of seven of the world’s most daring, scary, and bizarre foods. Enjoy!

Fried Brain Sandwich

Fried Brain Sandwich
Fried Brain Sandwich

From: US

What is it? This is exactly what you think it is: heavily fried, sliced cow brain on bread. The Fried Brain Sandwich was popular in St. Louis, MO in the late 1880s and is still served today, primarily in the Ohio River Valley. Incidence of mad cow disease has significantly reduced the appeal of this dish, and some restaurants have begun to serve pig brains instead.

Where to get it in NYC? Barbone in the East Village offered lamb brains as an entrée a few years ago.

Rocky Mountain Oysters

Rocky Mountain Oysters
Rocky Mountain Oysters

From: US

What is it? Yeah, so these are not actually oysters, or at least the not the oysters we know and love. Also known as “prairie oysters” by the Canadians, Rocky Mountain Oysters are bull calf testicles. In Oklahoma and Texas they are known as “calf fries” if they are from really young animals. They are typically deep-fried (sometimes pounded flat) after being coated in flour, pepper and salt and are served as appetizers with a cocktail dipping sauce.

Where to get it in NYC? Treehaus in Midtown East has previously offered fried Rocky Mountain Oysters (and Lamb testicles!) in their lunch buffet.

Hakarl

Hakarl
Hakarl

From: Iceland

What is it? Probably one of the most difficult foods to eat, Hakarl has even bested the likes of Andrew Zimmern who described the smell as “horrific” and Chef Anthony Bourdain who said it is “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing” he’s ever had. Harkal is fermented, putrefied Greenland shark from Iceland and is ubiquitous there all year round.

Where to get it in NYC? From our research, we could not locate a place in NYC that sells or prepares Hakarl so we suggest trying it (if you dare to) if you make a trip to Iceland!

Century Egg

Century Egg
Century Egg

From: China

What is it? Despite its name, Century Egg (pidan in Chinese) is NOT egg that has been preserved for 100 years. They are made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs for several weeks to several months. The dark green/gray yolk is creamy and has a strong sulfur and ammonia odor, while the egg “black” has practically no flavor. It is eaten as a side dish, or added to rice porridge.

Where to get it in NYC? If you’re looking to try some, you can buy them at any Asian supermarket or try some at Congee Village in the Lower East Side.

Pacha / Goat Head

Pacha Goat Head
Pacha / Goat Head

From: Iraq

What is it? If you are confused by the picture above, let me clarify.  It is a: BOILED. GOAT. HEAD. Now you might be mortified right now, but in the Middle East, BOILED.GOAT.HEAD = DELICACY.   Just imagine sitting down and  enjoying the BOILED.GOAT.HEAD while it is served with stuffed sheep stomach and the bread was soaked in the broth that had built up during the boiling of the sheep head.

Where to get it in NYC? Sorry folks, we couldn’t find a NYC  restaurant that serves up BOILED. GOAT. HEAD.

Balut

balut
Balut (fertilized egg)

From: Phillipines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand

What is it? A fertilized egg. They eat it in many parts of Southeast Asia as a lightly seasoned street food.  In Cambodia, they are simply seasoned with just salt and lime!  Due to its peculiarity, it’s being introduced to the West and East and is becoming haute cuisine at some of the more prestigious fine dining establishments.

Where to get it in NYC? Jeepeney’s Filipino gastropub in the East Village.  Check out hardcore Kamayan Wednesdays and Thursdays nights where no utensils are allowed – only hands people!

The “Why Not” Insect Cocktail

white and church cricket cocktail
Why Not Cocktail

From: US

What is it? Your favorite cocktails with fried maggot, scorpion, worms or toasted bees!  Our personal favorite would have to be the why not – tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, avocado, red pepper, sugar and Mexican Worms. It’s simply the perfect way to end a perfect date night!

Where to get it in NYC? White and Church serves many other wonderful cocktails, but if you’re up for a challenge and are thirsty, all these delicate monstrosities are just around $14 a drink.  Drink up!

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com

Paula Deen Comes Clean

Confirming the rumors that have been persistent for several days, Paula Deen does in fact have Type 2 Diabetes, which she has known about for over three years. Deen has gained celebrity-status in recent years for her excessive cooking style, and most recently for being named Maxim Magazine’s ‘Hottest Female TV Chef”.

Deen has received both praise and criticism for her unhealthy cooking habits, but after the revelation about her diabetes, her reception has turned largely critical. Paula Deen announced her diagnosis Tuesday morning on the TODAY show, also mentioning the endorsement deal she signed with pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. In waiting so long to reveal her illness, while still cooking with excess fat and butter, Paula’s critics say she waited until an opportune time to reveal her diagnosis without any regret or sense of responsibility. Chef Anthony Bourdain summarized the sentiments best, tweeting “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.”

Paula stated that the reason she waited so long to reveal her diagnosis was because she was not properly armed with the knowledge necessary to inform her fans about the disease. Now she claims she has the necessary information to make a positive impression, and with her new endorsement deal from Novo Nordisk, no doubt she will be touting the diabetes medication she takes and her steps to a healthier lifestyle.

This reasoning makes sense to an extent, however Deen has known about her diabetes for over three years, has continued to cook with massive quantities of fat and sugar, and has not shown any regret for her cooking style, saying “I’m your cook, not your doctor”. She seems to have shirked any responsibility in the unhealthy lifestyle she has promoted to her fans through her cooking and endorsement of products like Smithfield ham and Philadelphia cream cheese by claiming that she has always promoted moderation.

The reason so many critics find Paula’s announcement ill-timed and irresponsible is because of her ability as a chef to make positive changes in her lifestyle, and act as a dietary role model to her audience. By continually shrugging off notions of her food being unhealthy, Paula has helped to shape the diets of countless Americans, in a country already suffering from an obesity epidemic. While Paula’s cooking is meant for entertainment purposes, as a chef she has access to fresh ingredients with the full ability to pick and choose what she cooks with to promote a healthier lifestyle.

No doubt diabetes is a difficult disease to live with, and Paula Deen will hopefully begin to preach moderation more to her fans and raise awareness about the causes and effects of diabetes. Deen has already pledged to donate some money from her drug endorsement deal to the American Diabetes Organization, and will be making many more public appearances to talk about the disease. Though she may not have to be a role model for Americans, it’s still our belief that Paula should have come clean about her diagnosis back in 2008; the excuse that she needed three years to learn how to live with diabetes just doesn’t hold water.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here: www.foodtoeat.com