Hear Marcus Samuelsson and other Leading NYC Chefs Discuss Diversity in the Culinary World

By Debra Liu Where are all the women in the upper echelons of culinary prestige? And furthermore, where is the racial diversity? Despite the visibility of female celebrity cooks like Rachel Ray on TV, what most of us don’t realize is that, on the other side of the kitchen, in the cut-throat world of Michelin stars, a majority of the glory is given to male white chefs. On March 3, 2014, Mother Jones, a nonprofit investigative news outlet, will be hosting a panel discussion, “The Melting Pot: Leading chefs dish on diversifying dinner”, at Ginny’s Supper Club in Harlem (get tickets here) to explore diversity in the culinary world. Leading New York chefs Marcus Samuelsson and Charlene Johnson-Hadley of Red Rooster, Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune, and Floyd Cardoz of North End Grill, who are all paving the way for change, will share their personal experiences.

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I recently had the opportunity to chat with Tom Philpott, Mother Jones’ Food and Ag Correspondent, whose visit to Stone Farms for a meeting of minds between chefs and scientists was what sparked the creation of this panel discussion. In his research, Tom found that of the chefs in “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants”, a highly coveted honor – Nobel Prize of fine-dining if you will – most were men; there were only 2-3 female chefs amongst the 50 and even then, these women had a male co-chef. And when it came to racial diversity, stats were similarly disappointing. “There are woman all across the country doing great restaurants, but why are they left out of high-prestige conversations, and why do they seldom win the highest accolades? We started thinking about it and thought it would be great to convene some people to talk about this… but let’s broaden it, it’s not just about gender – chefs of color also tend to get left out,” Tom told me. What’s great about the panel is that not only is there diversity of gender and race, but there’s also a diversity of experience. “We have people at various stages of this business,” says Tom. According to him, it’s really important to the story to “not just to have established [chefs], people who are stars, but also the younger folks.” Tom will be the moderator of the discussion and when asked what to expect, he hopes to “get people’s stories, draw people out on their stories and talk this issue out. I’m hoping for a real lively back and forth, with [chefs] sharing their experiences.” The event will be open bar and appetizers including charcuterie and cheese will be catered by Red Rooster. You do not want to miss this rare opportunity to meet and hear talented chefs share their experiences! Check out the event page here to find out more and get tickets before they’re sold out.

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

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 Great Food Truck Race Returns

Food Network’s reality show “The Great Food Truck Race” is returning for its third season on Sunday, August 19. Past seasons of the show have featured food trucks that are established and experienced in the business already, but this season is taking a very different approach. Every competitor this year has never worked or cooked on a food truck. This lack of experience and knowledge on how the food truck business is run will surely test each team’s patience and motivation. 

Because all of the contestants are just starting out in the business, there is much more at stake. Each one is trying to edge out the competition to win the grand prize of $50,000 and a food truck of their own. This will give the winning team the opportunity to establish and operate their very own food truck. 

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The eight teams competing this season are from all over the country and are cooking up distinct types and styles of food. The Barbie Babes serve burgers, Pop-a-Waffle serve both savory and sweet waffles, Momma’s Grizzly Grub serves unique pasta dishes, Coast of Atlanta serves elaborate seafood dishes, Nonna’s Kitchenette serves traditional Italian dishes inspired by their grandmother, Under the Crust serves sweet and savory pies paired with dipping sauces, Pizza Mike’s serves Italian favorites, and Seoul Sausage serves sausages dressed with Korean flavors and spices. 

Season 3 of The Great Food Truck Race is sure to be a food-filled frenzy. Be sure to watch it on Sundays at 10pm EST starting August 19. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have the winning team serving on the streets of your neighborhood!

The Great Food Truck Race Finale

In the final lap of the Great Food Truck Race, the last two trucks remaining, California’s Lime Truck and Ohio’s Hodge Podge Truck head to Miami for the ultimate showdown and a chance at $100,000. The episode kicked off with Tyler Florence giving each team $500 to buy ingredients, with the ultimate goal of making $15,000. The first team to reach this mark would then race to South Point Park to claim a briefcase with their cash, and win the Great Food Truck Race.

Hodge Podge immediately began to use their Miami connections to find a food truck meet up spot, while Lime Truck was expecting a Truck Stop challenge first to give them time to prepare their plan of attack in Miami, but was instead thrown for a loop when the elimination challenge immediately kicked off. Just as the trucks begin to get settled, Tyler calls them for a Speed Bump. The trucks are towed and the teams can only get them back with $200, which they must earn somehow without the truck. The teams kept their ingredients however, and Hodge Podge was able to sell some high end plates while Lime Truck attempted to offer lessons in cooking mussels, taking much longer to earn their truck back.

The next morning the Truck Stop challenge was presented, with both teams having to catch a fish in thirty minutes and then cook a dish with it in thirty minutes. Though challenging, both teams managed to catch their fish, and though Hodge Podge’s was cooked perfectly, Chef Chris used too many ingredients, while Lime Truck’s was just right. Lime Truck won $1500, helping them out of the hole they found themselves in after the first day of competition. At the end of the day the teams were notified of a second Speed Bump, both teams would have to reopen as a dessert truck for two hours in the morning. Both teams were extremely close to the $15000 mark by now, and Lime truck headed downtown to sell their desserts, while Hodge Podge stayed in the parking lot of the wholesale store they bought their ingredients from. Both teams sold well in these spots, though editing made it to difficult to tell how close the trucks actually were to each other in sales. In the end both trucks raced to see Tyler for their briefcase, but Lime truck arrived first winning the $100,000 prize. Though Hodge Podge only lost by a few minutes, they admitted to feeling like winners anyway.

Congratulations to Lime Truck for dominating this season of the Great Food Truck Race, and to all the other trucks as well for providing excitement and competition throughout the season.

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 Great Food Truck Race Week 4: The Truck’s Get Schooled in Kansas College Town

This week the five remaining teams drove out to the college town of Manhattan, Kansas, where they faced a series of challenges ultimately resulting in one team being eliminated. After dominating performances last week and weeks before that, Lime Truck was bested in the first Truck Stop challenge by Seabirds Truck. The teams were all granted a $5 debit card to come up with an original recipe and impress a Kansas City food critic. The Seabirds created a raw food cupcake with barbecue sauce, and they were awarded exclusive access to a huge restaurant/bar area, while the rest of the trucks duked it out for space on campus.

The teams were each given $400 to plan their menus for the elimination phase of the challenge. Seabirds had a huge crowd waiting for them after shopping, Roxy’s pulled away from the rest and the other three teams set up at City Park, where college students had already anticipated their arrival. Tyler Florence introduced the speed bump early this time, immediately requiring the teams to price everything on their menu under $1. Some trucks with planned expensive menus had more trouble with this than others, but many made do. Korilla introduced $1 tacos, and Roxy’s made grilled cheese sliders. The Lime Truck based its menu off $8-$10 dollar items, and the Seabirds made $1 half sandwiches but worried that they were charging too little for their premium products, and began falling behind on their orders again. Several teams headed back to reconfigure their menus, while others targeted bar crowds and prepared for the next day.

The next day the teams faced similar large crowds, but the difficulty was in filling orders quickly and dealing with low the menu prices. Hodge Podge Truck began pulling customers off Korilla’s long lines to take orders. I thought a fight was about to break out when the Korilla guys confronted them about having no food truck etiquette in front of many customers, but Hodge Podge just kept taking the customers they could get.

In the end, Korilla BBQ came out on top again, with $5,245, and Roxy’s in a close second with $5,132. The Lime Truck and Seabirds were in the bottom 2, and in the end Seabirds got eliminated selling less than Hodge Podge and Lime truck. Next week the teams head to Memphis, Tennessee to create all vegetarian menus, as the Seabirds lament that they won’t be there for what could have been a triumphant week for them.

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 Great Food Truck Race Week 3: Trucks Get Swept Away by the Windy City

Last night on The Great Food Truck Race the six remaining teams raced their way to Denver, Colorado, where they were granted even less money and more crippling speed bumps. Once again the teams had to utilize their own knowledge of the area and their local contacts to stay ahead of the competition, while making risky alliances with others.

The first truck stop challenge required the food trucks to create an original recipe based on wild mushrooms that they gathered themselves, and an assortment of vegetables provided by host Tyler Florence. Their dish would then be judged by local Denver chef, Frank Bonnano, and the winner would get some helpful publicity on Good Morning America, as well as $200 for the elimination phase of the show. After each team prepared their dishes, Bonnano gave them all praise but awarded Lime Truck the victory, leaving the vegan Seabirds Truck devastated that they lost a veggie-based challenge. All the trucks were soon devastated however; as they learned that they would receive no seed money and would have to find their own ingredients (except Lime truck).

Once again the food trucks proved their resourcefulness by gathering ingredients on their own. The Lime Truck and Hodge Podge formed an early alliance, though why Hodge Podge would ever trust these guys after what they did last week is beyond me. The trucks all loaned or struck deals with local establishments, to get ingredients. Café con Leche, Hodge Podge and Lime Truck all charged very high prices for sandwiches, and Seabirds suffered from slow service. Korilla BBQ eased along just fine in a great location, and Roxy’s Grilled Cheese noticed a significant recovery from last week’s near elimination.

The next day the trucks resumed their sales, but faced one of the show’s ‘speed bumps’ in which each truck would have to operate with only one person doing ll the work. The trucks all handled this differently, Korilla played rock, paper, scissors to decide who would operate the truck, Roxy’s called it “a nightmare”, Hodge Podge was confident, Lime took group orders over single orders, and Seabirds got even slower. As sales slowed and trucks relocated, Korilla and Roxy’s crashed Café con Leche’s location, and Seabirds lamented that this might be their last week.

When all was said and done however, Seabirds scraped a fifth place finish, while Lime and Korilla dominated the competition, each making near $7,000. Café con Leche was sent home, losing only by $87 and noting that the high bill they owed to the restaurant that lent them food probably cost them the game. Next week the five remaining trucks head to Manhattan, Illinois, a college town where no doubt they will create some delicious munchie food for their ravenous customers.

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 Great Food Truck Race is Kicking Off

                The Great Food Truck Race is a welcome departure from the standard food network reality show featuring master chefs and elaborate kitchens. The Great Food Truck Race focuses on ‘gourmet’ food trucks, as they are pitted against each other to sell the most lunches and escape weekly elimination. The show offers unexpected insight into the daily lives of mobile food vendors, and travels with them as they travel from coast to coast selling their often unique signature meals. A large portion of the country is still weary at the thought of eating from food trucks, and something this show does well is advertising the true value of mobile food. The chefs who operate these trucks are often professionally acclaimed, and their food is nothing to look down upon.
                Season 2 premieres August 15th on the Food Network, and will feature eight new trucks from around the country. One of these trucks is New York City’s very own Korilla BBQ, though the vast majority is from California. Hosted by famed restaurateur Chef Tyler Florence, the show will certainly kick up some appetites and raise some awareness for gourmet food trucks. We’ll be back with our very own take on the premiere, come two weeks.
 
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