A self-proclaimed "beast in the kitchen" with unrivaled knife skills, Kevin is currently the Executive Chef at Rat's at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ, which is managed by Stephen Starr. After earning his BS of Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales in Miami, Kevin went on to become the Chef de Cuisine at The Grill at Philadelphia's Ritz-Carlton Hotel and was included in the 2007 list of "Top 10 Chefs" by Philadelphia Style magazine. In 2008, Kevin served as the Culinary Director of Garces Restaurant Group and was named winner of Best Meat Presentation at Bocuse d'Or USA. This African American, Italian chef declares he's the "Barack Obama of the cooking game" and wants to prove that "he can."
I've been all over this green Earth, from burning THC (Texas Hill Country) pits to the Pollo al Carbon units on the highways of Puerto Rico to the rickety Bun Thit Nuong stands by the lake in Hanoi, and you simply cannot obtain better ribs and brisket than the sweet pink smoked meats at Abner's BBQ in Jenkintown.Strong work, Al. And yes Abner's is pretty sweet.
for Food Network's 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, and asked any locals trying out to let us know. Turns out that a Philly couple made the cut. Lisa Fernandez, a full-time student and brain trauma clinician at the Philadelphia College of Medicine, and her boyfriend Zack Gaynor, a former manager at Maggiano's and Bahama Breeze, just finishing filming for the show, a restaurant-based competition between two teams of two. The episode which we hear involves the couple serving the judges something involving Philly's own ROOT liquor will air in late June or early July.
This Saturday, April 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Food Network's holding a casting call for Worst Cooks in America at the Loews Hotel at 1200 Market. They're looking for people "with a genuine inability to cook, but a need to desire and improve" to apply to the show, which involves woefully unskilled kitchen jockeys getting trained by pro chefs Anne Burrell and Beau MacMillan. The elimination series involves a $25,000 prize to whichever cook survives till the end. (Above is Philly's Jenny Cross, who made it all the way to the finals on the show's first go-round.)
If you're interested in applying (or want to nominate someone), e-mail worstcooksphilly[at]gmail.com with all the pertinent info: name, age, hometown, occupation, phone number, and a "recent photo of the hopeless cook." More info and the application available here.
Last night, Food Network aired an episode of the cook-off show Chopped featuring two local competitors Eric Paraskevas of terra (243 S. Camac st.) and Mackenzie Hilton of Mercato (1216 Spruce St.). We just touched base with both chefs to get their thoughts on the experience (spoiler after the jump, in case you haven't seen it).
Hosted by Ted Allen, the hour-long show involves four chefs and three rounds appetizer, entrÃ©e and dessert. Each chef is given a basket of random ingredients and 30 minutes to come up with a dish. It's cruel and unusual for professional chefs and usually pretty entertaining for those watching at home.
Paraskevas was eliminated in the entrÃ©e round, for which the "secret" ingredients were tapioca pearls, carrots, fruit leather (yes, fruit leather) and rabbit. Judges chalked it up to an undercooked piece of meat. A third competitor, Dorchester, Mass.-based chef Chris Coombs (placed into the role of "pretentious villain") got the nod over Paraskevas, despite failing to plate a good portion of the meat in a loin/rack/liver rabbit trio.
Hilton made it all the way to the final round, where she and Coombs were asked to make a dessert with yucca, calimynra figs, hoisin sauce and red jalapeno peppers. The chef, who's been at Mercato since it opened in 2005, ended up winning the competition and a $10,000 purse with cinnamon zeppoles with hoisin chocolate sauce and fig yucca cream. On the show, she says the money will support her dream of opening her own restaurant, but she doesn't have any solid details to share on that project as of right now.
On how she ended up on the show: They contacted Mercato and told them that they were interested in having me apply for the show. I'm not sure how they got my name, but I had a feeling they were looking for more female chefs. This year they seem to be trying to get more diversification on the show, because it's been so male-dominated.
On the other guy who wasn't Eric: My competitor for the last round [Coombs] I've gotten a lot of messages, text messages, messages on Facebook, saying how everybody hated him. He was a little bit abrasive at times, but he was really, really, honestly a nice guy. We all had a great camaraderie that they didn't put on the show. For example, in the dessert round, we had all planned out ahead of time that whoever was left, we would just grab all the stuff that we needed and keep it between our stations, and communicate who's got what. "I'm grabbing the sugar, I'm grabbing the flour." They didn't show that at all. They wanted to make it a little nastier than it actually was.
By the time Chris and I got out of there, it was like 10:30 at night. We ended up grabbing a drink afterward. We'd spent this entire day together. Everyone [has been saying] this guy is such an asshole, but he's not. He's very accomplished for his age, coming up and really hungry in the industry. It was cool to meet more people like that, chefs on the same pathway as you.
On whether or not they encouraged her to play up a Mercato/terra rivalry: I didn't think of it as a rivalry. I was excited that Eric was there. It was a high-stress situation and Eric's a really cool, laidback, funny guy. He kept us really relaxed. He's not a stranger he was Marcie Turney's sous chef [at Lolita] when I was [Marcie's brother] Evan Turney's sous chef [at Mercato]. I liked the fact that he was there.
On whether she would do it again: No. It's so difficult, because you have to consider that they can take anything you say or do out of context and portray you possibly differently that you want to be. I felt like I had to be very calculating because I didn't want to say something that could be misconstrued. I can't imagine going through months of that like they do on Top Chef. I was really glad I did it, but they kind of make it hard to represent yourself well as a chef. You're in a foreign kitchen with completely foreign utensils, you don't know what's where, you're cooking ridiculous combinations. On every level they're kind of setting you up to fall on your face and look like an idiot.
On how he was portrayed: I have to say, I was pleasantly pleased with how I came across. I thought they made me look pretty good. ... [However], I was shocked at the sheer volume of space I took up. People always tell me I'm a big guy but I never really fully see myself. It was weird to see my whole body on camera ... strange to see how giant-esque I appeared.
On whether or not they encouraged him to play up a Mercato/terra rivalry: I did want to win. They used a "I wanted to beat the woman down the street" quote, but of course I did. I'm ultimately glad that [Hilton] won because that other dude [Coombs] was a choad. But they didn't make us play up anything. When we were competing, I could hear them mentioning that we were neighbors I imagine that's why we were both cast to be on the same show. I'm glad Mackenzie won and I'm glad they painted me in a good light.
On being eliminated: I was kind of mad about the decision. Obviously I was disappointed. Mackenzie put together a good-looking dish, but [the judges] said it was big and bulky. After hearing the faults [they thought her dish had], [Coombs'] food looked like a pile of blah. I didn't have a meat thermometer [for the rabbit]. I tried to make it happen, took a risk but failed.
On TV do-overs: The only thing that isn't scripted is the actual [cooking] time. Once you finally do open those baskets, the time starts then. [For other segments], they ask you to go back to certain things to talk about. They'll say, 'The judges said something, what do you think of that?'
On whether he would do it again: I would, I definitely would. It was a chance at victory. It was a one-day shoot. Ten Gs for one day of work even after taxes, that's $7,000 for one day of work. Why wouldn't you?
Eric Paraskevas of terra (243 S. Camac St.) and Mackenzie Hilton of Mercato (1216 Spruce St.) will take on ingredients like rattlesnake meat and red jalapenos in tonight's episode of Food Network's incredibly easy to watch cook-off show Chopped. It airs at 10 p.m. and again at 1 a.m. Paraskevas is doing a Victory beer dinner with an incredible-sounding menu this evening; over at Mercato's sister restaurant Valanni (1229 Spruce St.), meanwhile, they'll be hosting a viewing party for Hilton, with ROOT cocktails, that begins at 9:30 p.m.
Jeremy Duclut, chef at georges' in Wayne, took it home in an October Chopped episode that also featured Prive chef Peter Karapanagiotis and local caterer Barbara Esmonde.
Chef Eric Paraskevas of terra (243 S. Camac St.) will appear on an episode of Food Network's Chopped next Tuesday, April 6, the same night he'll host a Victory beer dinner at his restaurant. The episode will air at 10 p.m. and again at 1 a.m.; no word yet on the secret/ridiculous ingredients he'll have to cook with.
Three other Philly chefs recently appeared on an episode of the show back in the fall.
|Questlove on TwitPic|
Cafeterias have been getting lots of wack press lately. First the Inky's Craig LaBan finds a big-ass hair in the cheesesteak he orders at the already-health-code-violation-beleaguered Capitol CafÃ© in Harrisburg. Now ?uestlove, Roots Crew icon, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon bandmember and unapologetic Overtweeter, shares this pic of a Black History Month special in the NBC employee eatery, accompanied by the caption "Hmm HR?"
So is this racist? It's definitely the safe play to say yes, but peruse the comments section on Vulture, or on the TwitPic itself, for some alternate takes. Seems like a lot of people feel that labeling this whole deal insensitive is a knee-jerk overreaction. We've compiled a few of our favorite comments after the jump. One or two of them are notably insightful and the rest of them are pretty much just funny/true.
I don't know about the rest of ya'll FOOLS, but I eat that on the regular. And for the record the look of hurt on the BLACK chef's face when she was told that BLACK people were offended by her idea is really sad.
Um, it's not the soul food. It's the "in honor of Black History Month" part that's racist. Kind of like saying, in honor of Lunar New Year, we're going to give all Asian people driving lessons.
Racism aside, that is a lot of food for 7.50
I am going to make a huge issue with HR when our cafeteria does the corned beef/cabbage/sourdough bread combo for St. Patrick's Day. What, just because I'm Irish I eat corned beef and potatoes all the time and that's how you label me? Not to speak of the leprechauns and other such nonsense that patronizes our culture and reduces us to boorish alcoholic stereotypes who like listening to fiddles and causing fights. Outrage!
post-racial menu quandry of the day: do you eat the fried chicken even if it is racist?
Soul Food's not complete without a side of heart attack inducing Mac & Cheese. Sayin.
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