While at the New York City Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash and Jets + Chefs events, we couldn't help but notice the ingenious and unusual tailgating ideas. Surf and turf burgers, beer keg bowls, and buffalo-sauced shrimp are a few items that will guarantee a touchdown of a game day feast.
Despite being the Top Chef host for a decade now, there's no sign of wear and tear on Padma Lakshmi. Up close, she's stunning and looks well rested, her youthful skin practically glows, and she exhibits a calm demeanor. She was at the New York City Wine & Food Festival's Grand Tasting Tent to promote two new products: I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Deliciously Simple and Country Crock Simply Delicious. After smearing spread on a few bites of toast, we sat down and talked about Top Chef and her experience in New Orleans.
POPSUGAR: How does it feel to have just completed another season of Top Chef?
Padma Lakshmi: It’s my 10th season. I’m really proud of the show. We are 45 percent up in ratings from last season. I think it’s a testament to my producers and Tom and Gail. There’s nothing like Top Chef. With all humility, we are a really big team that works as a well-oiled machine together. We all know our roles and we all do them well. We genuinely like working with each other. I think it’s particularly true of New Orleans. Usually no matter how much you love your job or love your colleagues, after six weeks being away from home, you want to sleep in your own bed. This time we were a little sad.
PS: Do you have any favorite chefs from this season?
PL: I can’t. But sometimes you’re not even rooting for the front-runners. Sometimes you wind up rooting for the screwups. You’re like, “Come on! You know this!” You root for the problem children. It’s never easy to tell someone to go home. I’m with these chefs more than anybody else, and each group of chefs is like a class, like a fourth-grade class. You see them working so hard, and they are so passionate about what they do. It’s hard to say, "Please go home." It just happened that someone else’s dish was better than theirs that day.
PS: Do you have some memorable moments from New Orleans?
PL: I did another series on Bravotv.com called Padma’s Picks, and it’s actually a prequel to Top Chef. It’s a love letter to New Orleans. [The episodes] show parts of the city that we typically don’t have time to show on Top Chef. It gives you a little idea about the casting process. It’s more a travelogue. At the end of it, there is a little competition to see who moves forward.
In the early days of chef stardom, Emeril Lagasse would get off work at his New Orleans restaurant at 2 a.m., catch a flight for New York at 7 a.m., and film 14 shows in two days. Between shoots, his small crew would eat and go back to filming, full and sleepy. "I realized, I'm, like, alone here. Everyone is sleeping," Lagasse joked at his TimesTalks event on Saturday. "So, bam!" It was his way of waking up the camera crew.
On stage during the New York City Wine & Food Festival and in our one-on-one interview before the event, Lagasse wasn't the spastic ball of energy he is on TV. He was far more reserved yet still oozing with charisma. When he said he just wants to hire people "who want to make people happy," it sounded sincere.
Yes, he makes millions of dollars and he basically built the Food Network on his personality. But when we asked him what brings him the most joy, he said it's still the restaurant work. "That's my backbone. That's what really pushes the buttons for me," said Lagasse. "Taking care of people and cooking for people. That's what does it."
Lagasse doesn't understand how cooking became a competitive sport or when culinary school evolved into such a massive force, but he's a great admirer of the talent on Top Chef. And he told us, "Everything has to evolve. It certainly in 20 years has evolved a lot." Do today's chefs put less focus on technique and history? "I think they want it. I just don't think they're getting it," he said. Lagasse's advice to young chefs is to find a mentor and focus on learning.
For the best morsels from Lagasse's TimesTalk, keep reading.
Thousands flocked to Rachael Ray's Burger Bash at the New York City Wine & Food Festival tonight to try 27 of the best burgers New York City has to offer. With all those flipping patties, there were bound to be some repetitive features. From bacon condiments (yes, you heard right!) to Eastern-influenced burgers, one thing's for certain: burger makers are thinking outside the bun.
Headed to the New York City Wine & Food Festival or any other major culinary event soon? If so, then you'll want to watch our survival guide to braving a weekend's worth of food, wine, and spirits. We asked everyone from pastry whiz Jacques Torres to Iron Chef Michael Symon to former Top Chef contestants what their insider tips are for navigating an epicurean event. Learn what their best practices are — plus our secret tip for navigating tasting tables!
This coming weekend marks the sixth annual New York City Wine & Food Festival, where foodies flock to New York to eat like royalty and rub shoulders with chefs and food personalities. Dinners, demos, and grand tastings takes place Oct. 17-20. Each year, our editors attend the festival to catch up with chefs, spot new food trends, and declare our new favorite food products. Still scratching your head? These six reasons should convince you that the event needs to be on your radar this year.
The Tickets Raise Money For a Good Cause
All the festival proceeds go to the Food Bank For New York City and Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign. With its more than 50,000 attendees, you can imagine a lot of food and millions of dollars are raised for the cause. See the entire festival breakdown, by the numbers.
Discover Top Food Trends
We spotted pickles, Jewish deli foods, and Korean as just a few major new food trends during last year's festival.
We're barely into football season, and we've already seen more than a few upsets. One area where you can make sure nothing goes wrong? The snack-time spread. Whether you're gathering friends and family to cheer on your alma mater or your favorite NFL football team, you'll want to make sure everyone's well stocked on game-day provisions.
To help you out with your sports-day snack spread, we enlisted the help of Rocco DiSpirito, Dominique Ansel, and Mary Giuliani, who'll all be at the New York City Wine & Food Festival Jets + Chefs Ultimate Tailgate this Saturday, to share their winning tips for game-time entertaining and eating in style.
Even if you can't make it to the New York City Wine & Food Festival, you can still cook like a celebrity chef! Shape shared these healthy recipes that will be featured at this year's event.
Create gourmet meals from some of the top names in cooking at home!
Southwestern Grilled Salmon With Tomato-Red Chile ChutneyTry this healthy dinner recipe by celebrity chef Bobby Flay!
Nutrition per serving: 292 calories, 14g fat (2g saturated), 15g carbs, 26g protein, 2g fiber, 119mg calcium, 3mg iron, 127mg sodium
Barilla® Gluten-Free Spaghetti With Tomatoes and BasilSatisfy your craving for Italian food with this gluten-free pasta dish provided by Lorenzo Boni!
Nutrition per serving: 384 calories, 29.5g fat, 8g saturated, 19g carbs, 14g protein, 2g fiber, 328mg calcium, 1mg iron, 678mg sodium
Broccoli and Turkey Sausage Frittata With Roasted Tomato and ArugulaThis fast and filling frittata recipe from Michael Ferraro is so versatile, you can enjoy it at any time of day!
Nutrition per serving: 239 calories, 11g fat, 3g saturated, 5.5g carbs, 31.5g protein, 1.5g fiber, 46mg calcium, 2mg iron, 607mg sodium
Grilled Shrimp With Black Quinoa, Avocado, and Orange SaladThis grilled shrimp with quinoa and avocado salad recipe from Franklin Becker is packed with protein and flavored with fresh herbs and citrus.
Nutrition per serving: 279 calories, 19g fat (2g saturated), 21g carbs, 12.5g protein, 6g fiber, 62mg calcium, 3mg iron, 279mg sodium
This is the story of how two food writers so loved a chili recipe, they sought out to re-create it at home, with no recipe or guidelines other than the memory still lingering on their taste buds.
It was the end of the day at the New York City Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting. YumSugar editor Susannah Chen and I wearily made our way to the Chipotle stand to seek refuge from the onslaught of cupcake-infused vodkas and countless tomato sauce tastings. We knew whatever Chipotle cooked up would perk up our fatigued palates, and sure enough, as soon as we saw smiling Chipotle servers doling out steamy bowls of chili off the stainless-steel countertops, we made a mad dash.The Original Chipotle Chili
The chili was a godsend on a bone-chilling day in New York City. Susannah and I quickly gobbled down our piping-hot bowls of chili, only breaking the silence with our intermittent exclamations of phrase like "Oh. My. God." and "Wow. Mmm-hm." Once we finished our bowls, we eagerly asked the Chipotle employees, "When can we expect this amazing chili to hit restaurants?" The employees chuckled and said, "Sorry gals. Don't expect this to be out anytime soon. If anything, we might release it to one or two locations in DC."
Our hopes of round two chili were almost crushed! Luckily, Susannah pressed on: "Well, what exactly is in this recipe?" The employee, hesitant to reveal Chipotle recipe development chef Nate Appleman's secret ingredients, replied, "If you combine Chipotle's barbacoa, pinto beans, and black beans, then you're halfway there." It was enough information to give us a jumping-off point. Susannah and I looked at each other and in jinx-like manner screamed, "Recipe hack!"
So allow me to present to you the YumSugar Chipotle Chili recipe hack, which was made in our office using a single electric stove-top burner and a nonstick soup pan. We tortured our co-workers with this dreamy clove-and beer-scented chili bubbling in the kitchen for hours, as the starches in the beans broke down to create a thick, unctuous mixture. Finally, the moment had arrived for the taste test.
Admittedly upon first bite, Susannah and I couldn't determine whether or not we had accurately hacked chef Appleman's recipe, but we knew we had made something good. The Texan in me comes out when I emphasize real good. The caramelized onions add a sweetness to the acidic tomato stew. The dark beer and cloves subtly boost the flavor of the chili, giving it that indescribable je ne sais quoi, or yo no sé lo que, since this is a Mexican dish after all. The salty, spicy broth soaks into the barbacoa beef and beans, and the crunchy radish and chip topping keeps the overall texture interesting and diverse.
Upon the first spoonful, several tasters broke down and could hardly stutter more than "Oh wow." and "Best. Chili. Ever." We think this story has a happy makeshift ending, but until Chipotle makes our chili dreams come true by putting this item on menus across America, we'll have to resort to cooking up our own Chipotle chili recipe hack.
This question was the subject of a panel at the New York City Wine & Food Festival, where chefs Art Smith and Sue Torres, and Marc Murphy, culinary personality Katie Lee, and author Allison Adato talked about staying healthy in the food industry. While the easiest food to grab on the go — french fries, anyone? — isn't often the best choice, chefs recognize the importance of eating for health. Just ask Art Smith, who lost 95 pounds after a diabetes diagnosis. "There was no way I could run restaurants," he said of his prior health condition.
Now chefs like Smith are much more mindful about the impact their cooking has on clientele. "I'd rather have customers for a long time and not contribute to their demise," Smith says. "We are what we eat, and chefs are facilitators of food." Keep reading for a few healthy eating tips from chefs.