It's the question everyone's dying to know: How does Giada De Laurentiis manage to stay so slim? The Food Network chef comes clean about her clean diet in her recent cookbook release. Quite the departure from her bread and
butter olive-oil Italian cookbooks, Giada's Feel Good Food ($19, originally $33) focuses on recipes that are predominately healthy, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. But that's not the only way Giada is expanding her brand. We talked about her other surprising ventures, including what she hopes to be remembered as. Spoiler alert: it's not a TV personality. Read on to see the full interview.
Clocking in at about six feet tall with the best biceps you've ever seen and a raspy, louder-than-life voice, Eden Grinshpan commands awe when she enters the room. But this beauty queen is no pushover in the food department. The girl knows how to put away some serious food — the DKA, for example — and she's doing something no one else in the food TV world is. On her new Cooking Channel show, Log On and Eat With Eden Grinshpan, she travels around the country meeting talented YouTube stars and food bloggers and dining at their favorite local eateries. Eden took some time to talk to us about her show and the most memorable things she's eaten.
POPSUGAR Food: Who came up with the Log On and Eat concept?
Eden Grinshpan: It was a collaboration of so many different people, but the concept started because of my love for going online, reading reviews, and seeing what's hot in the cities that I'm traveling to. It started off as that, and then it kind of grew into this whole platform of meeting these YouTube and Twitter stars and bringing them to television.
PS: Who finds the YouTubers and bloggers?
EG: We have a whole team. All of our producers are on top of it. I'm also on top of it, because I'm very much online and connecting with different bloggers. It's a joint effort. Also, it's through connections we meet when we're out.
We may be living and breathing Thanksgiving plans this week, but we've got nothing on the experts answering phones over at the Butterball Turkey Talk Line, who stand by each holiday season to answer your every turkey conundrum.
I recently dialed the company's talk line headquarters in Naperville, IL, where I caught up with veteran talk-line expert Marty Van Ness. She's been offering turkey advice all day, every day, two months out of the year, for the past 20 years. Since — obviously! — she's got quite a way with turkeys, Marty shared some sage turkey advice, plus a few of her favorite Butterball hotline stories.
POPSUGAR: How and when did you get started as a talk-line expert?
Marty Van Ness: This is my 20th year. Years ago, in the 1980s, I went to work in a test kitchen and met a group of women who did the talk line. I applied, got the job, and was thrilled. Now I do both jobs, all at the same time.
PS: How do you gear up for the holiday cooking season?
MVN: We start Nov. 1; prior to that, we have Butterball 101 at Butterball University, where our staff of 55 in home economics trains on all different methods of cooking turkey. We learn different methods of cooking turkey and cook all our turkeys, from opening the bag until carving at the end. It's interesting to see 10 different turkeys and their different [cooking] methods; each is wonderful for its own reason.
Read on for more turkey talk-line questions, answered.
It's a sign of the times that Alex Stupak, chef and owner of Empellón Cocina and Empellón Taqueria, became a Food & Wine Best New Chef this year for New York restaurants, which feature a modern twist on Mexican cuisine. A few years ago, a simple margarita and fresh salsa were scarcely found; now, thanks to Empellón, people can drink a killer, smoky agave old fashioned. The flight of seven salsas, made from various chili peppers and nuts, will make you wonder why you've ever pigged out on the classic red stuff instead.
But wait for dessert: the tart passion fruit curd with little, toasted marshmallow dollops and crumbled cookies is quite possibly the happiest ending to a meal you'll ever have. That's thanks to his wife, Lauren Resler, the pastry chef and coowner of their empire. "We are 50/50 partners of Empellón. I couldn't do it without her," he affirms. But the couple is not done yet: a third restaurant is in the works, and there are high hopes to write a cookbook. We spoke to chef Stupak about the importance of salsa, using seasonal produce, and why Mexican will be the next gourmet cuisine.
POPSUGAR Food: What will be the next big movement in Mexican cuisine?
The chefs who tend to receive the most attention and adoration are the ones who make us feel like we're part of the table. Even if you can't travel to London to physically eat at Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's restaurants, flipping through their cookbooks and cooking your way through them is enough to feel like the chefs have pulled out a chair for you. And that's exactly what these Mediterranean chefs have intended. While in New York for the New York City Wine & Food Festival, the guys stepped away from the kitchen to talk about their latest American cookbook release, which ingredients we need to know about, and their upcoming cookbooks and restaurants.
Cronuts: we haven't seen a population this crazed about pastries since the opening of Sprinkles Cupcakes, and there's no sign of slowing down. The world wants more Cronuts, and creator Dominique Ansel is finding ways to serve the public outside the bakery — for a good cause, of course. He recently partnered with Shake Shake to create a Cronut Hole Concrete, raising $5,000 for widows of the New York Police Department and their children. At the City Harvest's Bid Against Hunger auction, a dozen donated Cronuts went for $14,000. And over the weekend, Cronut holes made a second debut at the New York City Wine & Food Festival's Jets + Chefs event, where ticket proceeds go to the Food Bank For New York City and Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign. Dominique stepped away from his Cronut hole assembly line to discuss his life AC (after Cronut) and his proudest accomplishment. If you don't already love Dominique, then you will after hearing what he has to say.
POPSUGAR: It's been over five months since the Cronut's release. How are you feeling?
Dominique Ansel: It's been great. I see a lot of happy, very excited people every morning, and it makes me happy.
PS: Your hours are long and grueling. What keeps you motivated?
DA: What keeps me motivated? The passion that people have for food. I'm very excited to see so many people in the morning from all over the world all over the country. It's just fun. It's what I love doing, baking and cooking. And this is what people come for.
PS: You've told other journalists that you want to be known for something other than the Cronut. What do you want to be known for?
Keep reading to hear Dominique discuss his legacy.
Get excited: at long last, Top Chef: New Orleans premieres on Bravo tonight. As you count down the hours, get in the season 11 spirit by finding out what advice your favorite Top Chef contestants have for the incoming class. See what projects are keeping the likes of Fabio Viviani, Kristen Kish, and Richard Blais busy — and their tips for those cheftestants competing in New Orleans.
Andre Agassi is taking his winning ways off the tennis court and into your little one's lunch box — and it's all for a good cause. This week, Agassi launched Box Budd!es, a line of healthy snacks — think granola bars, milk boxes, and applesauce packets — with all proceeds going to the Andre Agassi Foundation For Education.
Though the tennis champ ruled the tennis world for much of the '90s and '00s — he's won eight Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal — it's his foundation that's earning him praise now. The Andre Agassi Foundation For Education has established a tuition-free K-12 charter school in downtown Las Vegas and supports top charter schools across the country, providing underserved kids with an education — something the athlete didn't have, having dropped out of school in ninth grade to pursue his tennis career.
And while we see plenty of celebs putting their names on products to make a quick buck, that's certainly not the case here. Similar to Paul Newman's philosophy behind Newman's Own, Agassi worked closely with V20 Foods to ensure that the line is both healthy and tasty. In fact, Jaden and Jaz, his children with fellow tennis champ Steffi Graf, served as the test subjects to make sure the products would appeal to kids.
We caught up with the tennis legend at the launch event. See why he's excited about Box Budd!es, what his favorite snack is, and why you won't find him cheering on his kids at a tennis match.
It's been a year since we last spoke to Justin Warner, a Brooklyn-based chef and winner of season eight of Food Network Star. At the time, he had a fireball personality and was quick to defend his feisty love-me-or-leave-me attitude. But it's clear that the year of newfound celebrity chefdom has pacified chef J-Dollar Sign a little. His calendar, inbox, and Twitter feed may be slammed, but he's showing all signs of gratitude for his fan base and hopefulness for his future on food TV land, as he calls it. I spoke to Justin on the phone to hear about his year in review (he requested link outs; don't worry, man — I got your back!) and his current projects, including a partnership with winery Robert Mondavi Private Selection and, of course, more appearances on the Food Network.
POPSUGAR Food: How much has life changed since you won Food Network Star?
Justin Warner: I’m pretty much the same person as I was before, I’m just incredibly busy all the time. I do a lot of work with email, phone, and yadda, yadda, yadda that your average Brooklyn hipster chef doesn’t really deal with. But you know what else is really nifty? Once you are a Food Network star, people really treat you with a lot of respect and think of you as an expert. I never really thought that I was an expert in anything — especially cooking, because I’m, for the most part, self-taught. It’s really great to have people come up to you on the street and say “How do you do this?” and “What do you recommend?” Someone will send out a tweet to myself, Michael Symon, and Alex Guarnaschelli, and say “How do you recommend I defrost this?” Because I’m a Twitter junkie, I’m always the first one to respond and then Michael Symon says, “Yes, I agree with Justin.” And it’s like, what? That’s nuts. You know Danny Meyer retweeted me. That’s bonkers. I used to work for the guy as a waiter, and to have your former boss endorse you . . . that’s crazy.
PSF: How has your relationship with Alton Brown evolved over the course of the year?
JW: Oh you know, pretty much the same. We hang out when he’s in town. We’re often at the same events like Food Network’s 25th Anniversary Party and New York City Wine and Food Festival. We just text, hang out, bat ideas around, play around with Twitter. We just try to keep each other entertained. I did a podcast with him, I don’t know if you heard that, you probably could link to that if you wanted to. Our relationship has probably gotten better now that we don’t have to have a semi-produced relationship in any aspect.
PSF: Do you still consider him your mentor?
JW: Oh yeah, absolutely. There are a lot of people that have influenced my life, but Alton Brown is probably one of the first people to say, "Look kid, maybe you don’t have to think you can do this, but I think you can do this. Because they think you can do this, you can do this. So go do it." And, I never thought about entertaining outside of my restaurant as an opportunity or as something that I would be even remotely acceptable at. You know, here we go. That’s what I do now. Cool, huh?
PSF: When can we expect to see more of you on TV?
JW: It will happen. We’re working out a lot of kinks. Rebel Eats was a really great special. We built it to be a stand-alone hour of hyper-interesting and super fun TV programming. I have a feeling that maybe Rebel Eats will come back as a periodic special when I get a wild hair. We’re also just trying to figure out who I’m speaking to on food TV, because my demographic, the people that are into what I do, is so broad it blows my mind. I have 14-year-olds getting onto Twitter, like “You’re my hero. Can you please tell me how to make ranch?” I didn’t even know you were allowed to have Twitter when you were 14. And it’s freaking great. So, soon. When you’ll see me again? Soon. We’ve got a lot of things that we’re tricking up. It’s tough to make TV. It takes time and you have to do it right. There’s nothing worse than bad TV.
PSF: What other projects are you working on?
JW: I’m definitely doing a demo at the New York City Wine and Food Festival with the next Food Network star, Damaris Phillips, and that’s going to be pretty nifty. I’m not going to give away exactly what I’m doing there, but it will be cool. I’m also hosting Mixology Masters for New York City Wine and Food, which is about cocktails because I’m really into cocktails. You know, other than that just showing people the good life, getting people jazzed about all facets of gastronomy, and palling around with my Mondavi gang drinking wine.
PSF: Tell me about your partnership with Robert Mondavi Private Selection. How did you get involved?
JW: Back in the day, before I was the new Food Network star, I thought for a while actually that wine was going to be my thing, because I used to write rap songs about wine, which I’m sure you can link to in your publication. So word travels [that] we [Robert Mondavi and I] kind of think the same way. I try to make crazy stuff that’s still delicious, approachable, and appropriate. I think Robert Mondavi, with his selection [of wine], kind of does the same thing. They make great wine that is not intimidating and pairs really great with food. It’s not something that you have to stare into the glass and think and lament. You don’t have to get so sommelier about it. You can just have a glass of wine and relax.
PSF: What weird and unlikely food pairings have you discovered?
JW: It’s tough to say, because I drink wine no matter what happens. People would say red wine with meat and white wine with fish and poultry. I fundamentally do not believe that that’s the case. If I think that a wine is super concentrated and really intense, man, I put an ice cube in it. I’ll treat it with Scotch. You know, with Scotch, you can't taste the subtleties until you add a little bit of water. So I don’t really follow any of the rules. What’s the weirdest thing? I’ll just have a glass of wine with french fries. Some chardonnay or sauvignon blanc and french fries. It’s the bomb, so freaking good and comforting. I don’t like to have to get too cerebral when I’m trying to have a good time. That to me is not a good time. That’s like SAT prep. Wine should not be like SAT prep.