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You Can Control This Live Competitive Cooking Series From Home

I’ve often found myself shouting at the screen when watching a competitive cooking show, hoping that by sheer force of will the contestant will heed my advice. Futile, yes, but a practice I’ve been unable to shake for the better part of a decade. For anyone and everyone who have felt that frustration, there’s a new competitive cooking series that will quell that rage.

Foodbeast is introducing it’s all new Kitchen League, a live-cooking competition that airs exclusively on Foodbeast Twitch.

Watch FOODBEAST KITCHEN LEAGUE: INSTANT RAMEN w/ @BookofElie and @Outhereflourishing from foodbeast on www.twitch.tv

Here’s how it works:

Two chefs will be given a theme each week that they will have to base their dishes up0n. They will then have 30 minutes to cook a winning dish. During that time, however, Twitch viewers will have the chance to donate BITS to throw a wrench in their segment. For example, for 150 bits, the chef would not be allowed to use a knife for a minute. For 1,000 bits, the chef has to turn off the heat on their stove for a minute. So you can imagine the hijinks that will ensue once those and other sabotage from BIT donations come into play.

Once the time limit is reached, chefs will be judged by a guest host as well as the Twitch audience.

During our live Beta Test, Foodbeast Elie Ayrouth went up against Constantine Spyrou, and the two had to come up with a creative dish based on an instant noodle theme. You can check out how it all went down in the video above.

This Thursday will kick off the inaugural Foodbeast Kitchen League and feature Chef Saengthong Douangdara go up against professional eater and entertainer Raina Huang. The theme: Spicy.

Check out the livestream this Thursday Aug. 8 at 11am PST at Twitch.tv/FOODBEAST. There will also be Foodbeast Kitchen League streams every Thursday during the month of August leading up to Foodbeast’s Nood Beach, taking place on Sunday Sept. 1.

Featured Image Courtesy of Evan Lancaster and OEDesign
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Film/Television FOODBEAST Restaurants The Katchup

Netflix’s ‘Final Table’ Winner Says Culinary School Doesn’t Matter

For those of you addicted to Netflix’s cooking competition series, The Final Table, the show pairs chefs from around the world together to take on national dishes to be judged by a panel of pop culture icons and culinary authorities. Those inspired to sign up for culinary school after binging this series, may want to give your wallet a beat first. You may not need culinary school to be a lauded chef, at least according to the winner of The Final Table.

For those of you who haven’t finished the series, maybe come back to this piece after, for spoilers on the winner are soon to come.

You’ve been warned.

.:SPOILER ALERT:.

Winner of the first season of The Final Table, chef Tim Hollingsworth, appeared on The Katchup Podcast and spoke about his career and participating on the competitive cooking series.

During the episode, co-host Geoffrey Kutnick asked Chef Hollingsworth his opinion on culinary school and whether or not the resumes he receives from prospective chefs list culinary school on them matter during the hiring process.

“It does not matter to me at all,” Hollingsworth states. “At all. Period.”

“Nothing against culinary school, but I think people learn differently,” he explains. “I’m not going to sit here and say people shouldn’t go to culinary school. If you need that structure and that curriculum, then you should go to culinary school.”

Years back, Hollingsworth moved to New York to taste the experience of taking culinary courses, which he abruptly left.

“Going back, would I go to culinary school again? I would not,” he divulged. “There’s no way.”

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

The award-winning chef has no regrets about leaving culinary school behind.

He began his culinary career in his teens as a dishwasher, calling chefs and restaurants nonstop until he got his foot in the door. Hollingsworth worked at The French Laundry for 13 years where he held the title of Chef de Cuisine for four years under the acclaimed Thomas Keller.

The Final Table champion is now chef and owner of Downtown Los Angeles’ all-day restaurant Otium, and The Fields LA spots C.J. Boyd’s and Free Play.

“I’m happy I didn’t go to culinary school, I’m happy I didn’t have the debt from going to culinary school, but the one thing I wish I would have done was gone to business school,” Hollingsworth reflected. “I think that would have been helpful ’cause that part of the restaurant now, is a lot of what I do. Ultimately, if I had gone to school for that, I would be a lot more prepared now.”

Hollingsworth isn’t the only chef to feel there’s utility to enrolling in business school. Prolific chef Wolfgang Puck studied at Harvard Business School at 68 years old, where he learned negotiation skills and marketing.

Chef Hollingsworth’s views on culinary school is a breath of fresh air for those trying to make a name for themselves in the culinary world, but hoping to dodge the massive debt it could amass.

You can check out his entire interview, along with what it was like starring in Netflix’s The Final Table on The Katchup Podcast.

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Culture Opinion

Wolfgang Puck Has Been Innovating for 30 Years, And Is Nowhere Near Done

Behind swank velour curtains, surrounded by a genius staff, is a mastermind, an artist, but most prominently, an innovator.

Chef Wolfgang Puck stands across from me in his domain. We’re separated via the greatest spread of food I have ever seen, a stunning and glowing preview of what the legendary chef has cooked up for this past year’s Oscars dinner.

It isn’t surprising that every article or interview with Wolfgang Puck revolves around his repertoire, seeing as he’s the seminal celebrity chef of modern American cuisine; his reputation radiates and draws attention like the proverbial moths to a flame .

However, I was pleasantly surprised to be joined in this interview by Wolfgang Puck’s son, Byron Puck, which led to some rather not-so-formal chit chat that revealed some illuminating facts of Wolfgang’s past.

Wolfgang came from incredibly meager means. At the age of 14, he worked in a kitchen for a hotel in Austria. After days of being berated by his stepfather, telling him he was good for nothing, he decided to leave the house for good. So Wolfgang left to go to the only place he found any comfort — the kitchen.

Unfortunately, the kitchen wasn’t having it this fateful day, and his boss, who chose Wolfgang as his punching bag, told him that he was fired and to never come back. After this, a dejected Wolfgang decided to go to a bridge to drown himself. After hours of sitting on the bridge, he decided that the only real option, the one that he felt his bones dragging him to, was to go back to the kitchen.

It’s in this kitchen that Hollywood can find some of its glitz and glamor, not the facades like in the backlots of studios, but the stuff called passion and culinary artistry. It’s a fitting choice to have the one and only Wolfgang Puck as the chef to feed Tinseltown on their biggest night.

It’s with the values and morals Wolfgang walked away with through his tough time coming up that he has instilled in Byron, which are reflected in his form and methodology when cooking.

Though Byron has somewhat followed in his father’s footsteps, he is also still trying to find his own culinary voice and style.

Byron cooks at an LA restaurant/incubator, called Rogue, helmed by his father, which features a crew of young artists searching for their own narratives through food. While Byron has the option to train under and obviously mirror one of the greatest chefs on the planet in his father, he instead discovered a way to tread his own path with the tools his father gave him.

Ultimately, that’s what every parent wants, to afford their children the ability to fend for themselves. With Byron, that faculty is palpable and palatable.

Through seemingly simple dishes like steak and carrots, Rogue and Byron Puck are showing the culinary world that traditions don’t need to be ditched in order to innovate. Instead of simply fine tuning a classic dish until it’s reached perfection, Byron flips what the general public might view the dish as and create something entirely new while still respecting tradition.

It’s refreshing, too, to see that Wolfgang posits the same ideals when recounting the reason for Spago’s — his seminal restaurant — success.

“It’s really interesting because Spago has been there for over 30 years, and all the other restaurants that were open around that time have closed. Why? Because there was no change. I think change is really important, but we also cannot forget where we came from. So you have to have a good mixture of tradition and innovation,” Wolfgang posits.

“One thing I didn’t like was when people would be kept to doing small things, like dishwashing then chopping potatoes and beans, like I did for three years. I said no, I’d rather have someone who’s innovative,” he asserts.

Especially being surrounded by remakes all over Tinseltown, it’s important that there is some originality being strewn into the mix, and what better way to start than with the gut.

Rogue is doing just that, with Wolfgang allowing young chefs to experiment without worrying about economic constraints.

Now, this can very easily be painted as some elite, privileged restaurant and these young chefs are being given an advantage. But anyone who truly looks at what this restaurant means can see that it is essentially a brick and mortar of the American Dream.

With Wolfgang, he’s got both hands on the wheel, his flagship restaurant Spago is still as iconic as ever in fine dining and Rogue is showing the culinary scene what’s what in terms of pushing the envelope of culinary ingenuity.

Wolfgang Puck is synonymous with modern cuisine, and with the help of his son and the chefs of similar mind at Rogue, he can become the father of contemporary cuisine and immortalize what it truly means to be a modern chef in a performance that should be deemed Oscar worthy.

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Celebrity Grub Film/Television Video

Watch Jon Favreau Recreate The Infamous Chocolate Lava Cake From ‘Chef’

Jon Favreau’s got a knack for recreating the most iconic recipes from his culinary film Chef. After sharing the recipe for his Cuban sandwich that everyone began falling for on the Internet, the director/actor/chef has added another food from the item to his arsenal: chocolate lava cake.

For those unfamiliar, Favreau’s character in Chef, Carl Casper, had an epic meltdown over a food critic and his remarks on the chocolate lava cake Casper’s restaurant made. Casper blasted the critic for saying his cake was undercooked, saying that it was “fucking molten” instead thanks to a frozen ganache cylinder on the inside.

Favreau decided to recreate that recipe, and enlisted the help of Chef Roy Choi, who made the dishes for the film, and Andrew Rea, host of YouTube cooking show Binging with Babish. On Rea’s channel, the three joined forces to recreate the cakes just like they looked in the original film, frozen ganache and all.

It was an interesting experience for Favreau, who noted that “this is one the dish that was already plated” on set, meaning he got to learn as much from Rea as Rea did from him and Roy Choi. Rea also left the day with Favreau’s pasta fork from the set (the one used to make the sexy Aglio de Olio pasta), so he got a huge win out hanging with Chefs Choi and Casper.

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#foodbeast Features FOODBEAST

Sound Bites: Chef Aron Habiger

To us, music is food for the soul. Whenever we’re home making dinner — because fast food more than three times a week is frowned upon by our doctors — our phone is bellowing out melodies from decades we’ve nearly forgotten. Music, like food, fills us with joy and fuels us when we’re hungry for inspiration.

This leaves us curious, fascinated, and eager to learn what sort of music successful chefs listen to while they’re in the kitchen. Now some chefs may not listen to any at all, their kitchens being an ocean that demands respect and focus.

Other chefs, however, live for the music.

This new series will highlight a chef and the music that’s in their heart when working in the kitchen.

We spoke to Aron Habiger, formerly of Petit Trois, The North Left, and current head chef at Vacation Bar, and also curator at Cooking on the Lam, and asked him to share his Spotify playlist with us.

We’ve had the pleasure of seeing Habiger cook in person, and every time we’re in a kitchen with him, he’s always asking for music recommendations. Well chef, it’s time for some recommendations of your own.

Here’s what’s on Aron’s playlist:

Habiger chose to begin service with Joy Division’s “Warsaw” to get him fired up, with the following songs to keep him pumped through prep and service. To finish the night he begins to wind down with some Mos Def and ends with Sade’s “Smooth Operator” as his mellow closer.

The Southern-California based chef added that he was excited to be the first in this Foodbeast series, as music was a huge driving force for his cooking.

My eyes lit up when you asked me this, I was so excited. I wanna hear what other people listen to, because that’s the first question I ask any cook that comes in the kitchen or anyone that I ever work with. I don’t care about what you eat, or all that other stuff. Music is the thing that drives you to want to do other stuff.

So sit back, Foodbeasts, and enjoy Chef Aron Habiger’s handpicked tunes.

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Features Sweets

This Self-Taught Chef Bakes Up Some of L.A.’s Most Jaw-Dropping Cakes

Baking is probably one of the most difficult methods of cooking to get right in the world of food. One has to nail the precise measurements, technique, and temperature in order to get everything perfect.

Self-taught baker Mae-Lan Mejia of Clifton’s Republic is known for her extremely intricate and visually stunning cakes and baked goods. The historic restaurant and multilevel event space features many of Mejia’s designs on the cafeteria floor, front and center for all to see her baking wizardry.

At the entrance of Clifton’s cafeteria are dozens of whimsical cakes, created by Mejia and her crew. This visual spread includes a massive great white shark, and equally realistic sea turtles, penguins, polar bears, and dinosaur cakes.

Upon observing the marvelous details of her designs, one would think Mejia underwent years of professional training to reach the level of cake design she’s at today. But the fact that she’s fully self-taught adds more appeal to her skill.

In fact, before coming to work at Clifton’s, Mejia was a stay-at-home mom with no background in food. Rather, she had a retail, fashion, and art design background with experience in Western horse training. A far cry from baking and cake design.

Her career in baking actually began when her twin daughters asked her to make a cake for their birthday. With the cake being a surprise hit at the event, Mejia’s talents spread through word-of-mouth among her friends and family, leading to hundreds of cake requests from the self-taught mother.

Chef Mejia says her favorite orders are the most difficult ones, cakes that take anywhere from 20-60 hours to complete. As with anyone passionate about their craft, she enjoys the challenge.

Take note aspiring bakers. You don’t have to blow thousands of bucks going to culinary school to achieve this level of talent. All it takes is hard work, dedication, an eye for the outstanding, patience, and tons of flour.

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Celebrity Grub Features

Meet The Former Art Student Who Became A Chef To Celebrities


Photo Credit: Logan Fahey

We’ve cooked for friends and loved ones before, and have always come up nervous and anxious as they sit down to try our foods. Have you ever wondered what could go through your head if you were to cook for a celebrity?

If you’re like professional chef Kathleen Schaffer, it’s a walk in the park.

Schaffer, who owns Schaffer with her husband Charlie, is no stranger to celebrities. The professional chef caters for red carpet events and even the occasional private celebrity dinner.

Though that wasn’t always the case.

Originally an fine arts major, Schaffer quickly discovered that her passion was in a completely different medium. As most of us know, what you aspire to be when you were  younger isn’t necessarily how you’ll end up. Schaffer’s path turned out to be much more glamourous.

I didn’t have what it took to be a starving artist, I enjoyed eating too much.

Working through college at a handful of different restaurants, she learned that her true passion was in food and decided to continue on this trajectory. She devoted time and energy into fine-tuning her culinary skills.

So what were some of her most memorable experiences cooking for celebrities? We spoke to Schaffer who gave a us some highlights in her illustrious career. Schaffer shared a few snippets of her celebrity experience with us:


Photo Credit: Logan Fahey

Meeting Ray Charles

Schaffer recalls her first major celebrity experience years ago with none other than legendary musician Ray Charles.

“In NYC, I was catering an event for Ray-Ban in the mid-90s. Ray Charles was performing at the event. One of his handlers walked up to me and said ‘Mr. Ray Charles would like to meet the chef.'”

The two struck up a conversation about her cooking. She recalls doing something like fried chicken sliders for that particular event.

Meeting Bryan Cranston

Schaffer and her team catered for the Breaking Bad finale and had set up a faux crystal meth lab during the event. She recalls having her staff in hazmat suits making liquid nitrogen ice cream.
Mr. Walter White, Bryan Cranston, tapped me in the shoulder excitedly asked her what the setup was. As she calmly explained it to him, he replied:
“That is so cool!”
To which she calmly retorted:
“YOU ARE SO COOL.”

Photo Credit: Logan Fahey

Meeting Julie Andrews

One of her favorite celebrity experiences involved none other than Mary Poppins herself: Julie Andrews. Schaffer remember one moment that stuck with her even years later while cooking for Ms. Andrews and her late husband Blake Edwards.

“They lived in a lovely home and I was standing in the kitchen looking out the window and there was this beautiful sculpture in the backyard,” she said.
Andrews then walked up next to her and said with the most genuine smile:
“Blake made that, he’s a sculpture. I’m so lucky.”
 Schaffer recalls fondly how sincere and earnest Ms. Andrews was when talking about her husband. Blake passed away in 2010 due to complications with pneumonia.

If there’s one takeaway from Schaffer’s tale, it’s that there’s always time to find the best path for yourself. Just because you decided on one dream all those years ago doesn’t mean it’s the best life for you.

Today, Schaffer LA has catered to events for major companies such as Google, Amazon, YouTube, and Facebook. Other celebrities Kathleen Schaffer and company have cooked for include Norman Leer, Reese Witherspoon, and David Beckham.

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Celebrity Grub Video

Gordon Ramsay Tries Sushi Pizza and Immediately Spits It Out [WATCH]

Food innovations are hit-or-miss in this wacky culture of ours. In order to achieve success, one must find that perfect balance between two completely different dishes. For every cronut, there’s a sushi pizza. As a matter of fact, guess which one Gordon Ramsay can’t stomach?

In a classic episode of Kitchen Nightmares, the world-famous chef visits the failing restaurant Sushi Ko to help the husband and wife owners turn their business around. One of the items he was served on his visit was a sushi pizza made with rice, salmon, crab, mayonnaise, and some cheese.

Sounds scrumptious.

Check out Chef Ramsay’s reaction to this sushi pizza

With all the possible food combinations out there, perhaps sushi and pizza aren’t the best choices to meld together. That being said, a chili cheese churro would sing symphonies in ol’ Gordon’s gullet. Perhaps one day we’ll be lucky enough to serve it to him.