Susie Timm, Local foodie and Owner of Girl Meats Fork posted a cryptic tweet a while back asking if i’d be interested in participating in a fiery food challenge for a good cause. Since I rarely shy away from either challenges or a good cause, I accepted without knowing what exactly I was committing to.
It turns out Bueno Burger Scottsdale created an Hamburger dubbed the “Sneaky Diablo Burger” made with several different types of Chile including the dreaded Ghost (Bhut Jolokia-formerly the Worlds Hottest Chile). What could possibly make this challenge better? Well, Rodney Hartwig and myself would be facing the fire so to speak, LIVE on television.
The Ronan Thompson Foundation is the beneficiary of Bueno Burger Scottsdale’s generosity and will recieve a portion of the purchase price of each burger sold. It seems like everyone enjoys trying to make me sweat and though this burger was quite hot i’ve certainly had hotter food. Sucking down this burger in the time allotted was the real challenge here and Rodney was the better competitor at this (despite his looking like his head was going to explode).
All in all, the absolute best part about having this challenge on Sonoran Living was talking Host Andi Barness into taking one for the team so to speak, yes, Andi ate a Ghost Chile covered Jalapeno pepper “for the kids” and looked like she wans’t going to make it….Rodney and I had to finish the shows dialogue since Andi was a bit “incapacitated.” We love you Andi, (and rumor has it, you’re no worse for wear plus I love that your crew added some pretty cool sound effects to the final video!)
“Desert Smoke BBQ is committed to combining tangy Carolina BBQ flavors with BIG, BOLD, Southwestern spices!” With that as a guiding principle, I’m always looking for new flavor combinations that will make your tastebuds smile (and smolder). Our new Habanero Peach BBQ sauce takes one of the most recognizable Southern flavors, the humble peach, to a whole new level with just the right amount of Fiery habanero chile pepper. Used as a condiment, our Habanero Peach sauce will make your chicken dishes cluck and is the perfect compliment to pork ribs, roasts and chops. Drop by your Phoenix area Whole Foods Market or Phoenix Public market and grab a bottle! (Stay tuned for an upcoming contest).
Big, BOLD flavor is what we do! Desert Smoke BBQ doesn’t follow the traditional product development model because we aren’t a traditional company. For most of 2011, many of you have heard rumblings of a new line of Hot sauces and some have even been slipped bottles to try. Our “focus group” consists of real world fire eaters, Chefs, foodies, friends and family. These are all people who’s opinions I value and who were all willing to donate their taste buds to the cause.
Without further adieu I am happy to announce the launch of the following for exciting new products:
Hatch Green Chile Hot Sauce: Fire Roasted Hatch green chiles, vinegar and salt combine to create a tart hot sauce with just enough heat to let you know its there. This hot sauce is great as a condiment on anything that could use a little heat or to add flair to your Southwestern dishes. Rumor has it, Chef Gwen Walters of Pen & Fork has even concocted a gourmet SMOOTHIE using our green chile hot sauce.
Desert Smoke BBQ Habanero hot sauce Habanero Hot Sauce: Our Habanero hot sauce is the cure for what ails you. Red Savina Habanero chiles, vinegar and spices elevate this humble chile to fiery excellence. Use as a condiment on your favorite dishes or add to soups or stews to add depth, flavor and heat.
Ghost Chile (Bhut Jolokia Chile): In an homage to the World’s hottest chile, we have created this smokey, scorchingly hot sauce for true fire eaters. Use in small quantities with extreme caution as this is the granddaddy of all hot sauces. Your taste buds will not be tickled, they will be ASSAULTED with intense heat and flavor. You have been warned. Add to soups and stews to knock the heat level out of the park, or use sparingly on your favorite foods.Ghost Chile Hot Sauce.
All three of our new hot sauces are available at Whole Foods Market stores in Arizona, Phoenix Public Market and New Frontiers Natural Market Stores in Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona.
So, the other day I get a tweet from friend/PR person Holly Harmon asking if I’d be interested in doing Sonoran Living today on short notice. “Of course” I say, I have done the show several times before and love hosts Andi Barness and Stephanie Sandoval, and I go about planning a menu for three, three to four minute segments.
Up first will be my take on the “Sonoran Dog,” a tasty Mexican-ized take on the venerable ball park hot dog. Wrap a bratwurst in thick applewood smoked bacon, deep fry and cover with tasty toppings…
Next up, Cotija and Green Chile stuffed cheeseburgers. Things all started to go pear shaped during the commercial break as the live segment at the ballpark with co-host Andi Barness lost sound and we had to hustle as the cooking segment became the main focus of the show. Stephanie never missed a beat (TRUE professional), and we rocked through the second segment with zero prep time. (notice the sizzling sound through the rest of the show, as Emeril LeGasse says “we’re really cookin here”)
What could be more refreshing on a hot summer day than a sweet, watermelon granita? Easy to make, delicious to enjoy (hint: take this recipe to the next level by adding 2oz of Jack Daniels whiskey to the mix before freezing)
Just a few last minute tips on making those Summer BBQ’s better
In all, cooking live is always challenging but working with professionals such as Stephanie Sandoval and the Sonoran Living Crew makes it all look easy! I’m already thinking about what to do the next time I’m invited onto the show.
People often comment that various Social Media outlets are a waste of time, brain power and lead to a loss of workplace productivity. For me, sites like Twitter and Facebook are a way to connect with like minded people and stay up to date on news and current events. For the Dwivedi family, Social media turned out to be a lifesaver.
Last night FnB Restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale hosted the “Tiny Fab Kidney Fund” late night dinner service to benefit Amy Donohue & The Dwivedi family. Before getting to the food, a little background on the event. A decade ago, Anu Dwivedi was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. Six months ago, her kidney function down to twenty percent, she was told the transplant waiting list was up to six years long. (not a prospect that brought comfort to her family).
Anu’s foodie daughter Kirti decided to put her social media obsession to use via Facebook with a page she created titled “Kidney disease and my tiny mother,” to learn and share her family’s experience.
Amy Donohue saw the page and decided she could help. She contacted Kirti, got the required tests done and the rest as they say, is history (or will be in the coming weeks when the transplant surgery is done).
In addition to the inspired cuisine FnB is becoming famous for, Chef Charlene Badman whipped up a few Indian inspired dishes in honor of the Dwivedi’s. (half of all revenue from food & beverage from 10PM on + 100 percent of the proceeds of a silent auction totaling approximately $1300 went to the Tiny Fab Kidney Fund).
On to the nights food! My appetizer consisted of lightly battered, perfectly fried rock shrimp ($13) served with a well balanced jalapeño tartar sauce (with a hint of Meyer lemon and fresh herbs).
Alongside my rock shrimp was a heaping serving of three varieties of cauliflower , tossed with spanish peanuts, marinated in fish sauce and mint whose soft insides were perfectly complemented by their deep fried crunch. (this dish is simply delicious!)
Next up were a pair of Samosas ($5) filled with creamy sweet potato and accompanied by a small bit of sweet, tangy dipping sauce who’s components slip my mind (Blogger/foodie foul).
Grilled spicy broccoli ($8) with pistachio and Meyer lemon aioli is flat out the best thing to ever happen to that humble green vegetable (its because of this dish that I know when broccoli season is).
A piping hot serving of traditional Punjabi Butter chicken (Makhan Wala Murgh) served over Basmati rice rounded out my meal. (I imagine this type of curry to be comfort food in Punjab).
If I had one complaint about the butter chicken it’s that I feel the sauce to rice ratio could have been better. The rich, creamy sauce definitely would have benefitted from more rice in my opinion but the flavors were great.
So then, social media is informative, recreational and the bane of workplace performance but you never know, someday it could very well save your life or that of someone you love.
Side note: If you have ever wondered what it’s like to experience true hospitality, make a reservation at FnB. Co-owner and front of house manager Pavle Milic is a study in graciousness, sincerity, service and will make you feel as welcome as anywhere you’ve ever been.
A few weeks ago a twitter friend asked me for my home address out of the blue, this seemed a bit strange but as it was someone I actually knew, I give it to her and promptly forgot about it.
Imagine my surprise a week or so later when the ‘Man in Brown‘ knocked on my door and produced a rectangular package in a plain brown wrapper. I hadn’t been expecting anything that day so I was a bit perplexed until I opened it up and found it was from Pop Chips.
Inside was information on the product, a HAND WRITTEN card indicating my friend Michelle Donati thought I might enjoy the gift and six bags of said chips!
I’d seen Pop Chips before but hadn’t had them and thought this was a great way to create excitement and get people to try the product. Popchips are all natural, not fried or baked. They are made by adding ‘a little heat and pressure’ until a chip pops into being, seasoned, packaged and sent out into the snackiverse.
I loved that none of the chips in any of the bags I opened were broken as this is a huge pet peeve of mine. I thought the chips had great crunch, good flavor and cool (if difficult to open) packaging.
I personally prefer the texture of thick cut kettle style chips from companies like Poore Brothers but I can’t think of a better way to reach out to potential new customers and create good will than Pop Chips ‘Pop it forward’ campaign. (Whomever came up with this promotion deserves a raise!) If the ‘Man in Brown’ comes knocking at your door unexpectedly, you might just find that you’ve been Popped!
Posh Improvisational cuisine in Scottsdale, Arizona is known for pushing culinary boundaries. On any given night diners can expect everything from exotic ingredients prepared with flair to more traditional fare elevated to the sublime.
In the midst of the madness that is Arizona Restaurant week, Owner/Chef Joshua Hebert has once again shown why the trail he blazes is one to be followed. Shunning the norm and turning Posh over to it’s first amateur ‘Chef 4 a night,’ Hebert throws the gauntlet down and dares others to follow.
Enter Joel LaTondress (aka @Azhotdish on twitter), Web Developer by day and winner of a recent culinary duel dubbed ‘Foodie Fight 2,’ who was invited to prepare his winning three course menu for Posh diners.
Beginning with a lite, refreshing Amuse Bouche of chilled cucumber avocado soup with mint, LaTondress showed he was serious about his food.
First up, a snapper ceviche rolled sushi style in thinly sliced avocado with hot sauce pearls and a delicate lime foam, sprinkled with black sesame seeds.
The fish was perfectly seasoned and the lite lime foam cut the fattiness of the avocado. My one complaint is that the ratio of succulent ceviche to avocado was less than I would have liked.
On to the second course, delicate avocado stuffed turkey meatballs served over a grape gastrique with tempura avocado fries.
This dish was simply delicious. Kept moist by the avocado stuffing, the turkey meatballs were juicy, flavorful and perfectly complimented by the gastrique. The avocado took on a completely unexpected texture when sliced into thick wedges, rolled in panko bread crumbs and deep fried. What a unique treat!
To finish, LaTondress served up a cannoli piped with a mixture of avocado, citrus and ricotta whose texture I wasn’t very fond of, but which had an unexpectedly pleasant taste. Along with the cannoli came an avocado ice cream sprinkled with crunchy bacon (yes I love the stuff), rich and creamy with a bit of salty goodness.
Chef Hebert took a chance on an accomplished, poised and confident amateur cook during a time when every restaurant in town is struggling to impress, and won. This is a great idea and was a dining experience worth repeating.
*Full disclosure, prior to tonights meal, I had been invited to try my luck in the unforgiving environment of this upscale kitchen and wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to spy on the competition. On October 4th I enter Hebert’s kitchen, I hope to deliver a performance equal to that of LaTondress.
After my initial live television cooking appearance on “Valley Dish,” I was invited to participate in Phoenix Cooks 2010 held at the J.W. Marriott at Desert Ridge in Phoenix Arizona. Phoenix cooks is a live cooking event in which the best and brightest Arizona Chefs and restaurants showcase their talents and demonstrate cooking techniques and recipes to throngs of event goers.
12 News Valley Dish invited myself and 4 other cooks who have appeared on the show, to cook live in the Viking kitchen on their stage. Each cook was to prepare and demonstrate a side dish and answer cooking questions.
I chose to prepare one of my favorite vegetable dishes, a Warm N’ Crunchy Summer salad made with delicious local produce and ‘Dish host Tram Mai was on hand to get the crowd going and act as Sous Chef (that woman can cook!).
My recipe preparation was to be taped and aired alongside a live appearance on the show, Friday September 10, 2010. Check out the video below to watch my demonstration, a Chef’s profile and live appearance on Valley Dish the following week.
A few days after Phoenix cooks, 12 News sent a cameraman to my house so that viewers could get an insight into who I am and what gets my culinary juices flowing:
On to my performance at Phoenix cooks where Tram and I prepared my side dish in front of a live audience on the Viking stage:
And finally, my live appearance on ‘Dish the following Friday where I prepared Brisket hash using Arizona Legacy Criollo beef with a poached egg and crispy shallots:
All in all, Phoenix Cooks was a great experience and Valley dish, as always was fun! Getting the opportunity to do what you love on television is fun, rewarding and a tremendous opportunity. Thanks to Tram Mai, the 12 News crew and the Organizers of Phoenix Cooks!
I recently read an article posted by Andrew Knowleton of Bon Appetite Magazine in which I found out that I had not only been labelled a “Cit-Crit,’ (citizen-critic) but that apparently not everyone in the “professional” food world is thrilled about this category of people.
Here’s the thing, I have much respect for all (well MOST) of the professional food critics out there whose job it is to tell us what they think about various products and restaurants. In my opinion, they provide the masses with generally well written, polished reviews. That being said, these critics are paid and reimbursed the expenses associated with their reviews. Is this bad? well, no it isn’t. These food industry professionals are providing a valuable service and should be compensated accordingly.
On the other hand, there are those out there who like myself, have a passion for food and a desire to spread the word about our experiences. I spend my own money eating things I think I might like, often at places I’ve never been, and am willing to share those experiences with others.
Having read a terribly written blog or twelve, I understand the reservations many industry professionals have vis a vis us amateurs, but I like to think that we have a different perspective that may relate a bit better to the average reader. I do not attempt to pass myself off as a professional critic though I do feel I have something valuable to add to the foodie community at large.
In the end you, the reader must decide whether or not the information found on various blogs is relevant to you and vote with your wallet and stomach. Take blog posts written by amateurs and professionals alike for what they are, opinions and make your own decision.
Here are a few food bloggers, both professional and amateur, who I enjoy reading and respect:
Chef Gwen Ashley Walters: Pen and Fork
Phoenix New Times critic: Chow Bella
Whitney Smith: Zen and good food
Erin Forney : Food Tramp Diaries
All talk of how “mild” the Summer here in Phoenix has been to date is forgotten as the mercury climbs into triple digits and threatens to stay there until sometime in late August. This leaves me in a quandary, I LOVE the sounds and smells of different foods sizzling on my grill or happily smoking away in the Weber 22 but tending to the coals while the very fires of Hell are blazing away around me, is almost unbearable.
What shall I do? Should I just resign myself to eating out or preparing less hearty fare (read: “without use of grill, smoker or oven”)? Will I be forced to hang up my apron and favorite pair of tongs until the air freshens and leaves (if we had any) begin to blush vibrantly, signaling the change in season from Summer to Fall? Would it be wise to head back into the lab (okay, my overflowing desk) to work out new recipe ideas?
The simple answer to all of this madness is “NO!” I will grill, there will be a variety of smoked tastiness emerging triumphantly from the Weber and I will be sweating profusely while enjoying the sounds of sizzling meat on the grill. Why? Because I am Man and this is what I do! (okay, it’s really because I like the taste of damn near anything cooked over fire, as has been done for eons!).