Top Chef

Ladies We Love: Chef Tiffany Derry (and a holiday recipe!)

December 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm , by

Chef Tiffany Derry's Gnudi with Brown Butter, Peas and Mushrooms

How does chef Tiffany Derry (of Top Chef fan-favorite fame) handle holiday parties for her 70-person (!) family?

“My grandmother is really the only one who can wrangle all of us,” she says. “But I know you also need to plan ahead and make as much as you can the day before. That’s why I love my gnudi pasta dish—you can roll the balls and store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook. Then all you need to do is boil some water, grab a sauté pan, and you’re good to go.”

If you’ve never heard of gnudi, it’s an addicting “naked ravioli” dish (click here for the recipe). Tiffany serves a variation with oxtails at her new restaurant in Dallas, Private Social, but for for the home cook, she’s created a recipe that swaps in easy-to-use mushrooms to complement the savory, gotta-have-it brown butter, and of course, lots of cheese. That’s why she’s teamed up with Sargento—the makers of the natural, unprocessed cheeses Tiffany likes cook with—this holiday season. When the cheese is the star of your dish, quality and flavor matter!

“When you cut into it and you see the melting cheese, you think, ‘Oh yeah, it’s going to be good!’ ” Tiffany says.

Cheese bites not enough to cure your Tiffany fix?  We also asked the chef to spill some of her hopes and dreams with our Ladies We Love questions:

What makes me a lady:
My southern hospitality charm.

Favorite guilty pleasure:
Foie gras. I’m not a big dessert or chocolate fan, but if you give me some foie gras … oh my gosh. I tell people in my group, if we order it for the table, it’s okay if you don’t want any!

Three things on my life list:
I want to visit Thailand—I love Asian cuisine. In fact, I’d also like to go back to China and study their food for two months. And, if I ever slow down, I would love to have a child.

I could have a super power, it would be:
I would have twin so that I could be everywhere. I’d have one that stays at my restaurant, and one that travels the world and does all of the events. I would have the best of both worlds, and nothing would be lacking.

A lady I admire:
Oprah Winfrey. How can you not? She is the ultimate woman. I love that with hard work and just going after her dreams, she made it happen. And now she has her own network. Are you kidding me? How many people have their own network?

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Ladies We Love: Carla Hall

June 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm , by

Chef Carla Hall and Fuel Up student ambassador Nikki

Chef Carla Hall and Fuel Up student ambassador Nikki

If you’re a fan of Top Chef, you probably already have a soft spot for chef Carla Hall and her impressive cooked-with-love cuisine  (and, of course, her trademark catchphrase “hootie hoo!”). Now, taking cues from Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign and the new USDA MyPlate guidelines for healthy eating, Carla is spreading the word about how important nutritious meals and fun exercise are for our kids.

“It’s all about food, yes, but you need to move. You need to get up and do something. Back in the day, we used to play. So now I think the challenge right is to go out and get everyone dancing. Especially the kids,” says Carla.

Carla’s teaming up with Fuel Up to Play 60, which brings youth wellness programs to schools (now 70,000 nation-wide!) Student ambassador Nikki, who also joined us with Carla in the LHJ offices last week, loves the changes it’s inspired in her school. “We started a walking club, and give out raffle tickets if we catch you eating a healthy food at lunch. We’ve done a taste test of different exotic fruits, parfaits, and string cheese. Kids like the new foods, and it spreads around the cafeteria, with kids wanting to bring the healthier choices for lunch,” she says.

Carla, always an advocate for cooking with whole foods, loves to hear this. “I’m all about inspiring people to cook at home, and we don’t have to dummy down kids food. Kids will eat lots of different foods if they have the chance to try it.”

One of Carla’s favorite recipes is her granola, a tasty and nourishing mix of almonds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and dried fruit, which she hopes to sell through Alchemy by Carla Hall, of which she is the executive chef and owner.  (But you can make your own now– click “Read More” below for the recipe!) “I like making granola, because I can control how much sugar is in it. And you can use it as a breakfast or a snack, or even as a topping on dessert,” she says.

Not enough reasons to love Carla? We asked her our Ladies’ We Love questions for more:

What makes me a lady:
I’m a southern lady, and I love earrings. I’ll even notice some nice earrings in a scary movie. My husband will say, “Oh, you’re such a girl.”

Favorite guilty pleasure:
A sundae with pistachio, sour cherry ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and toasted almonds.

Three things on my life list:
I want to spend a New Year’s Eve in Sydney, Australia. I want to go to Nepal and have a meditation session. And I want to have a dining experience at Alinea, Grant Achatz’s restaurant in Chicago.

If I could have a super power it would be:
I think I would fly. I just don’t walk fast enough!

Ladies I admire:
Julia Child. The Big O – Oprah, I have to say. And my grandmother.

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The Dish on Top Chef: Just Desserts

November 17, 2010 at 5:26 pm , by

Claire and JohnnyAll season I have been an avid watcher of Top Chef: Just Desserts, currently in its first season on Bravo (and also currently filling the void Top Chef left on my DVR when the D.C. season wrapped). It’s been a fun new show featuring the obvious cuisine (JUST desserts!) and has also welcomed some esteemed guest judges and drop-ins including “Mr. Chocolate”, Jacques Torres and cake maven, Sylvia Weinstock to name a few. A happy viewer all season, I thought I had been having my cake and eating it too… until last Wednesday evening when I had a most unusual and exciting viewing experience that far out-shined my usual Wednesday night routine. I was lucky enough to attend an exclusive screening of last week’s episode hosted by none other than Godiva, the show’s sponsor, and I had to share with you all the fun that transpired as the night unfolded. I walked into the event and was handed a cocktail which I clutched while making my way to a long banquet table full of chocolate creations. I hovered there for a little while taking in all the smells Gailand edible art. While hovering ( something that only ladies can do when they find themselves in front of a table o’ chocolate), someone tapped me on the shoulder and said they wanted to introduce me to Eric.  I turned around and saw Eric Wolitzky who I had been rooting for until his elimination a few weeks ago.  ”Personally, I really liked your cupcake flower bouquet!” I told him, and he of course agreed.  He was as nice in person as he seems on the show.  Then, I was seated in the back of the very glamorous room, facing the TV with several rows of people in front of me.  Before I could even worry about seeing the confections onscreen from there, Head Judge Johnny Iuzzini walked in and was seated directly behind me. Sipping my chocolate cocktail, I tried not to turn around to gawk at Johnny’s shiny black signature pompadour, but it really was beckoning me. Before I was too entranced, the show’s host, Gail Simmons glided into the room with Dannielle Kyrillos, a judge on the show as Danielle and Ericwell as Editor-at-Large for Daily Candy. Was it wrong that I wanted Johnny, Gail, and Dannielle to dive into a full-on judges’ table deliberation? I think not. As if this wasn’t enough stimulation for a celebrity chef nerd like myself, Food Network’s Claire Robinson then entered the screening and took a seat next to Johnny behind me.  At this point, losing track of the episode I was there to see, I re-directed my focus up front to watch Morgan Wilson win the Godiva chocolate Quickfire challenge. Shortly after, I was presented with a tray full of Morgan’s 4 delectable creations to try out – WOW! TV does not do justice to the work these chefs put into their desserts.  I don’t have a huge sweet tooth but I think I grew one that night.  At the end of the night, I couldn’t tell you what else happened in the episode, but it didn’t matter because I felt like I was IN an episode while at this special screening.  Of course I went home that night to resume my usual, not-so-exclusive couch screening of Top Chef: Just Desserts from the comfort of my own apartment, but it was certainly surreal eating Morgan’s winning chocolates as I watched them on my TV. Tune in tonight for the finale and write to me below about who you think should be the big winner!

Beauty Coach: Padma Lakshmi’s Recipe for Pretty Summer Skin

July 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm , by

Padma FinalJust like any good cook, new mom and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi has a few secret recipes up her sleeve, including ones for keeping her skin gorgeous. Lucky for us, she’s willing to share! Here are some of her favorite summer tricks.

Sweeten your skin routine: Got breakouts? Try this deep-cleansing facial once a week. You probably have the key ingredient in your pantry.

Step 1. Dissolve a few drops of pure tea treel oil into a bowl of hot water and use this to steam your face.

Step 2. Pat skin dry and spread pure honey all over your face, avoiding the eye area. Tap your fingers on your face for five minutes. The gooey honey will act like a vacuum to pull impurities from your pores.

Moisturize in the shower: “My new find this summer is Dial NutriSkin Body Wash. The grape seed oil and lemongrass is a great antioxidant combo.”

Get a glow: “I like to use powder bronzer on my eyelids, above my cheekbones, and on my shoulders and collarbone for a healthy look.” (Check out more ways to fake a sun-kissed tan here.)

Don’t worry: “Dedicate your life to what truly makes you happy. Happiness makes a woman beautiful.”

So what’s your favorite summer beauty recipe or best advice to be happy?

What We’re Watching: New Food Shows

April 13, 2010 at 5:18 pm , by

Since I spend the better part of my days cooking, writing and talking about food, the LAST thing I want to do after work is watch any food TV. I prefer to unwind with an episode of Damages (Love Glenn Close!) or The Real Housewives of New York City (Gab and I are both hooked). There are, however, some exceptions:

jamie-oliver-food-revolutionJamie Oliver’s Food Revolution – The former Naked Chef is on a mission to teach the West Virginia town of Huntington (and America) how to eat better and (hopefully) live longer, healthier lives. As the first episode points out, this is no small feat. The town seems quite fond of its artery-clogging ways. The show is gripping, not for what it exposes (a town addicted to processed foods), but that it is exposing it on national television during prime time. Jamie Oliver and producer Ryan Seacrest are not mining new territory here. At this point most of us already know that we are a fast food nation—still it’s nice to see somebody actually attempt to change it. Plus, the fact that the show is highly entertaining to watch can only help the cause. (Jaime showing a group of youngsters how chicken nuggets are made was enlightening.) It’s obvious that Chef Oliver is dedicated to this issue and I hope he succeeds, for all our sakes.

308780_025eeb8c-2099-45e7-b0c2-4eaa59f5d015-top-chef-mastersTop Chef Masters – I’m more than happy to bend my “no food TV” rule at home for Top Chef. As an admitted reality show addict (I’ll watch anything on Bravo), I love Top Chef because it’s great TV that just happens to be about cooking. Plus, I used to work for Tom Colicchio and I have a ton of respect for the man. That being said, the new season of Top Chef Masters (sans Colicchio) may be my favorite incarnation of the cooking competition franchise yet. It’s mind boggling to watch famous chefs (ones that I admire greatly) scrambling around the kitchen in their clogs like a bunch of culinary novices.

food-inc-posterFood, Inc. – If you never saw this Academy Award-nominated film in the theater then tune into POV on PBS at 9 p.m. on  April 21. I promise you won’t be sorry. Food, Inc. asks, “How much do we really know about the food we buy at our local supermarkets and serve to our families?” The movie sets out to answer this seemingly-basic question by exploring issues like factory farming, genetic engineering, cloning and pesticides. As the old saying goes, “You are what you eat.” As someone who considers himself fairly knowledgeable about the food world around him, even I was stunned by what I didn’t know about the food I eat.

        Ok, now back to your regularly scheduled broadcasting: Jill said WHAT to Bethenny?