Alton Brown's flair in the kitchen developed early with guidance from his mother and grandmother, a budding culinary talent he skillfully used later "as a way to get dates" in college. Switching gears as an adult, Alton spent a decade working as a cinematographer and video director, but realized that he spent all his time between shoots watching cooking shows which he found to be dull and uninformative. Convinced that he could do better, Alton left the film business and moved to Vermont to train at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vt. Soon after, Alton tapped all of his training to create Good Eats, a smart and entertaining food show that blends wit with wisdom, history with pop culture and science with common cooking sense. Alton not only writes and produces the shows but also stars in each offbeat episode on Food Network.
Alton Brown's first book, I'm Just Here for the Food (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2002) won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Cookbook in the Reference category, was one of the bestselling cookbooks of 2002 and has sold over 300,000 copies to date. It was also chosen by Amazon.com as one of the top 50 books of 2002 by both editors and readers.
Alton Brown's Gear for Your Kitchen, his long-awaited homage to tools and gadgetry, was published by STC in September 2003 and was nominated for both a James Beard Award for Best Cookbook in the Tools & Techniques category and an IACP Cookbook Award in the Food Reference/Technical category. Gear is an essential guide to all the "hardware" you need in the kitchen. Packed with practical advice and tips, this book takes a look at what's needed and what isn't, what works and what doesn't.
Alton's third book, on baking, I'm Just Here for More Food, hit bookstores in November 2004 and has since gone on to become a New York Times bestseller.
Alton's newest series, Feasting On Asphalt , features Alton with only his motorcycle, a few buddies and the clothes on his back, taking a nostalgic trip across the country to rediscover the disappearing people, places and stories of great American road food. Feasting On Asphalt merges a little Easy Rider with good eats and great tales from our road food's past and present, while preserving the map for its future.
For more information on Alton Brown, visit www.altonbrown.com
Read Alton Brown's Bio
Bobby Flay's culinary versatility is evident in the multiple talents he brings to the field: as critically-acclaimed chef/restaurateur, award-winning cookbook author and television personality. However, his first priority always remains with his restaurants, Mesa Grill, Bolo, Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Bar Americain, his first-ever steakhouse, Bobby Flay Steak at Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, and his latest opening, Mesa Grill at The Cove, Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas.
Flay discovered his culinary identity at the age of 17, working as a cook at the famed theater district haunt, Joe Allen's. The job had been arranged by his father, who was a partner in the restaurant. After a short time, Joe Allen himself became so impressed by Flay's emerging talents that he paid the young cook's tuition to The French Culinary Institute. Flay obviously excelled and later received the institute's first "Outstanding Graduate Award" in 1993, and now serves there as Master Instructor.
Following his graduation in 1984, Flay worked with restaurateur/owner Jonathan Waxman at Buds and Jams, where he first discovered the sweet-heat of southwestern ingredients. It was at these burgeoning restaurants that Flay met other icons of the era — Wolfgang Puck, Jeremiah Tower — who he credits with spawning an entire generation of chef. "Chefs like Wolfgang [Puck] and Jonathan [Waxman] gave a lot of chefs in my generation a career," says Flay. "They created a genre that proved good food didn't have to be fussy; that food could be delicious and creative while embracing great colors and textures." After Jams, Flay debuted as Executive Chef at the East Village's Miracle Grill where he caught the attention of restaurateur Jerome Kretchmer. Kretchmer offered the 25-year-old an opportunity to create his own sensations at Mesa Grill which opened in 1991.
"I'm hoping to put a new and colorful twist on southwestern cuisine," said Flay just before Mesa Grill's launch. He certainly did and since then the flame-haired chef from Manhattan has earned widespread acclaim, including the "Best Restaurant 1992" award for Mesa Grill by New York Magazine's Gael Greene. The restaurant's two-star review in 2000 by New York Times Critic William Grimes raved that "the sassy fare at Mesa Grill surpasses anything of its kind elsewhere in New York. Mr. Flay, to his credit, has seized on the southwestern idiom and made it a natural part of his cooking language." In the wake of such critical success, the young chef was made partner. Soon after, Flay teamed with businessman Laurence Kretchmer to open Bolo in November 1993 in the Flatiron district.
For Bolo, Flay drew inspiration from the bravado and complexities of Spanish food, deftly blending the unique flavors of Spain with more familiar American ingredients. That same year, Flay was voted the James Beard Foundation's Rising Star Chef of the Year 1993, an award that honors the country's most accomplished chef under the age of 30. A decade later, its menu reenergized by the introduction of tapas, Bolo was awarded a rare "three stars" by The New York Times. William Grimes declared that "Mr. Flay brings color, life, and creativity to every dish he touches." Underscoring this assessment, Bolo continues to be dubbed the top Spanish-inspired restaurant in New York City by the Zagat Survey.
In 2004, Flay brought his unique amalgam of innovative food and inviting hospitality to Las Vegas with the opening of Mesa Grill at the legendary Caesars Palace. The city's upbeat urban energy provides the perfect backdrop for Mesa Grill's lively cuisine.
At New York's Bar Americain, which opened in March 2005, Flay's vision takes the intimacy of a mid-town brasserie and injects it with authentic American flavors and style. Drawing exclusively from regional American ingredients, Flay's dishes rejuvenate old classics and celebrate the abundance of America's diverse and delicious heritage. Bar Americain has received rave reviews from the press including "two-stars" from The New York Times.
The recognition Flay has gained at Mesa Grill , Bolo and Bar Americain for his stellar dishes has built his reputation as a major force not only in New York but also nationwide. In addition to his restaurants, Flay shares his knowledge and enthusiasm for food through his cookbooks and cooking programs on Food Network. His first book, Bobby Flay's Bold American Food (Warner Books, 1994), won the 1995 International Association of Culinary Professionals award for design. Five more cookbooks soon followed: From My Kitchen to Your Table (Clarkson Potter, 1998), Boy Meets Grill (Hyperion, 1999), Bobby Flay Cooks American (Hyperion, 2001), Boy Gets Grill (Scribner, 2004) Bobby Flay's Grilling For Life (Scribner 2005) and his most recent, The Mesa Grill Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2007), each lending a unique urban-inspired approach to grilling, proving yet again that there is no limit to what can be cooked on the grill
Since debuting on Food Network in 1996, Flay has continuously hosted programs that bring cooking tips and information on American regional fare to a national audience. These shows include Throwdown with Bobby Flay, the Daytime Emmy-winning Boy Meets Grill and the popular Iron Chef America. Flay is also food correspondent for The Early Show on CBS where he regularly informs a national audience about seasonal dishes and ingredients.
As passionate about New York as he is about food, Flay has found a unique way to give back to the community by establishing a culinary scholarship for New York City high school students through his alma mater, the French Culinary Institute. Working closely with budding young chefs in Long Island City High School's C-Cap (Careers through Culinary Arts Program), Flay personally selects the student with the greatest potential to be the recipient of this annual scholarship. Flay documented this experience in his Food Network special Bobby Flay: Chef Mentor which earned him a James Beard Foundation award for a National Television Food Show 2005.
In spring 2008, Flay will launch his first line of branded products with Food Network and Kohl's. "Bobby Flay at Kohl's" will feature casual, worldly, lifestyle grilling and entertaining products, including cookware, dinnerware, kitchen gadgets, utensils, cutlery and textiles. The items will represent Flay with bold colors, rich textures and product innovations, allowing the home cook to take their grilling and entertaining to the next level.
Flay possesses a remarkable ability to create and retain the individual character of each of his projects, insisting on uniqueness and integrity. He works tirelessly to challenge diners' expectations and influence the way Americans view and taste food — making it bold, zesty and always fun. The future is very bright for Bobby Flay, and as a result, for the American table.
For more information about Bobby Flay click here: http://www.bobbyflay.com/
Iron Chef America Profile:
From: New York City
Restaurants: Mesa Grill, Bolo, Mesa Grill (Las Vegas), Bar Americain
Cuisine: Mesa Grill is American Southwest, Bolo is Spanish-inspired and Bar American is regional American
Interests: Travel, golf, food
Ideal secret ingredient: Any kind of shellfish
Culinary inspirations: Wolfgang Puck, Jonathan Waxman, Julia Child
Ideal judge: My mother
Culinary secret weapon: It’s a secret and giving it away could jeopardize my chances of winning another match.
Favorite restaurant: I have too many to just choose one.
Favorite food: Ice cream
Food you won’t go near: Fiddlehead ferns
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: Fish testicles
Favorite food destination: Anywhere in the US: New England, the Deep South, and the Pacific Northwest. They all have amazing ingredients and chefs and I am always blown away by the recipes and the food.
Alternative dream job: Mayor of New York
Read Bobby Flay's Bio
It's no surprise Cat Cora became a world renowned chef. Her culinary aspirations began at an early age, and by 15, she had developed a business plan for her own restaurant. In 2005, she made television history on Food Network's Iron Chef America as the first and only female Iron Chef, and in November 2006 Bon Appétit Magazine bestowed her with their Teacher of the Year Award, an award she calls, "the greatest recognition she could achieve as a chef." That month, she was also honored with another great culinary distinction when she was named executive chef of the magazine.
There is no doubt Cat's upbringing had an influence on her career. She was raised in a small Greek community in Jackson, Mississippi, by a family for whom cooking and eating were the center of life. At the Cora house, it was common to eat spices from the south, as well as fresh sheep and goat cheeses and home-cured olives sent by relatives from the island of Skopelos. Her first cookbook, Cat Cora's Kitchen was inspired by her Greek and southern heritage and contains many of her families’ favorite recipes.
With advice from of her famous mentor Julia Child, Cat left Mississippi for New York, where she received the education of her dreams at The Culinary Institute of America. While in New York, she apprenticed with and then worked for chef Anne Rozenweig at Arcadia and worked at the Beekman Tavern under chef Larry Forgione of An American Place.
Cat's culinary education continued in Europe with apprenticeships with two of France's three-star Michelin chefs. From George Blanc of Vonnas, she learned a great deal about tolerance, extreme cooking and the cuisine of the French countryside. With Roger Verge, she learned not only about classical French cuisine, but also about embracing life and living it to the fullest.
After returning to New York, Cat honed her skills as a sous chef at The Old Chatham Shepherding Company under chef Melissa Kelly. She soon headed west to plant her roots in Northern California, where she served as chef de cuisine at Napa Valley's Bistro Don Giovanni.
Cat made her TV debut in 1999, as co-host of Food Network's, Melting Pot with Rocco Di Spirito. She went on to host My Country My Kitchen: Greece, Date Plate and was one of the featured hosts on Fine Living's Simplify Your Life. A documentary, Cat's In The Kitchen was also made about her first James Beard dinner in April, 2002.
Prior to Iron Chef America, Cat was co-host of Food Network show, Kitchen Accomplished where she worked with a design expert and contractor to surprise a homeowner with a 3-day kitchen makeover. In 2006, Cat appeared alongside Wolfgang Puck in NBC's primetime miniseries, Celebrity Cooking Showdown, where celebrities were paired with famous chefs and competed in a timed cook-off à la Iron Chef.
Cat is part of Macy's Culinary Council, a national culinary authority, comprising 15 of the world's most prominent chefs. The Council serves as the face of Macy's Culinary and Housewares divisions, impacting how customers are inspired to shop, cook and eat at home.
Outside of the kitchen, Cat is known for her philanthropy. She is president and founder of Chefs for Humanity, an organization which was founded in response to the 2004 tsunami disaster. Modeled after Doctors Without Borders, the not-for-profit gathers the culinary community together to raise funds and provide resources for important emergency, educational and hunger-related causes. In addition to this, she recently became the nutritional spokesperson for UNICEF.
With her recently launched second book, Cooking From The Hip: Fast, Easy, Phenomenal Meals (Houghton Mifflin), Cat elevates at home cooking to new levels. The book applies her "go-with-what-you've got" philosophy to creating simple, yet sensational meals. Cat's signature restaurant is also set to open in 2007.
Cat resides in Northern California with her family, including her biggest fans, her two sons. You can learn more about Cat Cora by visiting her website.
Iron Chef America Profile:
From: San Francisco Bay/Napa Valley via New York, France, California and Jackson, Mississippi.
Restaurants: Working on my signature restaurant.
Cuisine: Mediterranean, particularly Greek, French and Italian. Also Asian, spa, Creole, Southern/soul food and, as a mom, gourmet baby food.
Interests: Yoga/meditation, waterskiing and skiing/boarding, body surfing, dancing to ABBA with my 14-month-old son, rockin’ out with my guitar that I don't play very well. Of course, cooking, eating, and drinking great wine.
Ideal secret ingredient: Lamb sweetbreads or cheeks.
Culinary inspirations: MFK Fisher, Julia Child, my grandmother Alma, my parents, and my godfather, who worked in restaurants in Lyon, France to put himself through college.
Ideal judge(s): Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, and Steven Tyler from Aerosmith.
Culinary secret weapon(s): Global Santoku knife, ouzo, and a mortar/pestle.
Favorite restaurant: French Laundry.
Favorite food: Greek or Asian.
Food you won’t go near: I have not found it yet.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: Alligator.
Favorite food destination: New York for oysters and martinis at Blue Ribbon, and Paris for lunch at Alain Ducasse.
Alternative dream job: Actress and novelist.
Read Cat Cora's Bio
Mario Batali believes that olive oil is as precious as gold, shorts are acceptable attire for every season and food, like most things, is best when left to its own simple beauty. To that end, Mario creates magic night after night in his many New York City Italian hot spots, the flagship of which is Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca, an award-winning Greenwich Village restaurant where Mario has seamlessly combined traditional Italian principles with intelligent culinary adventure since June 1998.
Raised in Seattle, Mario initially studied the golden age of Spanish theater at Rutgers University. Soon after graduating, he took his first bite of culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu in London, from which he withdrew almost immediately due to a "lack of interest." An apprenticeship with London’s legendary chef Marco Pierre White and three years of intense culinary training in the Northern Italian village of Borgo Capanne (population 200) gave him the essential skills and knowledge to return to his native U.S., anxious to plant his orange-clogged feet firmly in the Italian restaurant business.
Always eager to educate the masses about Italian cuisine, Mario hosts two Food Network programs, Molto Mario and Ciao America. He also engages in fierce culinary battles in the Food Network series Iron Chef America. Mario has authored Simple Italian Food (Clarkson Potter, 1998), Mario Batali Holiday Food (Clarkson Potter, 2000) and The Babbo Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2002). His latest book Molto Italiano-327Simple Italian Recipes (Ecco, 2005) is his most ambitious cookbook to date.
Among his many accolades, Mario was named Man of the Year in the chef category by GQ in 1999. In 2002 he won the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef: New York City award and in 2005 the James Beard Foundation awarded Mario Outstanding Chef of the Year. Mario is also one of the recipients of the 2001 D'Artagnan Cervena Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America, a prestigious lifetime achievement award.
In addition to Babbo, Mario also owns Lupa, a Roman-style trattoria in Greenwich Village, and Italian Wine Merchants, a wine shop off Union Square. Esca, a southern Italian seafood trattoria, opened near the Theater District in April 2000 and in January 2003, Mario and partner Joseph Bastianich opened another downtown eatery, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, located near historic Washington Square Park. Mario and Bastianich went on to open Bistro du Vent, which serves southern French fare around the corner from Esca. In the winter of 2005, the duo opened Del Posto, a high-end Italian spot in the trendy Meatpacking District.
Mario splits his time between New York City’s Greenwich Village and Northport, Michigan with his wife Susi Cahn of Coach Dairy Goat Farm, and their two sons, Benno and Leo.
Iron Chef America Profile:
Restaurants: Babbo, Lupa, Otto, Esca, Casa Mono, Bar Jamon, Bistro Du Vent, Del Posto
Cuisine: Italian, Spanish, and French
Interests: Family, travel, golf
Ideal secret ingredient: Seafood
Culinary inspirations: Alain Ducasse, Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck, Jeremiah Tower, Alice Waters
Ideal judge: Bart Starr or Jeremiah Tower, two of my heroes
Culinary secret weapon: Vin cotto or balsamic vinegar
Favorite restaurant: Pearl Oyster, Mesa Grill, or Gray’s Papaya
Favorite food: Anything anyone else makes
Food you won’t go near: Durian
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: Fried grasshoppers
Favorite food destination: Bologna for lasagna, Brodo for tortellini
Alternative dream job: Pool boy in Malibu
Read Mario Batali's Bio
Born in Hiroshima, Japan, Iron Chef Japanese Masaharu Morimoto trained in a sushi restaurant before moving to the U.S. in 1985 at the age of 30. After working in several restaurants, he joined the highly acclaimed Nobu restaurant in New York City.
Morimoto polished his craft in New York's melting pot and became a state-of-the-art world chef. His cutting-edge cuisine attracted the attention of Iron Chef' producers, who invited him to become a Japanese Iron Chef. His skill, which outshines the trademark diamond stud in his left ear, has been recognized all around the world. While his cooking has Japanese roots, it's actually "global cooking" for the 21st century. His unique fusion cuisine takes advantage of Japanese color combinations and aromas and uses Chinese spices and simple Italian ingredients, while maintaining a refined French style of presentation.
"Cooking is entertainment," proclaims the revolutionary. Morimoto's attitude is evident in his dishes, which retain a sense of fun and a bit of spice.
Morimoto opened his own restaurant, Morimoto, in Philadelphia in 2002 and a second one in New York City in 2006.
Iron Chef America Profile:
From: Hiroshima, Japan
Restaurant: Morimoto Restaurant in Philadelphia and New York City
Interests: East/West integration, Japanese traditions
Ideal secret ingredient: Ingredients that generate umami, the fifth taste
Ideal judge: Someone who understands global cuisine
Culinary secret weapon: Home-milled rice
Favorite restaurant: Ginzu Kyubei
Favorite food: Sushi
Food you won’t go near: None
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: Live snake
Favorite food destination: Japan, because I am Japanese
Alternative dream job: Professional baseball player
Read Masaharu Morimoto's Bio
Destiny seems to have played a role in Michael Symon's journey to the kitchen and to the top of the national food scene. As an 11th grade wrestler at St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio, Michael broke his arm while practicing for a meet. Bored, unable to compete and looking for college money, the 16-year-old took a part time job at Gepetto's Ribs as a cook. His affinity for the culinary challenge was realized and this athlete decided he loved to cook.
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1990, Michael worked at Player's, a casual Mediterranean restaurant on Cleveland's West Side, for two years. In the midst of Cleveland's developing restaurant scene, Piccolo Mondo opened and soon Michael was identified as its creative energy. It wasn't long before Symon was pairing ahi-tuna with seaweed salad. People came.
A few years later, Michael was lured to the chic and intimate Caxton Cafe in the new Gateway District. The word on the street was that he was the "cutting edge" chef in Cleveland. His signature three-cheese macaroni with chicken was born.
In 1996, Michael was ready to open his own restaurant. He partnered with future wife, Liz Shanahan, and the dream to create Lola was underway. The 60-seat space just west of downtown Cleveland opened in February 1997 to glowing reviews. To complement Michael's menu, wife and partner Liz brought an unpretentious elegance and unique wine selection from lesser-known boutique vineyards that made Lola Cleveland's destination of the year.
Quickly garnering a host of awards, Symon was named a national "rising star" for 1997 by Restaurant Hospitality magazine, Best Restaurant and Chef in Northeast Ohio by Northern Ohio Live magazine, and one of the Ten Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine magazine in 1998.
Never one to sit still, Michael took his show on the road to the Aspen Food and Wine Festival and to the Harvest for Hunger benefit in Sonoma, California in July 2000. He plans to continue to improve Lola, saying, "Every day I see ten things we could be doing better." You'll find no complaints from Clevelanders--they're just glad he's staying.
Iron Chef America Profile:
From: Cleveland, Ohio
Restaurants: Lola and Lolita in Cleveland and Parea in New York City
Cuisine: Farm driven American
Interests: Motorcycles, golf, gardening and football
Ideal secret ingredient: A whole hog
Culinary inspirations: Jonathan Waxman and farmers
Ideal judge: A bunch of chefs
Culinary secret weapon: Passion!
Favorite restaurant: Babbo, in New York City
Favorite food: My mom's
Food you won’t go near: Tofu really has no place in my kitchen
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: Duck testicles
Favorite food destination: Italy, Greece and New York City
Alternative dream job: Farmer
Read Michael Symon's Bio