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Application For The Next Food Network Star – Part 1

I spent so long writing this, I figured I’d post it. I also need to spell check it because the Acrobat writer for Mac doesn’t have that, so I’m doing double duty here. Here’s Part 1:

If employed, current occupation and job description:

Occupation . . . That’s a tough one. I create whirlwind tours of the best that major cities have to offer in terms of restaurants, bars, and local flavor. I produce, direct, and edit a 24 hour stretch of gluttony, and then do it all over again in the next city. Http://wanderingfoodie.com/24in24 is the site for the project.

Daily duties and responsibilities:

I survey local foodies on their favorite spots, contact chefs/owners/GMs to set up shoots, interview them, market the website, write press releases, handle press inquiries, produce, direct, and star in video shoots, and then edit the footage for each city. Writing it all out like that, it really is a lot of work! I don’t think I could do all of this if I didn’t love food so much.

Work schedule and hours:

I work from when I wake up in the morning to when I go to sleep at night, save a few personal errands. I know these are long hours, but keep in mind that I have 10,437 calories to burn off.

Previous occupations:

Sales, Marketing, Finance, Teacher, Server, Dishwasher, Pizza Boy (That was my title, and I don’t know what you call it, but it’s somewhere in between chef and dishwasher. I made pizza from start to finish – did it when I was in high school)

Describe your family & living situation. With whom do you live? If you have children, how old are they? Do they live with you full-time or part-time? Do you have step children?

My address is only a mailing address. After my motorcycle trip through Central America this year, I bought an RV to drive around the United States and produce 24 in 24. More people should do this kind of stuff; I am having so much fun meeting all these awesome people and eating this incredible food!

Did you graduate from culinary school? If yes, where and when? If no, do you consider yourself restaurant trained, self taught or a combination?

I didn’t graduate from culinary school, but I looked into it recently because I can’t so much as dice an onion without being laughed at by anyone with a modicum of culinary aptitude. I would say I was self-taught, but I’d be afraid of insulting my teaching abilities (which are exceptional). I like food, I appreciate food, I like to create dishes, and I am great at following recipes, but I need more exposure to food theory to get better at creating new ones from scratch. I don’t have a problem with learning from my mistakes, which is good because I make a lot of them.

If you’ve watched any or all of the previous The Next Food Network Star seasons, which contestants do you most relate to? Why?

Teddy Folkman. I sat down with him for 45 minutes for 24 in 24: DC and just shot the bull about stuff. Sports, Beer, Life in the Capitol, love for food. I can see why he made the cut; he’s a solid guy.

Please list all your food industry experience (jobs, awards, cookbooks, demos, taught cooking classes, etc):

I started out as a dishwasher at Pat’s Pizza in Yarmouth, ME when I was in high school. I made pizzas and took orders during the rushes. I waited tables at Timpano In Rockville, MD (an overpriced chain, but good people), then I got a taste of what it was like to serve at a fine dining establishment under Tony Foreman at Petit Louis Bistro in Baltimore. The man is a consummate professional and an extreme pleasure to work with.

Is there a specific genre of food you like to cook? Be very specific!

I spent six months in China, and I loved the freshess and simplicity of the food there. I like to experiment with things that I find at the Asian supermarkets near me, especially produce and bags of dried things. Most of the time it comes out as barely-edible dreck, but it’s fun to create and always interesting to eat.

What styles of cooking turn you off and why?

There’s no style of cooking that turns me off; I love all food. As long as the dish uses fresh ingredients, is properly seasoned and prepared with care, all cuisines have their merits.

How do you get your recipes (family, friends, cookbooks, etc.)? How do you put your own personal twist on recipes?

I guess you could say the only way I don’t get recipes is from cookbooks. It’s too easy to rely on friends and the internet for good recipes with plenty of reviews backing them up to make sure you’re going to get a great dish. I’m not averse to cookbooks, though. I bought my mom a Mrs. Fields Cookbook when I was ten. It’s all beat up today, and she’s made every cookie in it for me; talk about a gift that keeps on giving!
I can usually look at a recipe and tell if it’s going to need something else to spice it up, but I generally stick to adding just one more ingredient to noticeably change the plate.

Complete this sentence: If I were an ingredient, I would be:


Why would you be that ingredient?

1. Up in any economy 2. Great by itself 3. Even better with friends 4. Never disappoints when you bring it to a dinner party 5. Versatile 6. Can please any number of flavor profiles 7. Plays the lead or a supporting role just as well 8. By number eight, I’m starting to forget about the rational reasons for loving beer

What is your all time favorite ingredient and why? Any other favorites?

#1. I think I just answered this question. #2. Rice. I took the train to Shanghai from Guangzhou and must have seen five hundred different rice paddies being tended to by the rural Chinese. I can’t describe the respect they showed their crop and how it made me (the American guy on vacation) feel so far away from what life was supposed to be.

What ingredients and/or foods do you absolutely hate and why?

I used to think that I hated liver until I had foie gras, so I started trying liver again. I’ll keep trying it even though there’s been a lot of it I haven’t been so fond of recently. I’m not super psyched about the iron content, and the last piece I had was overcooked by a friend, so I felt a bit obligated to eat it all.

Clearly describe 3 of your “signature dishes” that best represent you and/or are most popular with your friends/family/clients. Tell us WHY they represent you so well.

1. Chicken Parmesan – The difference between mine and traditional chicken parm is that the breasts are not pounded thin. I took the preparation method from my grandmother on my dad’s side, my mom’s marinara sauce, and added some heat so it’s more like a fra diavolo than a traditional chicken parmesan. It’s my signature “Fourth Date Dinner.” Paired with a nice glass of red, this hearty Italian comfort food just makes you feel like curling up in bed.
2. Guacamole – It’s different depending on the season and what’s available at the store, but it’s my go-to dish when it comes to pot luck dinner parties. You can’t please everyone, though. Tomatoes and cilantro tend to be polarizing ingredients. I always order the guac at restaurants to gauge how they respect the basics.
3. Snow Peas and Shrimp over Rice – I ate out every day in China and especially loved this one place that did snow peas and roast pork. I adapted their recipe to the shrimp, and added some cayenne (you’ll find that’s something I like to do). It’s a great dish for any season; light and simple, yet impressive nonetheless.

What are your top 5 ORIGINAL cooking/food/ingredients tips that demonstrate your food knowledge? (Be specific, give us information, teach us something. This is a chance for you to show us what you know!)

1. Breakfast Ice Cream – Caramelize bacon with both light and brown sugar and chop, cut homemade waffles into 1/2 inch squares, soften some high-milkfat coffee ice cream and stir the ingredients in, refreeze, serve with maple syrup.
2. Beer Brats – The recipe on The Food Network site just says “Beer” as if there was only one type to choose from. Come on, Bobby! I find dark beer works best, and my preparation is similar, except I reduce the beer to a thicker consistency. Man food at it’s finest. Prepared well, this will bring out anyone’s inner foodie.
3. Sausage Bread – Italian bread dough rolled out and curled up with hot and sweet italian sausage, romano, mozzarella, cracked pepper, and oregano with a bit or garlic and butter. Into the oven and basted with egg yolk to get a golden crust.
4. Rapini or Chinese Broccoli – steamed with salt and a clove of garlic, tossed with peanut oil, and drizzled with oyster sauce. A quick, healthy dish that surprises people unfamiliar with Asian vegetables.
5. Caramelized Shallots and Goat Cheese on a Baguette – The shallots are butter, balsamic, brown sugar, sea salt, and cracked pepper. I brush the baguettes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil and toast them as well.

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