Apple TV+ launches foodie series ‘Omnivore’ with filmmaker Cary Joji Fukunaga and acclaimed chef René Redzepi

February 11, 2022

Cary Joji Fukunaga and René Redzepi (Photos courtesy of Apple TV+_

The following is a press release from Apple TV+:

Apple TV+ has announced a series order for “Omnivore,” a new one-hour docuseries from visionary filmmaker Cary Joji Fukunaga and globally acclaimed chef René Redzepi that will tell the story of humanity and the planet through eight defining ingredients.

Narrated by Redzepi, the force behind the revered restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, five-times recognized as the World’s Best Restaurant, and one of the leading voices in the culinary world today, “Omnivore” will look at the world through the lens of food and explores how food binds and defines us, powers politics, shapes our beliefs, explains our past, and forecasts our future.

“Omnivore” explores the beauty, complexity and interconnectivity of human culture and the natural world through the way we manipulate, celebrate and consume its best resources – the ones we eat. Each episode will take viewers on a journey around the world, exploring the ingredients that have built societies, shaped spirituality and forever altered the human story.

Developed by Redzepi, Fukunaga and James Beard and Emmy award-winning writer Matt Goulding, “Omnivore” will be showrun and executive produced by Emmy-nominated filmmaker Xan Aranda (“My Love,” “Room 104”). The docuseries is produced by Film 45, Noma Projects, Parliament of Owls and Endeavor Content, who also serves as the studio. Redzepi, Fukunaga and Goulding serve as executive producers. Chris Rice will executive produce for Endeavor Content and Michael Antinoro will executive produce and Max Wagner will co-executive produce for Film 45. Ben Liebmann will executive produce for Noma Projects.

“Omnivore” marks another collaboration for Apple TV+ and Fukunaga. The Emmy Award-winning director, writer and cinematographer currently has a first-look deal with Apple TV+ for scripted television projects and serves as director on the highly anticipated Apple Original series “Masters of the Air” from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and Tom Hanks & Gary Goetzman’s Playtone.

Since opening in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2003, Noma has been at the forefront of gastronomy and creativity. Led by founder and head chef René Redzepi, the three-Michelin starred restaurant has developed a cuisine that celebrates the region’s ingredients, culture and seasons. Redzepi is also the founder of MAD (Danish for food), a nonprofit formed with the ambition of driving change in food systems around the world. MAD’s programs include a biennial Symposium, a series of public talks in cities around the globe, and its most ambitious project yet, an Academy supporting the food and hospitality industry with tools and knowledge to become changemakers.

“Omnivore” will join a growing lineup of acclaimed and award-winning docuseries and documentaries on Apple TV+ including Emmy Award-winning “Boys State”; “The Velvet Underground,” the recently premiered and acclaimed documentary from director Todd Haynes; Critics Choice Award-winning and Emmy and Grammy Award-nominated “Beastie Boys Story”; the global smash hit documentary “Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry”; Werner Herzog’s Critics Choice Documentary Award nominee “Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds”; as well as upcoming documentary “The Supermodels”; and “Number One on the Call Sheet,” from acclaimed storytellers Jamie Foxx, Kevin Hart, Datari Turner and Dan Cogan.

Apple TV+ is home to award-winning Apple Originals from today’s most imaginative storytellers. Apple TV+ offers premium, compelling drama and comedy series, feature films, groundbreaking documentaries, and kids and family entertainment, and is available to watch across all your favorite screens. After its launch on November 1, 2019, Apple TV+ became the first all-original streaming service to launch around the world, and has premiered more original hits and received more award recognitions faster than any other streaming service. Apple Original films, documentaries and series have been honored with 202 wins and 929 awards nominations less than two years.

About Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is available on the Apple TV app in over 100 countries and regions, on over 1 billion screens, including iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, popular smart TVs from Samsung, LG, Sony, VIZIO, TCL and others, Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices, Chromecast with Google TV, PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles, and at tv.apple.com, for $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial. For a limited time, customers who purchase and activate a new iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac or iPod touch can enjoy three months of Apple TV+ for free.*

Food Network debuts ‘Raid the Fridge,’ hosted by Dan Ahdoot

November 16, 2021

Dan Ahdoot in “Raid The Fridge” (Photo courtesy of Food Network)

The following is a press release from Food Network:

Chefs must use their instincts and test their luck in choosing mystery refrigerators based only on the photos, magnets, recipes and art on their doors in the new fast-paced competition series Raid the Fridge, hosted by food writer and restaurateur Dan Ahdoot. In each episode, four competitors can use only the ingredients from their chosen mystery fridge to create top-notch dishes. But looks can be deceiving, so there is always an element of surprise – sometimes a refrigerator that appears to belong to an avid home cook is filled with takeout, while a crayon art decorated fridge seemingly owned by a family with toddlers could contain high-end gourmet items. Over the course of three rounds, each with a new cooking challenge and a whole new batch of fridges to raid, chefs must impress judges Jordan Andino and Jamika Pessoa with dishes worthy of the grand prize: a fridge full of cash. Raid the Fridge premieres December 28, 2021 at 10pm ET/PT on Food Network.

“Our audience will have so much fun playing along with Raid the Fridge, guessing what’s in each fridge, and deciding which one they would choose makes this show an interactive experience,” said Courtney White, President, Food Network and Streaming Food Content, Discovery Inc. “They may even be inspired by the creativity of these chefs to experiment with what’s in their own refrigerator.”

Dan Ahdoot, a regular on Cobra Kai, is passionate about the culture of food. He is a restaurateur, creator, comedian and host of the popular food podcast Green Eggs and Dan and recently signed a book deal with Crown Publishing for a comedic food memoir entitled Undercooked.

Fans can check out Food Network’s social pages for a sneak-peek look inside the fridges every week, and join Dan, Jamika and Jordan on set as they reveal what’s in their refrigerators at home.

Raid the Fridge is produced by Critical Content.

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FOOD NETWORK (www.foodnetwork.com) is a unique lifestyle network, website and magazine that connects viewers to the power and joy of food. The network strives to be viewers’ best friend in food and is committed to leading by teaching, inspiring, empowering and entertaining through its talent and expertise. Food Network is distributed to nearly 100 million U.S. households and draws over 46 million unique web users monthly. Since launching in 2009, Food Network Magazine’s rate base has grown 13 times and is the No. 2 best-selling monthly magazine on the newsstand, with 13.5 million readers. Food Network is owned by Discovery, Inc., a global leader in real life entertainment serving a passionate audience of superfans around the world and spanning 220 countries and territories; the portfolio also includes direct-to-consumer streaming services such as discovery+ and Food Network Kitchen, along with premium brands Discovery Channel, HGTV, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, MotorTrend, Animal Planet, Science Channel, and the multi-platform JV with Chip and Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Network as well as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Kids in Latin America, and Eurosport.

Food Network Thanksgiving 2021 specials: ‘Battle for the Bird’ with Anne Burrell and Carson Kressley and ‘A White House Thanksgiving’ with Jill Biden and Trisha Yearwood

November 12, 2021

Anne Burrell and Carson Kressley in “Battle for the Bird” (Photo courtesy of Food Network)

The following is a combination of press releases from Food Network:

Food Network is ready for food’s biggest holiday of the year! Tune in to Food Network on November 14, 2021 at 10pm ET/PT for the premiere of the one-hour primetime Thanksgiving special, Battle for the Bird. Anne Burrell and Carson Kressley bring their know-how and their humor as they co-host this timely seasonal competition in which they challenge two teams to see who can pull off the most amazing Thanksgiving get together in just four hours. The special will also be available to stream same day on discovery+.

As the two competing kitchens heat up, it is ‘game on’ as one team’s family-inspired ‘Sicilian Tailgating’ party theme goes head-to-head with a full throttle ‘New Orleans Luau’ Friendsgiving extravaganza to see who can throw the best Thanksgiving party based not only on menu and taste but décor and presentation as well. Anne and Carson are looking for the best overall Thanksgiving experience and they have their work cut out for them as they challenge, mentor, and ultimately judge this pressure-filled competition to deliver the year’s biggest food holiday and determine which is the biggest, baddest Turkey Day fest to win the Battle for the Bird

Fans can join in on the conversation on social using #BattleForTheBird.

Trisha Yearwood and Jill Biden in “A White House Thanksgiving” (Photo courtesy of Food Network)

 First Lady Jill Biden and Trisha Yearwood, country superstar and host of Food Network’s Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, are kicking off the holiday season with an exclusive look at the First Family’s Thanksgiving traditions and favorite recipes in the special A White House Thanksgiving, premiering Saturday, November 20th at 12pm ET/PT on Food Network and streaming the same day on discovery+. In addition to creating a beautiful tablescape made with fresh flowers from the White House Kitchen Garden, the First Lady and the country superstar will be preparing their favorite Turkey Day dishes, including the First Lady’s  Grandmom Jacobs’ Savory Stuffing recipe and Trisha’s Thanksgiving Turkey Gravy. They are also joined by White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford to cook the White House Thyme Roasted Turkey, White House Chief Floral Designer Hedieh Ghaffarian for the floral and table décor, and White House Executive Pastry Chef Susan Morrison to make the White House Apple Crisp recipe topped with the President’s favorite ice cream flavor, chocolate chip.

“Food is love – and gathering together this year for Thanksgiving is healing for our hearts,” said First Lady Jill Biden.  “The family recipes passed down through the generations, the fun traditions that continue, and the meaningful blessings shared, all keep me filled with gratitude. It was fun opening up the White House to Food Network and learning cooking tips from Trisha and the White House chefs and florist, while sharing my own family recipes.  I hope everyone watching comes away feeling that cooking a Thanksgiving meal is something anyone can do, but if you’re still nervous about making the gravy, like I am, you’re in good company!”

“Food brings us together. I so enjoyed my time at the White House, cooking with Dr. Jill and the White House chefs, and sharing our holiday food traditions,” said Yearwood.  “I hope this special is a reminder to all of us about what we all have in common.  Love one another.”

“Joining Dr. Biden and Trisha Yearwood at the White House to celebrate their Thanksgiving traditions is an honor,” said Courtney White, President, Food Network and Streaming Food Content, Discovery Inc. “From the First Family’s holiday decor to favorite recipes, this special offers a rarely-seen glimpse at holiday entertaining at the White House.”

Starting on November 20th, fans can browse behind-the-scenes photos with the First Lady and Trisha and check out all the holiday recipes at FoodNetwork.com/WhiteHouseThanksgiving

White House Thanksgiving is produced by Big Fish Entertainment. The taping of this special was filmed following strict COVID-19 protocols aligned with CDC guidance.

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FOOD NETWORK is a unique lifestyle network, website and magazine that connects viewers to the power and joy of food. The network strives to be viewers’ best friend in food and is committed to leading by teaching, inspiring, empowering and entertaining through its talent and expertise. Food Network is distributed to nearly 100 million U.S. households and draws over 46 million unique web users monthly. Since launching in 2009, Food Network Magazine’s rate base has grown 13 times and is the No. 2 best-selling monthly magazine on the newsstand, with 13.5 million readers. Food Network is owned by Discovery, Inc., a global leader in real life entertainment serving a passionate audience of superfans around the world and spanning 220 countries and territories; the portfolio also includes direct-to-consumer streaming services such as discovery+ and Food Network Kitchen, along with premium brands Discovery Channel, HGTV, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, MotorTrend, Animal Planet, Science Channel, and the multi-platform JV with Chip and Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Network as well as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Kids in Latin America, and Eurosport.

DISCOVERY+ is the definitive non-fiction, real life subscription streaming service. discovery+ features a landmark partnership with Verizon that gives their customers with select plans up to 12 months of discovery+ on Verizon. discovery+ has the largest-ever content offering of any new streaming service at launch, featuring a wide range of exclusive, original series across popular, passion verticals in which Discovery brands have a strong leadership position, including lifestyle and relationships; home and food; true crime; paranormal; adventure and natural history; as well as science, tech and the environment, and a slate of high-quality documentaries. For more, visit discoveryplus.com or find it on a variety of platforms and devices, including ones from Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Roku and Samsung.

OWN debuts ‘The Big Holiday Food Fight’ and ‘The Great Soul Food Cook-Off’

October 21, 2021

The following is a combination of press releases from OWN:

“The Big Holiday Food Fight” premieres Tuesday, November 16, 2021, at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT, moving to its regular 8:00 p.m. ET/PT time slot on Tuesday, November 23, 2021. It’s “knives out” (but in a good way) when “The Big Holiday Food Fight” makes its debut on OWN this November. Hosted by Kym Whitley, this exciting holiday-themed cooking competition series from SallyAnn Salsano and 495 Productions (“Peace of Mind with Taraji,” “The Real,” “Jersey Shore” “Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Party Challenge”) celebrates the holidays with traditions, family recipes and a side order of fierce competition. In each episode, we crown a new King or Queen of the holiday table and put a little jingle in their pocket with enough cash to tackle some fierce Christmas shopping.

Three home cooks will bust out their most beloved holiday family recipes and ‘jingle bell rock’ the kitchen in a multi-stage cook-off that will leave only one home chef standing at the end of each episode—and the winner of a $5,000 stocking stuffed with cash.  Appetizers, side dishes and desserts take center stage each week as our cooks are challenged to whip up their best family-favorite recipes to wow our accomplished judges Gina Neely, Darnell “SuperChef” Ferguson and James Wright Chanel. At the end of each round, our panel of judges will decide who stays for the next round and who gets booted out in the cold.

Discovery+ and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced “The Great Soul Food Cook-Off,” a first-of-its-kind soul food cooking competition series celebrating Black chefs and the Black culinary traditions that are the cornerstone of American cuisine. The six-episode, one-hour series debuts on discovery+ on Saturday, November 20, 2021, with new episodes every Saturday through December 18, 2021.

Today, we see Black culture recognized like never before in music, film, fashion, TV, sports, and more, but that same cultural recognition remains long overdue in the kitchen. OWN has partnered with discovery+ via the original series, “The Great Soul Food Cook-Off,” in a cooking competition that finally spotlights the culinary contributions of Black chefs with challenges designed to highlight the past and present of soul food. Eight chefs will go head-to-head throughout the show in this high-stakes, spiritual, and emotional competition, but only one competitor can take home the grand prize of $50,000.

“Soul food originated in the earliest African American communities and describes a style of cuisine that represents the creativity and skill of Black cooks from many cultures within the African diaspora,” said Tina Perry, president, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. “Our audience cherishes time together as a family around the table and many have passed down favorite family recipes for generations. This series is a celebration of long-standing traditions we hope to introduce and spotlight for new and existing viewers as we shine a light on a few of today’s most talented Black chefs and culinary curators.”

“The Great Soul Food Cook-Off” is hosted by acclaimed chef and television show host Kardea Brown. Brown will be joined by some of the world’s best chefs, Eric Adjepong and Melba Wilson, as they critique the chefs’ weekly creations.

Additional judges that will join Adjepong and Wilson include:

· Tanya Holland – (Episode 1)

· Alexander Smalls – (Episode 2 & 6)

· BJ Dennis – (Episode 3)

· Tiffany Derry – (Episode 4)

· Millie Peartree – (Episode 5)

· Kwame Onwuachi – (Episode 6)

“The Great Soul Food Cook-Off” contestants are:

· Chris Scott, 53 (Chef/Owner, Butterfunk Biscuit Co. – Harlem, NY)

· Dorian Hunter, 47 (Chef/Caterer, Elevated Soul – Atlanta, GA)

· Fred Fluellen, 32 (Private Chef/Caterer, Fluniversity – Atlanta, GA)

· Jamarius Banks, 28 (Private Chef – Atlanta, GA)

· Jermaine Smith, 48 (Chef/Owner, Henry’s Soul Cafe – Washington, D.C.)

· Razia Sabour, 40 (Private Chef/Caterer, Fuller Foods – Atlanta, GA)

· Shacafrica Simmons, 47 (Private Chef/Caterer, Southern Fusion – Tallahassee, FL)

· Tirzah Love, 38 (Private Chef/Caterer – Oakland, CA)

The competition premieres with a Soul Starter Challenge paying homage to the foundational “meat and three,” a meal featuring a portion of meat and three sides that are African American community must-haves. In this first challenge, “The Great Soul Food Cook-Off” chefs form teams and are challenged to a Meat N’ Three Knockout, preparing smothered pork chops, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and a potato salad. The winning team then holds an advantage going into the main Cook-Off Challenge, where the chefs create innovative dishes with staple ingredients. So who will dig the deepest and draw inspiration from their ancestors to win, and who is going home?

“The Great Soul Food Cook-Off” is produced by Good Egg Entertainment, the company behind Food Network’s hit cooking competition series “Chopped.” Michael W. Twitty, the esteemed culinary historian, educator, and James Beard Foundation award-winning author of The Cooking Gene, will serve as culinary historian and consultant for the series. OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network is overseeing production.

ABOUT KARDEA BROWN

Kardea Brown is a contemporary Southern cook born in Charleston, South Carolina. She is of Gullah/Geechee descent, a term used to describe a distinct group of African Americans living in the coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia who have managed to preserve much of their West African language, culture and cuisine. Her love for cooking started in her grandmother’s kitchen, learning to cook Gullah dishes that were passed down from her mother. Although she loved cooking as a hobby, Kardea did not envision herself pursuing a career within the culinary field. Instead, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and embarked on a career in Social Services. But in 2013, she switched gears and began to pursue cooking. She created The New Gullah Supper Club, traveling from state to state cooking traditional Gullah dishes with a contemporary twist. Kardea has since made dozens of guest television appearances on shows such as ABC’s The Chew and Food Network’s Farmhouse Rules, BBQ Blitz, The Kitchen, Chopped Jr., Beat Bobby Flay, and Cooks vs. Cons. Additionally, she has her own show on the Food Network, Delicious Miss Brown, which is currently in its 5th season.

ABOUT DISCOVERY+

discovery+ is the definitive non-fiction, real life subscription streaming service. discovery+ features a landmark partnership with Verizon that gives their customers with select plans up to 12 months of discovery+ on Verizon. discovery+ has the largest-ever content offering of any new streaming service at launch, featuring a wide range of exclusive, original series across popular, passion verticals in which Discovery brands have a strong leadership position, including lifestyle and relationships; home and food; true crime; paranormal; adventure and natural history; as well as science, tech and the environment, and a slate of high-quality documentaries. For more, visit discoveryplus.com or find it on a variety of platforms and devices, including ones from Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Roku and Samsung.

ABOUT OWN: OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network is the first and only network named for, and inspired by, a single iconic leader. Oprah Winfrey’s heart and creative instincts inform the brand and the magnetism of the channel. OWN is a leading destination for premium scripted and unscripted programming from today’s most innovative storytellers. OWN connects with its audience wherever they are, inspiring conversation among a global community of like-minded viewers on social media and beyond. Launched on January 1, 2011, OWN is a joint venture between Harpo, Inc. and Discovery, Inc. The venture also includes the award-winning digital platform Oprah.com. Access OWN anytime on Watch OWN and discovery+ across mobile devices and connected TVs.

ABOUT GOOD EGG ENTERTAINMENT

Good Egg Entertainment is a New York-based, unscripted production company that’s committed to creating innovative, energetic and positive content for all ages. Best known as the producers of Chopped, with almost 900 episodes of the series to date, the Good Egg team has proven its capabilities in making long-lasting premium television. Focused on entertaining formats with international appeal, especially food-forward content for streaming and linear platforms, recent Good Egg productions include Money Hungry with Kal Penn for Food Network/Discovery+, Dishmantled with Tituss Burgess and Eye Candy with Josh Groban for Roku Originals, and The Great Soul Food Cook-Off for OWN/Discovery+. Individually, the leaders at Good Egg have built their careers on the development and production of seminal series that include Queer Eye, Pawn Stars, the Emmy-winning Zimmern List, Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? and Legends of The Hidden Temple.

Food Network debuts ‘Chocolate Meltdown: Hershey’s After Dark,’ hosted by Sunny Anderson

August 18, 2021

Sunny Anderson (Photo courtesy of Food Network)

The following is a press release from Food Network:

Locking skilled pastry chefs inside the famed Hersheypark after dark and watching them compete to create the most mind-bending chocolate showpieces is all part of the competitive fun in the new primetime series “Chocolate Meltdown: Hershey’s After Dark.” The four-episode series, produced in partnership with Hershey’s, premieres Monday, September 27 at 10pm ET/PT and is hosted by Sunny Anderson, who challenges the brave and talented pastry artists to create the most mind-bending chocolate showpieces. It is part of Food Network’s biggest Halloween lineup yet — featuring over 36 hours of Halloween-themed programming.  

“Chocolate Meltdown: Hershey’s After Dark combines two of my all-time passions, going to amusement parks and creating art with food,” added Anderson. “I cannot wait to share these amazing chocolate displays with viewers, featuring some of the most talented pastry chefs on the planet.”

Created by Milton S. Hershey over 115 years ago, Hersheypark in Hershey, Pa., is a 121-acre amusement park featuring three parks in one with more than 70 rides, a full water park and zoo attracting families to the one-of-a-kind destination. And this September, three pastry chefs are locked inside the amusement park after-hours without a soul in sight and in each hour-long episode, they must solve clues and brave the thrilling rides to use Hershey’s sweets for their colorful and spectacular creations before the night is over. Working at breakneck speed with the help of just an assistant within Hershey’s largest candy store, Chocolate World, the competitors race against the clock as judges Ralph Attanasia (Food Network’s Buddy vs. Duff) and Maneet Chauhan (Winner, Tournament of Champions) keep a watchful eye to determine who was the most successful at molding chocolate and spinning sugar into works of art. The winner of each episode earns a year’s supply of Hershey’s candy, a Hersheypark vacation and a cash prize.

  
“This brand-new series, the first ever to film overnight inside Hersheypark and Hershey’s Chocolate World, is a viewer’s ultimate Halloween fantasy brought to life,” said Courtney White, President, Food Network and Streaming Food Content, Discovery Inc. “Our partnership with the iconic candy brand and the show’s no-holds-barred access to rides, sweets, and everything Hershey, Pa. offers, makes Chocolate Meltdown: Hershey’s After Dark an addictive new highlight to our supersized Halloween lineup.” 

In the premiere episode, the competitors prove themselves with inspired takes on a Creepy Crawly Carnival. After running through the park on a chilly and rainy night, the pastry artists take a spin on one of the park’s most dizzying rides. Back in Chocolate World, a self-taught and gravity-defying cake artist quickly runs into problems, forcing them to adjust the design on the fly. Meanwhile, a sugar artist almost loses a battle against a 33-pound slab of dark chocolate, and a sculpting enthusiast uses enough Hershey’s candy to empty the whole store. Other episodes include the pastry chefs using Reese’s Pieces and Almond Joy candies to create a Scary Sci-Fi chocolate showpiece. And the competitors have their work cut out for them as they create Frightful Forest-themed chocolate displays incorporating Twizzlers Twists and York Peppermint Patties.

For more than a century, The Hershey Company has been a candy innovator with over 90 iconic brands around the world, including Hershey’s, Reese’s, Kit Kat®, Jolly Rancher, and more, driving billions in annual revenue while also building meaningful and inclusive connections within the community. In celebration of Chocolate Meltdown: Hershey’s After Dark, Food Network has partnered with Hershey’s to give away custom branded s’mores and cups of Hershey’s Melted Hot Chocolate, as featured on the show, to consumers at Hershey’s Chocolate World timed to the series launch, along with the winners from each episode receiving a year’s supply of Hershey’s candy and a dream vacation to Hersheypark.

Fans can check out all the incredible creations and see Sunny, Maneet and Ralph compete in their own chocolate-themed challenges at FoodNetwork.com/HersheysAfterDark. Follow along with the competition on social media using #HersheysAfterDark.

“Chocolate Meltdown: Hershey’s After Dark” is produced by Beyond Productions for Food Network.

Review: ‘Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain,’ starring Anthony Bourdain

July 16, 2021

by Carla Hay

Anthony Bourdain in “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain” (Photo courtesy of CNN/Focus Features)

“Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain”

Directed by Morgan Neville

Culture Representation: Taking place in various places around the world, the biographical documentary “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain” features a predominantly white group of people (with some Asians) discussing the life and career of celebrated food expert/TV host/writer Anthony Bourdain, an American of French-Jewish heritage who lived on America’s East Coast for his entire life.

Culture Clash: Bourdain, who committed suicide in 2018 at the age of 61, struggled with many personal demons in his life, including being a recovering alcoholic/drug addict and his battles with depression.

Culture Audience: Besides the obvious target audience of Anthony Bourdain fans, “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in stories about famous world travelers and stories about celebrities who struggle with mental health issues.

Anthony Bourdain in “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain” (Photo courtesy of CNN/Focus Features)

What does it take for someone to be truly happy? The answer depends on the individual person. Not everyone can find true happiness, even when people have all the outward appearances of success. Award-winning TV host/food expert/writer Anthony Bourdain had fame, fortune, physical health and many people in his personal life who loved him. But in private, he struggled with finding long-term true happiness and inner peace within himself, according to the people who knew him best.

It’s one of the main takeaways of the riveting and emotionally poignant documentary “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain,” which focuses on how Bourdain dealt with becoming a celebrity in his middle age. Even with all of his achievements, admiration from fans around the world, and having a great support system of loved ones, Bourdain found that all of it wasn’t enough to make him truly happy and content. All the people interviewed for this movie are either Bourdain’s family members, close friends or work colleagues, who all call him Tony.

Directed by Oscar-winning documentarian Morgan Neville, “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain” is respectful but does not sugarcoat the emotional damage left behind by Bourdain’s suicide by hanging. At the age of 61, a little more than two weeks before his 62nd birthday, Bourdain killed himself on June 8, 2018, in his hotel room in Kaysersberg-Vignoble, France. Several people in the documentary share their thoughts on what they think went wrong.

But make no mistake: “Roadrunner” is mostly a celebration of Bourdain’s life, which was unpredictable, wild and filled with extreme ups and downs. The documentary (which includes a lot previously unreleased archival footage) isn’t fully biographical, because there’s not much discussion of Bourdain’s youth. Bourdain was born in New York City, on June 25, 1956, to French American father Pierre Bourdain and Jewish mother Gladys Bourdain. Anthony and his younger brother Chris Bourdain (who’s interviewed in the documentary) went to school in New Jersey. By all accounts, they had a happy childhood and loving parents.

Chris remembers, “We didn’t do a lot of traveling when we were kids because my parents were not rich.” According to Chris, the Bourdain family visited France a few times in his and Anthony’s childhood, because their father had relatives there. It was in France that Anthony first began to appreciate the art of making cuisine. Chris also says that he and Anthony were big fans of Belgian cartoonist Hergé’s “Tin Tin” graphic novels, about a globetrotting young journalist named Tin Tin who solved mysteries.

It’s also mentioned in the documentary that Anthony had a fascination since childhood with novels and movies about adventures and risky experiences in foreign countries. Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella “Heart of Darkness” and director Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam War film “Apocalypse Now” were particularly impactful on Anthony. The influence of these “danger in the jungle” stories can be seen in a lot of episodes of Anthony’s TV shows.

After high school, Anthony attended Vassar College for two years before dropping out to pursue a career as a chef. He paid his dues working as a cook in Massachusetts restaurants. Known for his acerbic wit and rebellious streak, Anthony also developed an addiction to drugs (especially cocaine and heroin), which he publicly revealed years ago when his 2000 memoir “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” was published. In several interviews in his life, Anthony said that he quit hard drugs in 1988, without ever going to rehab.

The Bourdain biography in the “Roadrunner” documentary really begins in the early 2000s, when Anthony found fame in his 40s as the best-selling author of “Kitchen Confidential.” The book detailed a lot of “dirty laundry” about what goes on behind the scenes at top restaurants, as well as Anthony’s own personal misdeeds. At the time that “Kitchen Confidential” was published, Anthony was the executive chef at Brassierie Les Halles, a French eatery in New York City’s Manhattan borough. (The restaurant went out of business in 2017.)

The “Roadrunner” documentary includes an interview with former Brassierie Les Halles owner Philippe LaJaunie, who says about the “Kitchen Confidential” book: “I didn’t know it was being written. I didn’t know it was being published.” LaJaunie also comments on what Anthony was like when he was a Brassierie Les Halles employee: “He was always behind on the rent … and living paycheck to paycheck. So, when there was this opportunity [to become rich and famous], he was ready.”

Anthony eventually quit the restaurant business to become a full-time TV host/world traveler. And just like how quickly he became a book author, Anthony didn’t spend years pursuing TV fame, because other people approached him first with this opportunity, shortly after the best-selling success of “Kitchen Confidential.” It’s mentioned in the documentary that although Bourdain was a celebrity chef, he didn’t like to cook at home until he became a father and reveled in doing stereotypical “dad” things, such as cooking for backyard barbecues.

During the rise of the #MeToo movement, Anthony expressed remorse over being a part of a restaurant culture that enabled abuse. “Kitchen Confidential” was the inspiration for the short-lived 2005 “Kitchen Confidential” comedy series, which starred Bradley Cooper and was televised in the U.S. on Fox. The “Roadrunner” documentary has a very brief clip of from this failed sitcom.

According to several people interviewed in the documentary, although Anthony had a public persona of being brash and outspoken, he was actually a very shy and romantic person in private. He also never felt completely comfortable with his celebrity status, since he didn’t plan to become a world-famous writer and TV personality. In fact, getting his first book published was an opportunity that came to him very easily because his writer friend Joel Rose happened to be married to someone who worked for Bloomsbury Publishing, which ended up publishing “Kitchen Confidential.”

As Rose tells it in the documentary, the idea for Anthony to write a book came to Rose when he showed one of Anthony’s storytelling emails to his wife Karen Rinaldi. In the “Roadrunner” documentary, Rinaldi remembers her reaction to that email: “I read it, and I was like, ‘That is fucking awesome!’ I’m going to make him an offer he basically can’t fucking refuse!” And just like that, Anthony got a book deal, without ever experiencing years of rejections from book publishers, which is what most first-time book authors experience.

One of the things that’s very noticeable about the people interviewed in “Roadrunner” is that almost all of them were in Anthony’s life for decades, which is a testament to their mutual loyalty. Throughout the documentary, an interesting editing technique is used for these longtime friends and colleagues, by showing archival footage of the interviewee (going as far back as the late 1990s or 2000s) and then fading to new interview footage that the person did for the documentary.

“Kitchen Confidential” made Anthony famous, but becoming a TV host of an international food show made him a bona fide rock star of the culinary world. He hosted several TV shows in his career, beginning with “A Cook’s Tour,” which was on the Food Network from 2002 to 2003. That was followed by two series on the Travel Channel: “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” (from 2005 to 2012) and “The Layover” (from 2011 to 2013). His last TV series was CNN’s “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” which was on the air from 2013 to 2018.

Zero Point Zero production company co-founders/spouses Lydia Tenaglia and Chris Collins, who were Anthony’s creative partners for his entire TV career, talk about coming up with the idea for Anthony to star in his own TV show. Anthony, Tenaglia and Collins traveled to several countries for six weeks, beginning in December 2000, to film test footage for a possible TV pilot episode. The “Roadrunner” documentary includes some that footage.

At this point in his life, Anthony was far from being a world traveler. He had only been outside the U.S. a handful of times. As Collins describes this six-week journey: “Lydia and I had just gotten married. And then we had Tony, a guy who we barely knew. It was like three idiots trying to figure each other out.”

Tenaglia says that even though Anthony had no experience hosting a TV show at the time, he was up for the challenge. Traveling to various countries over a six-week period tapped into his adventurous side. Tenaglia remembers, “I think he was excited to go on this journey to see if reality matched the imagination.”

However, things didn’t go smoothly. It might surprise some people to know that Anthony’s gift for gab didn’t come easily to him on camera during the filming of that test footage. Collins explains, “Tony was naturally a very shy human being. And to get him to make contact or interact [with strangers] wasn’t his natural state.”

The first country they went to was Japan. Tenaglia says that Japan has a formality to its culture that made it difficult for Anthony to relax when interacting with people on camera. Tenaglia and Collins remember thinking that Anthony was so quiet and reserved in the Japan footage that they began to wonder if it was a huge mistake to think he would make a great TV host.

But when they arrived in the less-formal Vietnam, Anthony began to loosen up on camera and found his groove, according to Collins and Tenaglia. Anthony’s fascination with “Apocalypse Now” certainly helped. His TV shows were not about presenting food in a slick and shiny TV studio. He liked to get down and dirty with the locals.

In terms of food TV hosts, he was groundbreaking. His mass appeal had a lot to do with the fact that he wasn’t a food snob: He was equally comfortable at small, greasy eateries as he was at the most lavish and highest-rated restaurants. He was very open about his love for cheap fast food as well as exotic and gourmet cuisine. He was endlessly curious in talking to local people about their customs and cultures. His conversations and commentaries were often more interesting than the food that was on the show.

And he was fearless in eating almost anything. One of the more notorious things that Anthony ate on camera was a cobra heart that was still beating. The documentary includes that footage, as well as some footage of Anthony and other people killing animals to eat. This is not news to anyone who’s familiar with his TV shows. However, vegans, vegetarians and other people who don’t like to see animals killed for food might want to avoid this documentary or cover their eyes during these scenes in the movie.

Celebrity chef David Chang, who was one of Anthony’s closest friends, says in the documentary that he was fascinated by Anthony’s far-reaching fame. Chang states that no matter where they went in public, there was a “non-stop barrage” of attention on Anthony, from people who treated Anthony like a star. Chang remembers asking Anthony how he handled this lack of privacy with such composure. Chang says that Anthony’s response was: “Being nice to someone and being gracious to them, if that’s my job, it certainly beats being a middling line cook at a struggling restaurant.”

This “man of the people” image didn’t necessarily make him the most easygoing and most pleasant co-worker behind the scenes. Although former co-workers praise him in the documentary for being generous, witty and loyal, they also say that he could be rude, stubborn and egotistical. There’s archival footage of Tenaglia on the six-week “test footage” trip where she privately calls Anthony a “pain in the ass” over his “lack of communication.”

He demanded excellence from himself and from people around him because he hated mediocrity. As his longtime agent Kim Witherspoon says, “I don’t think Tony was afraid of failure. And that was hardwired [in his personality].” He took risks in his career, but he was never the type of celebrity who precisely plotted to have worldwide fame. People in the documentary say that his attitude toward taking new opportunities was, “Why not? If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.”

In the “Roadrunner” documentary, celebrity chef/restaurateur Eric Ripert fondly remembers the first time he met Anthony, who was a great admirer of Ripert even before meeting him. Instead of it being a private meeting, Ripert says with a laugh, “He showed up with a TV crew.” Ripert says of Anthony’s on-screen persona: “The challenge was to be real and at the same time be the host of a TV show.”

Tragically, Ripert was the one who found Anthony’s dead body in the hotel room. In the documentary, Ripert says he won’t publicly talk about that day or his thoughts on the suicide. And it’s very understandable that he won’t. People have different ways of trying to heal from that kind of trauma. In the documentary, Ripert talks about the good times that he had with his longtime pal. There’s some endearing footage of them together that’s in the movie.

Other friends who are interviewed in the documentary include musician Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age fame), artist Dave Choe, musician Alison Mosshart, artist John Lurie and Big Gay Ice Cream co-founder Doug Quint. Anthony’s former TV colleagues who share their thoughts include producer Helen Cho, cinematographer Todd Liebler and directors Tom Vitale, Mo Fallon and Michael Steed. Vitale hints at all the hell-raising that went on behind the scenes when he comments, “What made it into the show was—as far as I was concerned—the least-interesting parts of the trip.”

Anyone who’s seen Anthony’s TV shows already knows that traveling to all these different countries to eat the local cuisine did not exist in a glamorous bubble for him. He was deeply affected by tragedies going on in many of these countries. When the TV crew was in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake, they saw how a simple act of giving the starving locals some leftover food from the TV shoot turned into a feeding frenzy with some people pushing each other out of the way to get in line for the food. The documentary includes footage from that incident.

The documentary also includes footage from 2006 of Anthony and several of the crew members having the surreal experience of lounging out by a hotel pool in Beirut as war aircraft swarmed in the sky. Everyone was temporarily stuck in the hotel because it was too dangerous to leave at the time. In the footage, Anthony quips, “Basically, we got caught in a war.” Liebler adds, “We were spending all our time at the pool, watching helicopters come in and out. It was just a waiting game for us.”

In the documentary, Collins says that Anthony (who was an executive producer of his TV shows) was vehemently against doing an “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” episode of their experiences in Beirut, out of respect for the people whose lives were destroyed by the war violence happening while the TV crew was there. However, as Collins says, “The network felt differently,” and the episode was televised. Anthony had clout as an executive producer, but his clout on his TV show only went so far, since the TV network owned the show.

As for Anthony’s personal life, he was married twice. His marriage to first wife Nancy Putkoski (his high school sweetheart) lasted from 1985 to 2005 and ended in divorce. He was married to second wife Ottavia Busia-Bourdain (a mixed-martial artist) in 2007, and they separated in 2016. Anthony and Ottavia’s daughter Ariane was born in 2007.

Putkoski is not interviewed in the documentary, but she’s briefly shown in some of the archival footage. Anthony’s brother Chris comments on why the marriage fell apart: “Nancy had no interest in fame or being tied to fame, but it was a new birth for Tony. It was like he died and was reborn.”

The documentary includes personal footage of Anthony at a strip club somewhere in Asia. The footage was filmed during his divorce from Putkoski. He looks at the camera and sarcastically quips in true Anthony Bourdain style: “Nancy, I hope your divorce lawyer is paying attention to any of this footage.”

Busia-Bourdain (an Italian native who met Anthony because she used to work for his close friend Ripert) is interviewed in the documentary. She describes their early courtship as a “friends with benefits” situation that eventually turned into love. “We were the perfect match for the occasional rendezvous. I was expecting this bad boy, a little bit arrogant. Nowhere was I expecting endearing.” After getting involved with Busa-Bourdain, Anthony became a martial arts enthusiast and went through extensive training.

Several people (including Anthony in archival footage) say that for years he did not want to have children because he didn’t think he would be a good father. But when Ariane was born, it changed him and his life for the better. Busia-Bourdain comments about Anthony becoming a father later in his life: “Any doubts I had kind of dissipated when I realized how happy and excited he was that he was going to become a father.”

There are several clips of home video footage of Anthony with Ariane over the years. (His close friend Ripert calls him a very attentive father.) There’s also a more recent clip of Ariane spending time with her mother after his death. The camera is at a certain angle so that her face is not on camera, out of respect for her privacy. Not surprisingly, Ariane is not interviewed for this documentary.

Friends of Anthony say that becoming a father gave him a sense of “normalcy” that he craved and needed to have a balance for his celebrity jetset lifestyle. Homme says that he and Anthony talked a lot of about what it was like to be fathers who had to frequently be away from home because of their work. Homme gets a little emotionally choked up when he remembers that he and Anthony made plans to take a father-daughter trip together someday when their daughters got older.

In the documentary, no one really talks about why Anthony’s second marriage failed. However, people have plenty to say about Anthony falling madly in love with Italian actress/filmmaker Asia Argento, who was his lover for the last year of his life. She and Anthony met in 2017, when he filmed an episode of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” in Rome, and they got together not long after meeting.

Argento is not interviewed in the documentary, but there’s a general sense from what people say about the relationship that it was passionate in ways that were good and bad. The highs were really high and the lows were really low. Mosshart says she knew early on in Anthony’s relationship with Argento that the relationship was “going to end very, very badly.”

Just like Anthony became obsessed with martial arts because of his second wife, he became obsessed with being an ally in the #MeToo movement because of Argento’s involvement as a #MeToo activist. Argento is one of numerous women who have publicly accused disgraced entertainment mogul (and convicted rapist) Harvey Weinstein of rape and other forms of sexual assault. She says the first time that Weinstein raped her was in 1997. There’s archival footage of her in the documentary speaking out against Weinstein, and also privately telling Anthony that she has a hard time being a happy person.

Busia-Bourdain and other people in the documentary say that Anthony getting involved in #MeToo activism was a big change for him, because he previously avoided being publicly outspoken over social justice issues. He abruptly cut off people in his life whom he thought were guilty of sexual misconduct in the past. He gave interviews and posted messages on social media to express his outrage over #MeToo injustices.

Argento had considerable influence over other aspects of his life. She began directing episodes of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.” And that didn’t sit too well with several of Anthony’s longtime colleagues. Many of them stop short of saying that Argento was a destructive force in Anthony’s life, but the implication is there, judging by the way that they talk about her.

Zach Zamboni, a cinematographer for “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” from 2013 to 2017, experienced some of the fallout. Anthony reportedly fired Zamboni because Zamboni disagreed with Argento over aspects of the show. (Zamboni is not interviewed in the documentary.) Former “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” producer Cho says in the documentary that when Zamboni got fired, that’s when she knew that anyone in Anthony’s longtime loyal inner circle could be abruptly cut off in a callous way that she’d never seen before with Anthony.

Cho doesn’t even try to hide her disgust about Argento when she describes how she thinks Argento had a negative influence on the show and on Anthony’s life. Cho says that Argento’s overly stagy directing style was the polar opposite of the documentary directing style Anthony wanted for his shows. Instead of letting filmed conversations flow naturally, which was the way that it had always been done, Argento’s direction changed the show so that when people were talking to Anthony on camera, they would be told to do multiple takes of dialogue, as if they were actors following a script. The documentary includes outtake footage from the show as an example.

After Anthony got involved with Argento, many people in his inner circle became alarmed at how he drastically changed. According to his artist friend Lurie, Anthony began to become agoraphobic and more paranoid about his celebrity status. Quint offers this insight: “People think he had the greatest job in the world, but it was one there was no way to ever escape from. You couldn’t ever really go home for a day and not be Anthony Bourdain [the celebrity].”

Collins says that in the last year of Anthony’s life, Anthony wanted to do something he never had wanted to do before: quit TV entirely. Collins states that when Anthony told him he wanted to quit TV so that he could move to Italy and be with Argento, he gave his friend unwavering support to do what he needed to do to be happy. But in the end, Anthony changed his mind and didn’t go through with this idea to quit TV and move to Italy.

Shortly before he committed suicide, the celebrity gossip media published photos of Argento on an obvious romantic date with another man. Vitale said he saw firsthand how distraught Anthony was over these “affair” photos, because Anthony expressed anger that Argento couldn’t be more discreet. The documentary doesn’t mention that after Anthony died, Argento gave interviews saying that she and Anthony had mutually agreed to have an open/non-monagamous relationship. No one in the documentary blames Argento for Anthony’s death, but it’s clear that many people close to him did not think that Argento’s relationship with him was healthy.

However, several people in the documentary make it clear that Anthony had personal demons long before he met Argento. He would frequently talk in a joking manner about having thoughts of physically hurting himself and other people. (And he says that in one of the documentary’s archival clips.) And, by his own admission, he had an addictive personality that caused him to get obsessive over things that he thought would bring him some kind of happiness.

“Roadrunner” actually begins with archival footage of Anthony talking about death. It’s very much like addressing the elephant in the room right away, since most people watching this documentary already know how he died. He says in a voiceover: “It’s considered useful, enlightening and therapeutic to think about death for a few minutes a day.”

And then, he’s shown talking to longtime friend Ripert and saying, “What actually happens to my remains is of zero interest to me. I don’t want anyone seeing my body. I don’t want a [funeral] party … unless it can provide entertainment value in a perversive, subversive way. If you can throw me into a wood chipper and spray me into Harrods in the middle of rush hour, that would be epic. I wouldn’t mind being remembered in that way.”

As much as Anthony would joke about his own death, the documentary makes a point of showing that for all of the therapy or caring support from loved ones that he had, he felt that he couldn’t or wouldn’t talk to anyone about his suicidal thoughts on the day that he took his life. The documentary mentions that he was in professional therapy toward the end of his life, but he wasn’t entirely comfortable with therapy. It’s not too surprising, considering that he said he kicked his addictions to cocaine and heroin without going to rehab.

The documentary also lays bare the emotional trauma experienced by the people left behind. Several of the interviewees (including Busia-Bourdain, Chang, Choe and Witherspoon) break down and cry on camera when they talk about Anthony, All the stages of grief except denial are seen in this film.

Chang cries when he describes one of his most painful memories of being Anthony’s friend: “He said I would never be a good dad. That really hurt.” Mosshart comments on the suicide: “I don’t think he was cruel, but there’s a cruelty to that.” Others express guilt over not seeing any signs of suicidal distress or wishing they could’ve done more to help Anthony.

Some of the people say that the suicide affected them in ways that they didn’t expect. LaJaunie was one of the people who was in Vietnam during Anthony’s six-week journey in the early 2000s to test his TV hosting skills. LaJaunie was in Vietnam when he heard the news about the suicide, and he decided to permanently live in Vietnam on that day.

Homme said after the suicide, he didn’t work for two years. Choe didn’t cut his hair for two years after hearing about the suicide. Choe finally shaved off some of his hair on camera for the documentary, almost as if talking about his dear, departed friend was therapeutic and helped him feel comfortable to get his hair cut.

It’s evident that “Roadrunner” director Neville has compassion for the loved ones who were left behind. The documentary might also help people understand that suicides often have no logical explanation. There were no drugs or alcohol in Anthony’s system at the time of his death. And even though he was someone who wrote about his feelings for a living, he didn’t leave a suicide note.

Some of the people close to him say in the documentary that there were no big warning signs that he would do something as extreme as killing himself. Any plans that he might have had to commit suicide were kept well-hidden by Anthony. Toward the end of the documentary, there’s some haunting footage of Anthony filming something for “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” where he’s surrounded by people, but the sad expression on his face as he stares at the camera shows that he looks like one of the loneliest people in the world. It’s a somber reminder that people who look like they “have it all” can sometimes feel empty inside and mistakenly think that their lives aren’t worth living.

Focus Features released “Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain” in U.S. cinemas on July 16, 2021.

Netflix premieres ‘High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America’

May 21, 2021

“High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America” Episode 1, “Our Roots” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

The following is a description from Netflix:

“High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America”

Series premiere: May 26, 2021

Black food is American food. Chef and writer Stephen Satterfield traces the delicious, moving throughlines from Africa to Texas in this docuseries.

Food Network debuts ‘Chef Boot Camp,’ starring Cliff Crooks

March 5, 2021

Cliff Crooks of “Chef Boot Camp” (Photo courtesy of Food Network)

The following is a press release from Food Network:

Food Network’s newest series, Chef Boot Camp, takes a deep dive into one of the most critical and essential elements of restaurants everywhere – the chefs running the kitchen. The success of a restaurant starts and ends with the food they serve and trouble in the kitchen can jeopardize everything. Enter Cliff Crooks, Culinary Director of a global restaurant brand whose job entails making sure the entire enterprise runs smoothly, including hiring and firing the chefs for each kitchen. Now Cliff is taking his decades of expertise and embarking on a new mission to help struggling chefs from restaurants across the country prove that they deserve to keep running their kitchens. Nominated by their respective restaurant owners, each episode Cliff will put a trio of underperforming chefs through a grueling series of challenges to test their real-world culinary skills and fitness for the role. With their jobs on the line, these chefs will attempt to not only survive but thrive in Chef Boot Camp and prove to their owners they have the talent and passion it takes to succeed. Chef Boot Camp premieres Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 10pm ET/PT on Food Network. “Cliff Crooks knows what it takes for a restaurant to be successful and in Chef Boot Camp, he brings his tremendous experience and a commitment to excellence to struggling restaurateurs and their kitchen staffs,” said Courtney White, Food Network President.

“Cliff’s investment in these chefs is evident every step of the way as he gives everything he can to help them improve and succeed.”

 In each episode, three struggling chefs embark on a three-day boot camp with Cliff who will assess their skills in the kitchen and address their areas for improvement. After an introduction to each chef that reveals what brought them to boot camp, he gets a firsthand look and taste of one of their signature dishes to begin to understand what the issues may be. Next, the chefs must demonstrate fundamental cooking techniques of a classic dish which they must create on time and to Cliff’s satisfaction, showing their skills, knowledge, and ability in the kitchen. Then, the chefs must bring it altogether – working a fast-paced, live dinner service at one of Cliff’s restaurants, and then, finally, whipping up a creative, new dish for their restaurant owners to demonstrate their growth and progress from boot camp. Some will rise to the challenge while others will not, with the fate of their career in the hands of chef Cliff. Chef Cliff Crooks has been cooking in prominent kitchens throughout New York City for more than 20 years. Prior to joining BLT Restaurant Group in 2010 as Executive Chef of BLT Steak New York, he held positions at Salute!, Blue Water Grill and Gramercy Tavern.

Chef Cliff has appeared as a contestant on Top Chef and a judge on Hell’s Kitchen and Chopped Junior, and will also be seen on Food Network’s Tournament of Champions. After more than two years of leading the kitchen at BLT Steak New York, the hospitality group’s flagship restaurant, Crooks was named Culinary Director of BLT Restaurant Group and has since played an integral role in inspiring culinary growth among his staff while demonstrating a strong commitment to the brand’s ethos of exceeding expectations through outstanding food and hospitality. 

Fans can get to know Cliff and learn some of his best cooking tips at FoodNetwork.com/ChefBootCamp. Follow along with the competition on social media using #ChefBootCamp and tell us about your biggest cooking mistakes. Chef Boot Camp is produced by Left/Right Productions for Food Network.

·       Premiering Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 10pm– “Have a Little Faith”

Chef Cliff Crooks works with three chefs in need of professional help, starting at Tara Inn in Port Jefferson, N.Y. Head chef Andrew’s poor performance could mean the end of a local favorite restaurant since 1977. In New Haven, Conn., the chef refuses to change the menu at his best friend’s restaurant, putting his relationship and his job at risk. Finally, Chef Cliff meets Shakilah, who took over for her mom as head chef at Carolyn’s Southern Comfort Cuisine in East Meadow, N.Y., but overspicing the food and her lack of drive could mean the end of her mother’s dream.

·       Premiering Thursday, April 15, 2021 at 10pm– “Sloppy, Snarky and Silent”

Chef Cliff Crooks works with three chefs with very different issues. Aiden has been the head chef of Blue Mermaid Island Grill in Kittery, Maine, for years, but he’s timid, and the restaurant’s owner questions whether he can lead a kitchen. Pat was recently promoted to head chef of Beefeater’s Tavern in Horseheads, N.Y., but his sloppy appearance and subpar culinary skills threaten his success. Finally, Shy has spent 16 years running the kitchen at McGeary’s Pub in Albany, N.Y., but she has an attitude problem that could mean the end of her run.

·       Premiering Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 10pm– “Three Dreams”

Chef Cliff Crooks connects with three chefs in need of help, starting with Carlos in New London, Conn. He came to the U.S. from Ecuador and achieved the American dream while working in kitchens, but as the head chef at Hot Rods Cafe, he must learn some tricks beyond cooking wings and burgers to help his best friend and the restaurant’s owner bring in new customers to pay for a costly renovation. In Essex Junction, Vt., cooking saved the life of former addict Cody, but he needs help getting past his self-doubt to successfully run the kitchen at El Gato Cantina. Finally, Chef Cliff meets Kelly, a self-taught chef who transformed her health-food meal prep business into Fit Foodie Express in Long Beach, N.Y. She and her husband put their savings into the business, but her lack of cooking and restaurant experience could mean the end of not only their business but also their marriage.

·       Premiering Thursday, April 29, 2021 at 10pm– “I Will Be Great… Tomorrow”

Chef Cliff Crooks draws on his expertise to help three chefs in need, beginning with Chris at The Striker in Portsmouth, N.H. Chris was hired for his creativity, but he’s lost his passion and his food is uninspired. In Albany, N.Y., Kizzy is chef and co-owner of Allie B’s Cozy Kitchen, which features her mom’s soul food recipes, but she needs to branch out to reinvigorate business. Finally, Chef Cliff meets Nicky, who has been the chef at Bella Napoli in Bloomfield, N.J., for more than 40 years — and it shows in his terrible plating and the owners’ desire for new dishes to bring in more customers.

Online, fans can get to know Cliff and learn some of his best cooking tips. Follow along with the competition on social media using #ChefBootCamp and tell us about your biggest cooking mistakes. 

Discovery+ announces cooking TV series ‘Mary McCartney Serves It Up’

January 4, 2021

Mary McCartney

The following is a press release from Discovery+

British photographer and cookbook author Mary McCartney invites audiences into her London kitchen on Thursday, February 4, 2021, on Discovery+ as she prepares delicious, accessible, and picture perfect meals with her celebrity friends on the new discovery+ series “Mary McCartney Serves It Up.” In each of the six half-hour episodes, Mary shares her sincere love of cooking and her family’s favorite recipes and the stories behind them, showcasing her accessible vegetarian food philosophy for all to enjoy. In each episode, Mary will be joined by her famous friends, at home and over video conference, to celebrate food and friendship with transatlantic cook-alongs, taste-tests, cocktail classes and fun food Q&As. From easy dinners to comforting eats, moreish modern meals, and scrumptious desserts, Mary serves up incredible eats proving every day and special occasions can be vege-licious.

“I’m honored to be launching my new show on Discovery’s amazing new streaming service. With the help of a few friends, I want to show that meat free eating can be varied, delicious and accessible to everyone,” said Mary McCartney. “The recipes are simple, easy and rewarding. I can’t wait for you to be able to join me and my super talented guests for food and fun.”

It’s good food and great company on every episode, from Maple Vodka Grilled Peaches with Kate Hudson, Meatless Marinara Sub Sandwiches with Mark Ronson, and Deluxe Hash Brown Skillet piled high with spicy beans and delicious fixings for brunch with Cameron Diaz and Nicole Richie. But no brunch is complete without a cocktail, so the ladies show Mary their special take on a spritzer. Plus, Liv Tyler is Mary’s official nachos taste tester, and Dave Grohl teaches Mary the secret to his legendary lasagna, while she makes Smokey Dogs and a chef’s salad with homemade dressing to round out the meal. Mary also arranges a food delivery for a virtual party with Gayle King, who famously doesn’t cook, filled with Sticky Crispy Cauliflower Bites, Pea & Mint Dip, and Roasted Tomato & Butterbean Toasts. Together they mix up a delicious mocktail, to toast to their friendship and to sharing a delicious meal.

“Mary McCartney serves up a passion for cooking, a unique culinary perspective showcased with every mouthwatering meal, and a love for connecting with friends over good food which is at the core of every episode,” said Courtney White, President, Food Network.

Mary McCartney is a British photographer, filmmaker and cookbook author and advocate of vegetarianism as part of sustainable plant-based living. Her cookbooks include “Food: Vegetarian Home Cooking,” in which she offers easy, family-friendly meat-free dishes that will appeal to everyone, as well as “At My Table: Vegetarian Feasts for Family and Friends,” offering more than 75 recipes, with recollections of specific celebrations, gatherings, and family highlights through the years. She is also a co-founder of Meat Free Monday, a not-for-profit organization that campaigns for sustainable, meat-free living.

“Mary McCartney brings her passion for food to Discovery+ at the perfect time to offer our global audience ideas for cooking delicious meals for their families,” said Lisa Holme, Group SVP Content and Commercial Strategy Discovery+.

Follow #MaryMcCartneyServesItUp for even more of Mary’s tried-and-true recipes that are perfect for special occasions and everyday dinners alike, as well as behind-the-scenes videos of Mary and her celebrity guests. Fans can visit www.discoveryplus.com, and follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more.

Discovery+ is the definitive non-fiction, real life subscription streaming service. The new service will launch with a landmark partnership with Verizon that gives their customers with select plans 12 months of Discovery+ on Verizon. At launch in the U.S., Discovery+ will have the largest-ever content offering of any new streaming service, featuring a wide range of exclusive, original series across popular, passion verticals in which Discovery brands have a leadership position, including lifestyle and relationships; home and food; true crime; paranormal; adventure and natural history; as well as science, tech and the environment, and a slate of high-quality documentaries. Discovery+ will offer more than 55,000 episodes all in one place, with over 2,500 current and classic shows from Discovery’s iconic portfolio of networks, including HGTV, Food Network, TLC, ID, OWN, Travel Channel, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. For more about Discovery+, click here.

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About Discovery:

Discovery, Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK) is a global leader in real life entertainment, serving a passionate audience of superfans around the world with content that inspires, informs and entertains. Discovery delivers over 8,000 hours of original programming each year and has category leadership across deeply loved content genres around the world. Available in 220 countries and territories and nearly 50 languages, Discovery is a platform innovator, reaching viewers on all screens, including TV Everywhere products such as the GO portfolio of apps; direct-to-consumer streaming services such as discovery+, Food Network Kitchen and MotorTrend OnDemand; digital-first and social content from Group Nine Media; a landmark natural history and factual content partnership with the BBC; and a strategic alliance with PGA TOUR to create the international home of golf. Discovery’s portfolio of premium brands includes Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, MotorTrend, Animal Planet, Science Channel, and the forthcoming multi-platform JV with Chip and Joanna Gaines, Magnolia Network, as well as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network in the U.S., Discovery Kids in Latin America, and Eurosport, the leading provider of locally relevant, premium sports and Home of the Olympic Games across Europe. For more information, please visit corporate.discovery.com and follow @DiscoveryIncTV across social platforms.

Food Network announces ‘Buddy vs. Christmas’

October 27, 2020

Buddy Valastro in “Buddy vs Christmas” (Photo courtesy of Food Network)

The following is a press release from Food Network:

Buddy Valastro embarks on an extraordinary new Christmas-themed competition on Food Network as he goes head-to-head with the greatest non-cake artists on Buddy vs. Christmas, premiering on Sunday, November 22 at 10pm ET/PT. It’s bakers vs. makers as their skills are tested in each of the four episodes, as Buddy and his team of bakers goes up against an award-winning scenic designer, a glassblower, an animatronics expert, and a Lego builder. With only 24 hours to capture the spirit of the holidays with their creations, the one that rises to the top with their elaborate design will be crowned winner. From life-size gingerbread houses and snow globes, to incredible toys including drivable sleigh cakes and action figures, and to Santa’s workshop complete with talking reindeer, each creation brings holiday enchantment to life!

“As the Cake Boss, Buddy has mastered the creation of gigantic, life-sized, and incredibly realistic cakes. Now, viewers will be captivated as he takes on his most difficult challenge yet by competing against master builders and expert crafters – it’s cake creations vs. real build designs on Buddy vs. Christmas,” said Courtney White, President, Food Network. “Audiences will be stunned by the remarkable Christmas designs in each episode, with all their spectacular details and special effects, making each one more impressive than the last.”

The cake designs on Buddy Vs. Christmas were some of the last cake’s Buddy constructed, as the series was filmed prior to a recent accident at his home, where his right hand was impaled, and he was rushed into emergency surgery. TLC’s two-hour special following Buddy’s road to recovery premiering on Wednesday, December 23 at 9pm ET/PT, follows the dramatic events as they transpired in real time with footage captured immediately after the incident. It’s a long, emotional journey, from Buddy’s multiple surgeries, to his family anxiously waiting at the hospital, to grueling physical therapy, and to his first days back at the job. As business deadlines loom, commitments for over-the-top cakes stack up, and the holiday season around the corner, the stakes couldn’t be higher. But above all, Buddy faces the ultimate question: Can you still be the Cake Boss if you can’t make cakes?

“Buddy is like family to all of us at TLC, so we are thrilled and relieved for him that he is on the road to recovery following his accident,” said Howard Lee, President and General Manager, TLC. “Knowing Buddy’s determination and spirit, it’s no surprise that he would give it his all in the hopes of returning back to normal. We are proud to document his journey as part of this special.”

For more on Buddy vs. Christmas fans can head to FoodNetwork.com/BuddyvsChristmas each week to watch behind-the-scenes games with Buddy and to get seasonal recipe inspiration just in time for the holidays. Plus, follow #BuddyvsChristmas for tips from Buddy on how to rescue your baking fails and learn his top tips for sweet success. And for more on the TLC special visit TLC on FacebookInstagramTwitterTikTok, and YouTube.

Both programs were produced by Cakehouse Media.

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ABOUT FOOD NETWORK

Food Network (www.foodnetwork.com) is a unique lifestyle network, website and magazine that connects viewers to the power and joy of food. The network strives to be viewers’ best friend in food and is committed to leading by teaching, inspiring, empowering and entertaining through its talent and expertise. Food Network is distributed to nearly 100 million U.S. households and draws over 46 million unique web users monthly. Since launching in 2009, Food Network Magazine’s rate base has grown 13 times and is the No. 2 best-selling monthly magazine on the newsstand, with 13.5 million readers. Food Network is owned by Discovery, Inc., a global leader in real life entertainment spanning 220 countries and territories; the portfolio also includes Discovery Channel, HGTV, TLC, Investigation Discovery, and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

ABOUT TLC

Offering remarkable real-life stories without judgment, TLC shares everyday heart, humor, hope, and human connection with programming genres that include fascinating families, heartwarming transformations and life’s milestone moments. TLC is the #1 primetime ad-supported cable network across key female demos.

TLC is a global brand available in more than 84 million homes in the US and 270 million households around the world. Viewers can enjoy their favorite shows anytime, anywhere through TLC GO – the network’s TVE offering featuring live and on demand access to complete seasons. A destination online, TLC.com offers in-depth fan sites and exclusive original video content. Fans can also interact with TLC on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest. TLC is part of Discovery (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), reaching 3 billion cumulative viewers in more than 220 countries and territories to satisfy curiosity and captivate superfans with a portfolio of premium nonfiction, lifestyle, sports and kids content brands.

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