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TV Mon May 14 2012

Who to Root for on "Food Network Star"

foodnetworkstar_karasigle_teambobby.jpgThe eighth season of "Food Network Star" debuted last night (they've dropped "Next" from the title -- which is good, since so many seasons have resulted in multiple stars, and not always the one who won), and Two Chicagoans are in the mix: Kara Sigle and Judson Allen.

Kara Sigle is the owner of Nostalgic Catering -- as well as a partner and instructor at The Total Body Boot Camp. Her angle is healthier renditions of family-friendly "nostalgic dishes."

Judson Todd Allen is a personal chef and caterer who, according to his expansive website, has been "a permanent fixture at the Kenmore Live Studio" where he films several cooking shows. His focus is also on healthy food, but brings in Creole flavors he learned from his grandfather. Allen is very active on Twitter and makes appearances on TV, radio and at events on a regular basis.

The format on "Food Network Star" has changed this season: three teams of five contestants were hand-picked by Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis and Alton Brown, who will act as advisors throughout the competition. In the first episode, the teams were immediately thrown into a build-a-restaurant challenge with Robert Irvine, something usually reserved for the later in the season. It's a big sign that things have been shaken up considerably. The teams work out their restaurant concepts and menus, then head to work preparing their dishes. They'll be judged by 120 diners in addition to Food Network execs Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson and the other stars.

Both Allen and Sigle were among the more positively reviewed chefs in the first episode. Sigle's caramelito cookies was tasty, although she flubbed her introduction to the judges by saying it tasted like her mother. Allen wowed the judges with his shrimp and grits -- as well as his story about his Creole grandfather and the Mardi Gras beads he handed out. He looks to be one to watch as the season wears on.

"Food Network Star" airs Sunday nights at 8pm.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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