‘Chopped,’ by the Book

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Can you survive the chopping block?  This is the question chefs must ponder as they compete on Ted Allen’s Food Network show, “Chopped.”  On Friday, May 25, at noon, Williams-Sonoma South Coast Plaza will offer Allen’s fans a chance to meet the icon, and see if they think his new recipes make the cut as they once again offer an in-store book signing.

Allen is widely accomplished as both a writer, and a food expert, and he brings his incredible knowledge base to his new book “In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks.”

Ted is perhaps best known as a member of the “Fab Five” on Bravo’s “Queer Eye” television series.  He served as the resident food and wine expert on the show, which aimed to makeover men by teaching them more about fashion, food, and culture.

He was also a judge for both “Top Chef” and “Iron Chef America” before landing his own hosting gig on “Chopped.”  In this go-round, contestant chefs are given a basket containing mystery ingredients moments before the competition starts.  They then must fashion a three-course meal, which needs to impress the judges, as one chef is “chopped” after each course.

After being around such innovative cooking for so much of his career, Allen is uniquely qualified to hold court on what makes a successful sophisticated meal.  His qualifications when it comes to writing a cookbook however, don’t end there.

Holding an M.A. in Journalism from New York University, Allen has been honing his writing craft for some time as well.

He has been a contributing editor and writer for “Esquire” magazine since 1997, and prior to joining the staff there, he was a senior editor and food critic at “Chicago” magazine.  He currently also writes for publications such as “Bon Appetite,” and “Food Network Magazine.”

In addition to his impressive journalistic endeavors, Allen also co-authored “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab Five’s Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better, and Living Better,” and has one previous cookbook, “The Food You Want to Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes” under his belt to boot.

All this expertise however, doesn’t mean anything if his recipes aren’t delicious.  After scanning just a few of the new book’s offerings, I can vouch for the fact that he’s hit another one out of the park.

“In My Kitchen” isn’t meant to cater to folks who are looking for simple, quick meals, but rather to the cook who wants to savor the process, and explore new flavor profiles.

Allen has said, “For me, the kitchen is the most special room in the house, and it’s a place for adventure…Every recipe in this book, from the simplest baked rice to a tongue-sizzling Thai curry, contains a tip, a trick, or an epiphany, something that has enriched my understanding of and love for the kitchen—and that will enrich yours, too.”

With offerings such as “Wiggly Rice Noodle and Herb Salad with Sweet Shrimp,” “Pork and Black Bean Tinga with Chipotle,” and “Showstopping Triple-Layer Meyer Lemon Cake,” he’s definitely enriching my appetite!

The fact that I couldn’t have told you prior to checking out this book what a “tinga” in fact is, proves that Allen is doing exactly what he set out to do:  exposing home cooks to new ideas and providing them with a few sure-fire ways to ditch the chicken breast and broaden their horizons.

As with other Williams-Sonoma events, Allen will only be signing copies of his book purchased from the store, so be sure to have a receipt handy.  For more information on the event, please visit www.williams-sonoma.com, or call 714-751-1166.


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