5 Reasons Why You Should Buy Corn "Fresh" Instead of Frozen!

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5 Reasons Why You Should Buy Corn "Fresh" Instead of Frozen!

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1. It's Cheaper:

A bag of frozen corn cost anywhere between $2 and $6 a bag! I got 5 ears of corn for $1. Not 1 but "5" whole ears of corn!

2. It Tastes Better:

When you get frozen corn (especially on the cob) the texture is weird. It has that wrinkled "you know it came from the bag in the freezer" taste. No matter how flavorful it is, that texture isn't going anywhere.

3. It Feeds More People:

A $5 bag of frozen corn on the cob comes with about 6-8 small spheres of corn in it. That's about 2 full ears of corn. Which btw only cost me 40cents (Yea-- I'm totally rubbing it in).

4. More Nutrients:

Frozen corn is zapped of most of its nutrients. Well thats because often times its packaged with buttered flavoring, decreasing it's natural health benefits and increasing your chance for a heart attack. (Clearly exaggerating but you get the point!)

5. More TLC

Chefs and Home Cooks usually appreciate all that comes with the cooking process. From cleaning chicken, to shucking corn. To us, it creates an opportunity to bond with those around us. Before you know it, someone's cutting onions, another is salting the water and the other is well... Peeling corn. More help = More TLC. And more TLC = a more enjoyable meal!

#8CountKitchen #Blog #FreshNotFrozen 🌽🌽🌽😁🍴🙌🏽

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How I Pulled off my 1st "Pop-Up" Kitchen

So What had happened was...

I came up with this fantastic idea to host a "Pop-Up" Kitchen here in the Capital District. To my knowledge, nothing like this had ever been done before, and with my young, fresh and fun twist on all things food, I knew right away that I would be up for the challenge. 

Of course all things sound AMAZINGLY doable, until you actually sit down and write EVERY LITTLE DETAIL on paper. At this point, I had put the cart before the horse, sent out the Save-The-Date, without having any CONFIRMED details regarding this event. No location, no menu, no nothing. I prayed to the man above that I would be able to build enough anticipation to leverage support as I delivered the ultimate culinary experience. With so much to do, in so little time, I knew I had to kick into overdrive, shift gears, and knock out the following items from my to do list!  

1. SECURE A LOCATION

Securing a location was my number 1 priority. Although I knew I wanted to do a pop-up kitchen, I was still deciding whether or not I wanted to keep with 8 Count Kitchen tradition and entertain in an intimate and less formal setting, or if I wanted to spice it up, try something new, and entertain in a restaurant to and create a more formal dining experience. Although my friend's home seemed to be the PERFECT fit, I knew that I wanted to put myself up to the challenge by assuming the role of "Executive Chef" for the night. Now I must admit, I was nervous as a mouse in a snake tank because outside of Food Network's All-Star Academy, I had never worked in a formal restaurant kitchen before...I mean unless you count McDonald's circa 2006, lol! 

Nonetheless, it was time to make it happen! Finally after doing my homework, and considering a number of restaurants and private event locations, I decided to pitch the idea to Bangkok Bistro.The owners were intrigued by the idea, and before I knew it, Bangkok Bistro had been selected as the location/venue for the event. 

2. CREATE A MENU

This must have been the most ANNOYING part of the process. Don't get me wrong, it was extremely fun, but when I tell you I went BACK AND FORTH sooooo many times, listen... You don't even know the half of it, lol! Here are a few bullet points to help affirm some of my struggle, lol!

  • I knew that I was going to incorporate at least (2) of the dishes I prepared on Food Network's All-Star Academy. Off the bat, I knew my infamous "5 Cheese Mac and Please," would be one of them, but what would my other options be? Do I do my Thai dish since I'll be hosting the event in a Thai restaurant, or one of my elimination dishes to show strength? 
  • I was committed to creating a menu that had something on it for everyone. I knew I wanted a vegetarian dish (with hopes of being able to also make it vegan), an ethnic dish, a comfort food dish, a dangerously delicious dish, and a deconstructed dessert. But hmm...what to decide?
  • I also wanted to include a seafood dish, but then I took in consideration seafood allergies, and having to adjust the ticket price, so I made this a seafood-less menu.  

After going back and forth, and even reprinting the menus MULTIPLE TIMES (talk about indecisive, lol) I decided to stick to the following:

3. SECURE A TEAM

My first idea was to hire a professionally trained staff, but then I realized that not only might it be costly, but it would over formalize, over complicate, and potentially compromise the 8 Count Kitchen culture. So of course I thought to myself, "Time to bring in the big dogs!" I decided to bring in people who knew me inside and out, and who are no strangers to the "focused" Jermaine who is under pressure and in overdrive mode. It was time to bring in my BEST FRIEND (of 18 years) CJ, my A 1-Day 1, Ness Diddy, my other half, Isaiah, and My Brother from another mother, Jacques! CJ and Nessa would entertain guests, and help to hand out plates in between courses, Jacques would host the event and manage the floor, and Isaiah would be my eyes and ears and assist as needed. I had it all planned out...Perfectly. Then I thought to myself "Who's going to help me in the kitchen?" I remembered when I was on the show, I received a message on LinkedIn that read:

"Congratulations on making the show, that's big. If you ever need a sous chef, you know where to find me."

So my mind immediately thinks about Tim, an old friend of mine from my first job out of college. I contacted him, he was totally stoked, and the next thing I knew, he was ready to travel from Pittsburgh N.Y. to help me deliver the dinner of a lifetime! 

Check out my team below: 

4. SOLIDIFY THE EVENT FLOW

If you know anything about me, you know I am a non-traditionalist. The creative side of my brain influences everything-- From my abstract twists on traditional cuisine, to the way I dress, and the way I present myself. So my goal was to create an experience that mirrored those same ideals. By creating a formal dining experience, in a relaxed space, with a "dress-to-impress" dress code, playing smooth groove hip-hop and RnB hits, I was able to develop a comfortable atmosphere for a well-balanced group of guests.

5. CREATE A GUEST LIST

Everyone knows that I am huge on "social dynamic". With (2) advanced degrees in the social sciences (B.A., Communication and Rhetoric, M.A., Organizational Communication) It would probably make a bit of sense right? Lol... I knew that I wanted a beautiful mix of people. Younger, older, darker, lighter, introverted, extroverted, and the whole nine. So I wrote down a list of all of the people that I wanted to be there, sent out my digital invitation, spoke it to existence, and BOOM!... About 85% of my anticipated guest list was present. I was committed to creating an environment where people could learn from each other, appreciate each other's differences, and hopefully get to know someone that they may have ever spoken to otherwise. And judging from all of the smiling faces, it seemed like "Operation Social Games" was successful! 

6. DEFINE THE "SMALL" DETAILS

Everyone knows that I thoroughly enjoy throwing events. Although stressful, its always rewarding to see the fruits of your labor, and the end result of your hard work. Believe it or not, the small details are the biggest. Everything from the of the space, to the vibe of the music... EVERYTHING counts. I made sure that each table was dressed with black linen, a red restaurant napkin, and freshly picked flowers to match the floral aesthetic of the menu, and the edible floral components to a couple of my dishes. I also made sure that we had (3) customized drink menus on display at the bar, with custom recipes that I created (and Bangkok Owner, Michelle Tran perfected), and drink names that would be fun and engaging for the guests. I also designed content to be looped in a slide show on the television at the bar, that would promote our signature drink specials, send a couple of gratifying messages to my guests, and showcase my culinary artistry in between courses.  Not to mention, I actually sketched out each dish, the ingredients, the garnishes, and the way it would be plated. (see sketch below)

 

7. ESTABLISH A LOCAL PARTNERSHIP

Things get a bit tricky when you're pricing these events. You don't want to go too high, and potentially limit the number of attendees, but you don't want to go too low, and end up with a huge loss. But when choosing an appropriate price, one thing you'll have to consider (and unfortunately cannot always leverage), is your food cost. I was on a mission to create, maintain and sustain a relationship with the perfect local business, and I was successful at doing so. Thanks to the this newly established relationship, I was able to provide an elegant 5- Course meal, at only $55 a person. Let the church say amen! Lol #WontHeDoIt

Needless to say...

the event was a complete SUCCESS! The food was delicious, the drinks were divine, the vibe was on point, and the guests were completely entertained. Aside from a few equipment issues, which completely affected timing, It was definitely an event that will go down in the books. To everyone that attended, thank you SOOOO very much for spending your Saturday night with me. It was great to see all of your smiling faces...And those smiling faces reminded me why I do what I do! To those who wanted to come, but could not attend, thank you for supporting from a distance. There will be future opportunities for you to get down with the get down, so please be on the look out. To everyone else, peace, love and blessings! Til' next time!  

 

To book your next 8 Count Kitchen Dinner, or to simply say hello, contact me using the information below!

Jermaine Wright
jwright@8countkitchen.com

www.8countkitchen.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Lakeia's Surprise Birthday Dinner | Party of 20

So I'm in my car on my break, and I get a text that reads:
"Jermaine this is very last minute. Any chance you are free to do a surprise dinner party for Lakeia next weekend." 

My initial thought was "Next weekend? Today is Saturday! That gives me less than a week to plan, schedule, have a formal consultation, discuss the menu, make recommendations, discuss the budget, discuss the party size, discuss whether the event would be appropriate for personal chef services or catering, buffet style or plated. Not to mention I have prior engagements that I have already committed to." And then of course my immediate second thought was "Wait...It's for Lakeia? And Jen is asking? Of course I'll cancel my weekend plans, and stress out for them" Lol! 

We decided that this elegant birthday party would take place on a Friday evening, under a beautiful wedding inspired tent, with a fully stocked bar, using white sheer table cloths and beautifully designed center pieces. What we had not yet discussed was the most important thing...The MENU. They say you never know someone until you live with them. Well...Let me preface this by saying that Lakeia and I have never been roommates, but I guarantee you, after discussing Lakeia's "Foodie Do's and Don'ts", it was if we had been roommates for YEARS. I learned so much about Mrs. Bowman in just a matter of minutes. Lakeia has a very umm... particular palette. Okay, okay, yes, from my understanding she is a very specific (picky) eater, lol!   

Instead of creating the menu based on my abstract culinary philosophy, we created the menu using negations. The questions quickly transitioned from, "How about this *insert fancy dish description here*" to "What else isn't Lakeia a fan of." And let me tell you, I loved EVERY SECOND OF IT. It almost reminded me of a challenge on the show, and all I kept repeating to myself was "Challenge accepted"! I learned that we couldn't use cheese, anything creamy, potatoes, pork, or nuts. My immediate thought was "Welp, there goes my signature 5 Cheese Mac and Please with Jalapeno's and Bacon that won me Top 4 on Food Network's All-Star Academy."  Nonetheless, I discovered some of her favorites and decided I would work from there. Some of her favorite items included Lemon Garlic Chicken, Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, Rice with Gravy, and Shrimp... Specifically Shrimp Scampi. 

So here we are, one night before the event, and we FINALLY have a menu finalized and ready to go. We decided that for course one, I would create a petite appetizer trio with my signature Caribbean Jerk Grilled Shrimp Skewers with a Warm Sweet and Spicy Caribbean Salsa, Succulent Jumbo Shrimp Scampi cooked in a delicious Lemon Butter Sauce with Green Onions, Garlic and Shallots, a Bitter Greens Curly Parsley and Watercress Salad, and two Lime Wedges for some color and acidity. 

When I say it was a HIT!!!! Mannnnnnnnnn listen! Lol. Nothing is more humbling to a chef than empty plates, smiling faces and the infamous "Is there any more?" Usually to save my clients the embarrassing moment of having to "ask" for more, I'll come around and pass whatever is left over. Before I could complete my sentence in asking "would you like...", they were already gone. This group had no shame and I LOVED it! Of course I asked the woman of the hour how she enjoyed her food, and she responded "Perfect! It was sooo delicious." At that moment, I knew my job was done, and it was on to course two. 

For the second course, I decided to really cater to the Birthday Girl's Palate. Now remember, she likes Lemon Garlic Chicken, Kale, and Rice and Gravy. It was my job to kick it up a notch, and to creatively elevate those very specific flavor profiles without losing sight of the traditional value of the ingredients...And I did just that. For our entree, we had Seared Lemon Chicken in a Thyme, Marjoram, and Rosemary Butter, with Southern Style Kale, cooked low and slow with Smoked Turkey Tails, and Southern Spices, with Herbed White Rice and a Cream a Chicken Lemon Gravy! Mmmmmmmm Mmmmmm Good! 

Another HOME RUN!!! More empty plates, more smiling faces, and more requests for seconds. What seemed to shock everyone was that those "Southern Greens" they just devoured was Kale and not your traditional Collards. I got asked for the recipe numerous times, and even supported a guest in eating what was left straight from the pot! Another guest politely asked if she could take some of the greens home to her family, as she could not believe they were collards, to which I quickly responded "Sure, if you can get to them first!" Lol.

 20+ people gathered to celebrate the life of an amazing woman. What better way to celebrate Lakeia Bowman's "25th Birthday" than to set up a wedding-like scene in beautiful backyard, filled with beautiful guests, tasty cocktails and delicious food. I am so glad I got to bring the 8 Count Kitchen experience to your surprise birthday party and I am honored to be a part of this life-long memory! 

Thank you again for having me. Until next time!

For inquiries about Personal Chef and Catering Services, and for for bookings, please visit us at www.8countkitchen.com or click here to contact us directly! 

 

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Dinner with the Walsh Family

On Tuesday April 26th, 2016, I had the pleasure of delivering Private Chef Services for the Walsh family party of 8 (including myself). I drove up the pavement and and noticed a beautiful home with a perfectly landscaped exterior.  When I got out of my car, I was greeted by a young man, who took me through the secret "cool people entrance." Upon entry I was given a warm welcome by Kyle, Kevin and Casey Walsh, who were NOTHING short of amazing. Casey gave me a quick walk-through of her kitchen. From alphabetized spice drawers, to beautiful porcelain dishes, I was literally in "Private Chef Heaven." It wasn't long until I shifted my question from " Casey do you have...?" To "Casey, where can I find...?," because she literally had EVERYTHING!

Shortly after my arrival, Executive Director at The Social Enterprise and Training Center, Jennifer Lawrence, graced our presence with her son Anthony and the newest addition to her family, Frank, of Beijing China. Frank is a foreign exchange student who joined the Lawrence family for the American experience. Being new to America, It's probably safe to say that Frank's palate had been well adjusted to food native to his culture. All I could think was "Boy do I have a fun challenge ahead of me." I had to impress 7 different people, with 7 different palates, who have had 7 different experiences with food. Not to mention, 1 one of them was an executive chef at One Caroline Street Bistro in Saratoga New York and 3 of them were kids (typically the most blunt critics, and by far the most difficult to impress).  While helping me prep one of my dishes (a very hands-on part of the 8 Count Kitchen experience of course, LOL), I looked over and noticed Kyle's perfectly peeled potatoes.  I muttered a very pleasant, "Oh no, don't worry about them being perfect. The dish is pretty rustic," to which he responded, "Really? At my restaurant, leaving the skin on peeled potatoes would get someone in BIG trouble." We both chuckled as I thought to myself, "Ok Jermaine, no pressure here!" Lol.

Prior to my visit, Casey and I had been in conversation about a menu for a couple of weeks. We finally decided on a 3 course menu filled with a few of my favorite signature dishes. As an appetizer, we had my signature 5 Cheese Mac and Please with Jalapeños and Bacon, the exact dish that ranked me Top 4 on Food Network's All-Star Academy, to which Celebrity Chef Alex Guarnaschelli commented "Mac and Please...For a classic American dish, I think Jermaine is on to something." For the entree, I did one of my favorite Caribbean comfort foods. I prepared my Indo-Caribbean spiced Curry Chicken with Chick Peas, Potatoes (Perfectly peeled might I add, Lol) and Thyme Butter White Rice. And for dessert... Lord have mercy. I did my oh-so-sinful decadent Oreos fried in a Cinnamon Brown Sugar Pumpkin Spiced Pancake Batter, with Chocolate Sauce and Confectionery Sugar. I really don't think they knew what they were getting themselves into lol!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I cook with tender, love, care and soul! They also know that I LOVE to plate. Plating is one of the most enjoyable (and time consuming, Lol) processes of food service for me. Similar to my friend Lisa Washington, cast mate and co-competitor in Food Network's All-Star Academy, who sets her table with love, I plate mine with a similar kind of love... the warm and fuzzy kind of love that makes you get all bubbly inside. It's that first date kind of love! That "can't wait til the second date," kind of love. That, "I don't mind paying an $100 restaurant bill" kind of love. That... Ok you get the point, Lol! But in all seriousness, we all know that before you fall in love with how a dish tastes, you have to fall in love with how it looks, because we eat with our eyes first. 

Before the first course went out, I made sure that it was plated with "Simplistic PERFECTION." One of my biggest take away's from working directly with celebrity chef Robert Irvine on Food Network's All-Star Academy, is that there's something very SEXY about "simple." Some of the simplest plates are comprised of delicate ingredients, and the most complex of flavors. I plated my dish in a 4 ounce ramekin, layered it with my cellentani pasta, then cheese sauce, then shredded cheese, and finally piled it to the top with even more cheese. Once they were ready to go, I baked them on 350 until the cheese melted and oozed from the sides. I then broiled it briefly to give the cheese some color.  For my final touches, I topped it with the bacon, and the jalapenos that were sauteed in the bacon fat. Mmm Mmm Mmmmm... If you could only see how good it looked... well I guess you can, with the photos below lol. 

After everyone finished eating, I gave the table a quick scan...the food was completely gone. There was no evidence that Mac and Cheese had ever existed in those ramekins. As clean as those things were, you would of thought they were something straight out of a Museum. The kids (including Frank) even pulled me to the side and said "This is the BEST Mac and Cheese EVER!" With smiling faces, empty plates, and positive commentary, the Walsh family was ready for dish #2. 

It wasn't until I started plating dish number two that I realized I made enough Indo-Caribbean Curry Chicken to last a month! With keeping leftovers in mind, and recognizing the amount of unforgivable sin in dish number one, I decided to plate this dish a bit more petite than my normal portion size. I used a smaller dish to create the rice molds, and served the chicken in a half moon instead of a full blown lunar eclipse. I then garnished the thyme butter rice with dried cilantro and fresh thyme for color and freshness. After a couple of bites, and great conversation, I quickly scanned the table. Before I knew it, Kevin was on plate number 2, and everyone else fell victim to empty plates and cleaned chicken bones.  My heart smiled, as I released an unforgettable cheese smile that I fought to remain hidden. I gave a quick "who's ready for dessert?", which to no surprise, everyone yelled "ME!"

I hate to brag, but my Fried Oreos have really made a name for themselves. My Oreos are fried to perfection in a generous coat of Cinnamon, Brown Sugar, and Pumpkin Spiced Pancake Batter, drizzled with Chocolate Syrup and then Dusted with Confectionery Sugar.  LORD...HELP...US...ALL!!! I prepared the batter, fried them up, and set them in a basket of paper towels to dry all of the excess oil. I plated them with temptation in mind. With 2 Oreos, one stacked on top of the other, a Zig-Zag Chocolate Syrup Drizzle, and a quick Confectionery Dust over the top. MAN, did they go like HOT CAKES! Again...another successful dish! 

By the end of the night, everyone was STUFFED! We took pictures, recorded videos, shared laughs, and created memories. Speaking of which, one memory that I will never forget is the DEATH of Casey's Bennington Potters Blue Agate Baking Dish. At this time, we would like to have a moment of silence.................................................................................................................................Thank you! 

Yes... I was the culprit, and I felt TERRIBLE! But Casey and her warm spirit found it in her heart to smile and say "Don't worry about it...It was ready to go anyway." I released a sigh of relief, went back to cooking, and made sure to leave the rest of the dishes FARRRR away from the ledge! 

To say my experience with the Walsh Family was AMAZING, would be a complete understatement. Casey was a fabulous host, Kevin was a great conversationalist, Kyle was inspiring, and Jennifer was the life of the party. The adults had a great time, the kids THOROUGHLY enjoyed their meals, and Jennifer Lawrence even posted the following on social media:

"This was so much fun! Thank you for the great time Casey Mulligan Walsh and Kevin Walsh! We loved, laughed, had great cocktails, ate an amazing meal, enjoyed seeing the boys bond in their own way, mourned pottery that is no more, and you all even got me out of the literal ditch!"

She then continued to say:

"This was a WONDERFUL night! Casey Mulligan Walsh and Kevin Walsh are the best hosts and Jermaine MrSikcess Wright lights up any kitchen he uses-- making the entire night an experience. If you are looking for a fabulous guaranteed success dinner party --book Jermaine MrSikcess Wright "

Special thanks to Jennifer Lawrence, and thank you to the Walsh family for inviting me into your home. Until next time! 

For inquiries about Private Chef and Catering Services, or for bookings, visit us at www.8countkitchen.com or email Jermaine directly at jwright@8countkitchen.com! 

 

 

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Chef Jermaine Wright to Judge Girl Scouts of NENY's Cookies and Cocktails Competition

We were approached by Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York to participate in their Cookies and Cocktails Culinary Competition as a Judge. With the historical mission of the organization, and the creative culinary twist on their event, we quickly realized that this would definitely be an event worth supporting. 

Cookies and Cocktails challenges chefs & bartenders to create innovative culinary offerings and tantalizing cocktails, giving each competitor a shot a taking home the crown. Chefs are to incorporate girl scout cookie flavors of their choice into either an appetizer, an entree or a dessert! The chef who most successfully incorporates their cookies in their dish will be crowned the winner, and a year of bragging rights. 

Of course naturally, hearing the details of the competition struck every competitive nerve in our bodies. We were ready to prep the test kitchen, crank out some new recipes, get in the ring, and compete ourselves. Unfortunately the Culinary Gods had it written in the stars for 8 Count Kitchen Chef Jermaine Wright to Judge the event, making him more eager to see the contestants pushed to their culinary limits. Check out Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York's Sponsored Ad on Facebook below:

We are so excited to announce the addition of local chef celebrity, Jermaine Wright! Jermaine will be judging the culinary and cocktail competitions at Cookies & Cocktails – his expertise in the kitchen is sure to make him a tough judge. Jermaine is currently competing on All Star Academy on the Food Network against the BEST home cooks in the country!

Jermaine is a Dancer, a self-taught chef and an online food personality. He is the Founder of 8 Count Kitchen TM, where he caters, shares recipes, and showcase's his web-series that gives local dance and fitness studios a platform to promote their business. If you want to learn more about Jermaine, watch All Star Academy on the Food Network on Sunday night and visit his website http://www.8countkitchen.com/#8countkitchen.

Join us on March 29 with Jermaine and taste the best cuisine and cocktails the Capital Region has to offer! Purchase your tickets today!https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx…

The evening will be hosted by Julia Dunn of WRGB6, will feature live music by the TS Ensemble! All proceeds of the event will go to their Young Women's Leadership Initiative, a program exclusively for high school girls and beyond. 


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8 Count Kitchen Releases Valentine's Day Special

With just a few days away from the big day, we wanted to spice things up a bit for you and that special someone. We're doing a special play on Chocolate and Bacon, with a delicious Dessert Cous Cous, Seared Pork Belly and a Spicy Chocolate G'Nog!!! (Yes, I said G'Nog, lol) Check it out!  

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8 Count Kitchen Ep.3 to air on YouTube on Sunday 1/24/16

Hey 8 Counters!!! Just a heads up--We'll be releasing Episode 3 of 8 Count Kitchen on Sunday 1/24/16. It's going to be soooo dope! From the choreography, to the food, man oh man, it's definitely going to be a treat.  We knew some of you have been on the edge of your seats, waiting for the premiere of Food Network's All-Star Academy, where I compete against 8 of America's BEST Home Cooks for the chance to win $50,000. So we wanted to give you something to temporarily satisfy your food-tainment cravings. 

The team and I worked extremely hard to produce such an entertaining episode. As always, the episode is filled with TONS of laughs, fun choreography and delicious food!!!  We had TONS of fun both on and off camera, which I'm sure will be more than apparent, Lol. Thanks again for all of your support! Be sure to tune in and spread the word! Oh... and don't forget to use the hashtag #8CountKitchen. Thanks peeps! ;) 

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Jermaine Wright competes on Food Network's All-Star Academy

FOOD NETWORK'S ALL-STAR ACADEMY IS BACK IN SESSION ON SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14TH AT 10PM ET/PT

Robert Irvine and Andrew Zimmern Join Veteran Academy Mentors Alex Guarnaschelli and Curtis Stone in Battle for Best Home Cook and $50,000 Grand Prize

NEW YORK - January 8, 2016 - The culinary classroom opens for nine talented home cooks with season two of primetime competition series All-Star Academy, where returning mentors Alex Guarnaschelli and Curtis Stone are joined by newcomers Robert Irvine and Andrew Zimmern to guide these competitors through intense kitchen challenges and teach them to cook like pros. During the eight-episode season, each star chef leads a team of students in amped up, school-themed food lessons to elevate their cooking skills. Dishes are judged by a rotating cast of expert “guest professors,” including Richard Blais, Scott Conant, Haylie Duff, Duff Goldman, Carla Hall, Katie Lee, Jeff Mauro, Debi Mazar, Adam Richman, Aarón Sánchez and Geoffrey Zakarian. Each week a student is eliminated, leaving only the grand-prize winner standing with a $50,000 grand prize and bragging rights for their mentor. Following the season two premiere on Sunday, February 14th at 10pm (all times ET/PT), All-Star Academy will air in its regular timeslot on Sundays at 9pm.

All-Star Academy takes accomplished home cooks out of their own kitchens and into a fierce culinary battle,” said Bob Tuschman, General Manager and Senior Vice President, Food Network. “With renowned chefs Robert and Andrew joining Alex and Curtis as mentors, the Academy contestants are in for a once-in-a-lifetime master class that takes their cooking skills to heights they never imagined.”

The competitors are: Lee Abbott (Santa Barbara, California), Natasha Clement (La Place, Louisiana), Anna Cooper (Houston, Texas), Lynn Duffy (Cold Spring, New York),Monica Folken (Las Vegas, Nevada), Zoe Kelly (Miami, Florida), Dain Lee (New York, New York), Lisa Washington (Atlanta, Georgia) and Jermaine Wright (Queens, New York).

Viewers wanting more can visit FoodNetwork.com/AllStarAcademy to meet the home cooks, get competitive strategies from the mentors and relive all the action from each episode with photos and videos. In exclusive interviews, the mentors reveal who taught them the most about cooking. Plus, take a new quiz to find out if you are an all-star cook. Be sure to join the conversation on Twitter with #AllStarAcademy.

All-Star Academy is produced by Relativity Lifestyle Television, a division of Relativity Television.

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8 Count Kitchen Caters for 40 AKA's

The Lovely Ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. called us to whip up a delicious lunch menu for a party of 40.  They wanted something light, healthy and hearty... So we knew just the thing! We gave them a beautiful Pasta Primavera  garnished with Fresh Herbs and Edible Flowers, (2) Build-Your-Own Salads. One was a sweet very-berry salad with a Raspberry Vinaigrette, the other was a traditional salad with Tomatoes, Olives, Peppers, Cucumbers and Red Onions. We added flavorful boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, Garlic Bread, Drinks, and an Assortment of Cookies. There is nothing more delightful than a room filled with happy women with full bellies!  

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8 Count Kitchen Chef Jermaine Wright wins Cooking THROW-DOWN!

On Saturday September 19th, 2015, we left our mark at the New Baltimore Conservancy's "Playin' with Fire" Chili THROWDOWN! We demolished our 10 competitors with our original recipe chili, leaving the judges burning for more. We received AMAZING feedback from the local patrons that traveled station to station, tasting different renditions of chili. Some were vegetarian, others had pork and sirloin steak, but one special chili had Kale and Swiss Chard, Chunky Beef with a Serrano Pepper and Habanero kick! That's right, ours was a people's favorite. "Wow-- That's good chili"-- "Your chili is the best here, hands down. You definitely made a white man sweat". -- "Kale and Swiss Chard? Chef you're a genius".  Needless to say, we were awarded the Chef's Choice Award by Executive Chef at The Boathouse Grille in New Baltimore's Shady Harbor Marina. We came, we saw, and we conquered! Can't wait for next year's All- Star Competition! 

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8 Count Kitchen Tasting Party

8 Count Kitchen kicked off their first "Tasting Party" on Thursday August 27th, 2015. With an 8 item Tasting Menu, 2 Signature Cocktails, and 30 guests, this was definitely a night to remember. Each dish was made to order, and cooked to perfection. With over 240 comment cards, detailing the critical opinions of our hungry guests, we came out a winner! 

 

Be sure to check back here for more updates from 8 Count Kitchen! 

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