Entries in Martie Knows Parties (10)



We are at the halfway point for Episode 7 of Food Network Star!I am so excited to have made it to this point. This episode was designed to showcase our presentation skills under the pressure of the media. We were to make one signature recipe that would tell the media who we were in one bite. After a short on-camera presentation about us and our recipe, we were to talk to elite members of the Hollywood press and food blogosphere: Ed Levine from the hugely popular Serious Eats, Christina McLarty from Entertainment Tonight, and Jess Cagle and Jill Bernstein from Entertainment Weekly.

Bob and Susie along with Ed Levine, Christina McLarty, Jess Cagle, and Jill Bernstein

There are three big twists this episode: 1-This challenge and all others going forward are individual challenges. 2-We are cooking and presenting without our mentors. 3-We finally get to cook in the Food Network studios at Chelsea Market.

It feels pretty surreal to walk into Chelsea Market with the realization you are actually going to BE in a Food Network show. I've been there several times and even got to watch an episode of Ultimate Recipe Showdown a few years ago so it was beyond surreal for me.

The recipe was to be a signature bite... one that would tell the panel who we are and what we are all about in one bite. I felt like nothing said "party" like ice cream and cake so I decided to bake my favorite Chocolate Soufflé Cake and spin a simple vanilla bean ice cream. What is a party without cake and ice cream, right? Well, I had to punt and execute my Plan B when there was no ice cream spinner in the kitchen AND the cups I had to bake in were not able to go in the oven. Ugggh! I knew the ingredients I had were also the ingredients for a little more complex dessert that I love to make, Chocolate Roulage. With just minutes before the timer started, I decided to make it instead but knew I had to work fast.

We had an hour. The cake only takes about 17 minutes to bake however, it needs to cool 30 minutes before you spread the cream and roll it up. That is 37 minutes. I only had one hour total. Ideally, I also like to put it in the freezer for a bit before serving so it slices better. No time for such luxuries on this day:) Thank goodness for my sweet friend and teammate Justin Warner. He saw me struggling to slice and plate and pitched in to help. He's awesome!

Justin helps me garnish by adding some raspberries!




The judges gave thumbs up for both my recipe and my presentation. Get my recipe for Chocolate Roulage...

Watch the full episode... Justin and I win this challenge. Sadly, our Team Alton teammate Emily does not fare as well.




This week on Food Network Star, our challenge was to elevate typical food court food. Each team was given a typical food court favorite: Team Giada had Mexican. Team Bobby got American Deli. Team Alton got Italian. Whew. While some may have thought we got the easy one this time, preparing beloved Italian food for a huge crowd of New Yorkers, some of Italian heritage, was not that simple a task. We decided to call our kiosk "Littler Italy" a little bite of Italy and a spin on the icon New York neighborhood.

Me & Justin frying up some deliciousness at Littler Italy

Actually, Team Giada had it the easiest. Martita's family owns a chain of Mexican restaurants and Yvan is from South America so they know Mexican food and flavors. Instead of a typical American deli, Team Bobby decided to do seafood American style and called their kiosk American Sandbar, which I thought was very creative and really showcased their love of seafood.

Justin fries all kinds of things at his restaurant Do or Dine in this uber-light batter so he decided to do a Fritto Misto- a mixed fry with veggies, etc. It was lovely and a crowd fav. I loved that he put lemon juice in a spray bottle. Get the recipe...

Emily decided to take her Retro Rad concept to the pannini press and made some grilled Fontina, apple, lemon, and thyme dessert sandwiches. Get the recipe...

I made a version of Arancini- Italian Rice Balls- which were deep fried and served with my homemade marinara. Get the recipe...

All of these were so fantastic... and our team worked really well together. Team Alton wins the challenge this week... watch the full episode on video!





Food Network Star: Episode 2 Tour Bus Challange Recap

Episode 2 of Food Network Star:Tour Bus Challenge was not as daunting as opening a restaurant in 24 hours like we did in Episode 1 but it was not as simple as it may have seemed, either. Down a person with the loss of Cristie the week before, we were certainly considered the underdogs once again this week.


Photo: Food NetworkTHE CHALLENGE

For this week's challenge, each team was given a neighborhood in Manhattan. We were to learn the food, the people, and the culture and teach a bus full of tourists about our neighborhood. We were also given an ingredient from a famous dish from a restaurant in the neighborhood and create our own unique dish with it to serve to our guests. The challenge was to be the most memorable tour guide and serve a dish that embraced the ingredient. TEAM ALTON was given the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which has been a center of Jewish culture in the city for many years.


Having learned a hard lesson from the first challenge, I jumped on the first thing offered up by Alton Brown and said I'd take the pastrami he offered from Katz' Deli. Since I had been to Katz' many years before, I knew a bit about it and felt happy about my choice. I was very happy I did not hesitate this time because the remaining options were pickles, Matzo, and bialys. None of those sounded as good to me as the Pastrami but I was a bit worried about what to do with the meat since it was already cooked. Our food needed to be portable, easy to serve on the tour bus, and we had to be able to keep it hot or cold for quite a while.


The challenge was to be memorable and the guests on the tour bus would vote for their favorite tour guide. Alton suggested we learn not only about the food but the history of the Lower East Side from the legendary restaurants we would visit. I had a wonderful time with Alan and Jake who told me about the history of the restaurant, the area, and what makes their pastrami so famous. Alan was dear and patient, listening to my story about having come to the restaurant years earlier. He walked me through how they make the pastrami but would not tell me the secret way the make the mustard. He did give me the list of ingredients... I used most of them plus some chopped pickles and pickle juice to make the spread for my dish, Puffy Pastrami Party Squares Get the recipe...


Since Giada's team got Little Italy, I wasn't exactly shocked that they won the challenge. However, what was not shown (not sure why not) was that I was voted most memorable tour guide by the guests on the bus. I also got great reviews for my dish!

In the end, Kara from Bobby's team went home after the producer's challenge. Next week's challenge: CHOPPED DESSERTS! The dreaded mystery basket.



EPISODE 1 of Food Network Star!

The first challenge was issued by Robert Irvine was to open our own restaurant in 24 hours to serve 150 diners and the executives from Food Network. Oh boy... here we go!

I made deviled eggs for our Southern-themed restaurant we decided to call Do South. The eggs had southern inspired toppings:

BBQ Beef Brisket with Mom's Coleslaw

Pork Cracklins with Creme Fraiche and Green Tomato Salsa

Fried Chicken Livers with Charred Onion Relish

I got my inspiration from the deviled egg bar I love to do for parties. Here's the how-to on my blog plus the recipe for Southern style deviled eggs.

I am obviously less than thrilled with the comments I got about my food and my presentation from Episode 1 but choose not to dwell on it. I live to cook another day. What did I learn from the experience? Duh- don't make eleven recipes for one dish. Don't make boiled eggs you have to peel for 150 people where there is no running water. Don't make things overly complicated. Simple, delicious food that is easy to make has always been my wheelhouse. I'm going to live there and not think I have to Iron Chef it up because I'm intimidated by some restaurant chefs who certainly should have won this challenge because we opened a restaurant. Don't worry- we're TEAM ALTON. We have some tricks up our sleeves, too. Stay tuned for Episode 2!  



Martie on Food Network Star: Meet the Team

Week one is behind us and I made it through to next week. Here's my two cents on the teams for this year's Food Network Star:


After meeting our mentors and teammates, we finally got to meet the other teams. Bobby Flay's team is rather menacing and tough acting. You can tell they mean business and they are serious about winning. They have attitude and they are trying to be intimidating. We'll see if their game is up to their swagger. Giada's team are all very nice. Ippy the giant Hawaiian is sweet with a lovely smile that lights up the whole room. So does Linkie from Mississippi by way of South Africa. They are a very attractive bunch and friendly enough. They look very pretty and neat in their white chef coats. Ippy looks like some giant Samurai warrior when he dons his headband to cook. Yvan is as nice as he is cute. All of them have training in restaurants or have been to culinary school and they are very attractive... very Giada-esque. 

TEAM ALTON from left: Judson, Cristie, Justin, Me, and EmilyOur team is a team of misfits and oddballs. Alton says that this show is the only way any of us could ever get a show on the Food Network because we're not normal. He's probably right.

I immediately love Justin Warner. What a character. I noticed him (how could you not) at the casting at Alton's studios in Atlanta and we chatted for a moment about his wacky socks and the fact that he flew to Atlanta from New York with a toothbrush, socks, and some underwear in his pocket. He didn't even pack a bag! Awesome! I drove over from Birmingham and had more luggage than he did! Anyway, the sock conversation was a bonding moment. I was so thrilled when he turned up on our team. He's incredibly smart and quick. As an urban rapper-hipster, we're an unlikely friendship but we share a love of music and food. He has not been to culinary school but has worked in restaurants since he was 15. He now owns his own restaurant in Brooklyn called Do or Dine. They serve up crazy great eats like Foie Gras Doughnuts and Deep Fried Deviled Eggs and have a Michelin rating. I had no doubt he'd be here and I'm so glad to see him.

Emily Ellyni s another true character but she's from the 50's, complete with funky retro glasses, some poodle skirts (well, they don't have poodles on them but fluffy like that- you know what I mean) and some little girlie cardigans. She's way too peppy and cute not to like her immediately and she's been to the CIA. Not the intelligence organization, the Culinary Institute of America. Since Justin and I have no culinary school training, it's great to have her on the team. She has also been a culinary instructor and is getting a PhD in hospitality. Where I come from, you don't go to school to get hospitality, you are just born with it, I am nonetheless impressed with Miss Emily from Ohio and her whole retro rad crockpot pressure cooker point of view. Very cool, very smart. What you did not see on the first episode was Emily teaching me how to use a pressure cooker to cook all of that brisket!

Cristie Schoen is peppy, pretty, and really fit. I don't think she eats her food. She is teensy! She's really motivated and has a ton of team spirit. At the time of the show, Cristie was living and working in Los Angeles as an actress and a set caterer. Now, having worked on a couple of movies, I know that is a tough job. Cristie reminds me of what I like best about Southern women: she's smart, stylish, determined, graceful under pressure, and has an accent I really appreciate. While she wasn't on the show long, I still talk to her frequently and hope she can find a way to showcase her passion for healthy eating and living.

Last but not least is Judson Todd Allen. Judson lives in my second city, Chicago and owns a catering company. Judson taught me how to step- something I love to watch... Judson performed with his college frat and is really good at it. Me, not so much. He's also a great singer- hope they show that at some point. Hope they don't show me singing. Judson and I share a love of New Orleans and cooking from that area. His grandparents are from there and he's inspired by them and talks about it frequently on the show. He gave me a huge compliment by asking me to cook his shrimp for the judges for the restaurant challenge! Yes, chef! Cannot wait to hang with Judson in Chicago this summer. I'm going to get him to come help me throw a party for Company 98-- we'll make it a MARTIE Gras party!Judd can make the stuffed shrimp dish he never got to make on the show and I'll make the gumbo!