Rubbing Elbows with Celebrity Chefs in St. Pete
Hi all, Sheena Chihak, digital food editor at BHG.com here. Just two weeks before the biggest food holiday of the year I was given stomach-stretching practice in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida at their inaugural Enjoy Arts & Tastes Food and Wine Festival. Thanks to HSN, which is based in St. Pete’s and was a sponsor of the event, the festival was swarming with celebrity chefs such as Curtis Stone, Ming Tsai, Scott Conant, Donatella Arpaia, Ingrid Hoffmann, and Lorena Garcia who all have product lines with HSN.
My first stop was a behind-the-scenes tour of HSN.
Yes, that is Curtis Stone standing mere feet away filming a LIVE TV segment. Let me tell you, HSN is a well-oiled machine. Those counter-tops Curtis is working are on wheels so when his segment is finished they simply roll the table out into the hallway and the next chef rolls his tables in. Above you can see Curtis working at the counter that I saw afterward sitting in the hallway waiting to be cleaned. The craziest thing though, is how many people come and go with doors to the studio opening and closing while filming live TV. Curtis and the HSN host are definitely pros, they tuned everyone out and proceeded as though no one else was there. After filming, I got to sit down with Curtis for a brief interview.
Insights gleaned from Curtis:
- Look for the continuation of the kale trend. Curtis thinks you’ll be seeing more chefs getting creative with hearty, intense veggies such as rutabaga, celery root, and kohlrabi.
- If you’re in the Beverly Hills area, you’ll soon be getting a new Curtis-operated restaurant named Maude after his grandmother who taught him how to make fudge.
- Curtis is on the juicing trend. Each morning (when he’s home) he and his 2-year-old go out to their garden, pick some produce, and make juices to start their day.
The rest of the festival was full of food and cooking demos by the chefs. Duff Goldman hosted a huge late-night dessert tasting party at the Dali Museum. There was a Grand Tasting with 60+ local restaurants, wineries, and artists. Ingrid Hoffmann hosted an event called Sip, Savor & Swing with Latin-inspired dishes and dancing. The festival was capped off with a burger showdown called Battle of the ‘Burg hosted by Donatella Arpaia.
Here’s just a taste of my food samplings.
A few more things learned:
Donatella’s Tips for Perfect Pasta
- Give pasta room to dance (use lots of water)
- Add salt to your water (and don’t be stingy)
- Maintain a rolling boil
- Bonus tip: Do NOT add oil to your water. It keeps the sauce from sticking to the pasta later
“Iron Chef is the most real of reality TV,” Donatella Arpaia
Based on my own observation, Ingrid Hoffmann is a fantastic dancer! It felt like that needed to be shared.
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