No surprise that only a select few aspiring chefs will become finalists on The Next Food Network Star. But that shouldn't deter the dreams of those who want to pursue a culinary career. Bobby Flay, who has been cooking for more than 25 years, encourages people to follow their dream.
"If you want to be on TV, go to acting school. If you want to work in a restaurant, go to culinary school," the host of The Next Food Network Star recommends. He also warns that it is a commitment that requires hard work and patience. "There is no magic, it's a slow, steady process," he adds.
Loving to cook at home is a start, but it is far different than working professionally. The restaurant environment is much more rigorous and extends beyond preparing one or two meals. You show up to cook and you work hard for hours at a time.
Bobby Flay suggests that you find a restaurant that will let you work in the kitchen so you can see the type of rigors you'll be faced with as a professional chef. If you're still determined, go to culinary school and then seek out a position at a restaurant with a chef you admire. "You don't become a chef just because you graduate," says the Food Network star. "Having a culinary degree gives you the ability to enter an entry level position at a restaurant. You learn in school, and you hone your skills in the field."
And even if you aren't pursuing a culinary career or aspiring to be on The Next Food Network Star, you can still continue to improve your cooking skills at home by watching celebrity chefs, following their cooking tips, using them as inspiration for new dishes, and simply having fun in the kitchen.
Regardless of a recipe, Bobby Flay says "make it your own" and cook it in a way that feels right to you. The next time you fire up the grill, give these signature Bobby Flay recipes a try.
1-1/2 pounds ground chuck (80 percent lean) or ground turkey (90 percent lean)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons canola oil
4 slices cheese (optional)
4 hamburger buns, split; toasted, if desired
1. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions (about 6 ounces each). Form each portion loosely into a 3/4-inch-thick burger and make a deep depression in the center with your thumb. Season both sides of each burger with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a gas grill to high or heat coals in a charcoal grill until they glow bright orange and ash over. Brush the burgers with the oil. Grill the burgers until golden brown and slightly charred on the first side, about 3 minutes for beef and 5 minutes for turkey. Flip burgers. Cook beef burgers until golden brown and slightly charred on the second side, 4 minutes for medium rare (3 minutes if topping with cheese; see step 3) or until cooked to desired degree of doneness. Cook turkey burgers until cooked throughout, about 5 minutes on the second side.
3. Add cheese, if using, to the tops of the burgers during the last minute of cooking and top with a basting cover, close the grill cover, or tent the burgers with aluminum foil to melt the cheese. Sandwich the hot burgers between the buns and serve immediately.
Makes 1 cup
Top that Perfect Burger with Bobby Flay's recipe for Chipotle Ketchup. The celebrity chef known for his love of the grill says, "I love ketchup as much as the next American does, but when I was designing the menu for Bobby's Burger Palace, I knew that I wanted to have a little something extra to offer in the squeeze bottles. The simple addition of pureed chipotle in adobo gives prepared ketchup an exciting smoky edge, while still keeping its sweet yet tangy identity intact."
1 cup ketchup
2 to 3 tablespoons pureed canned chipotle in adobo (depending on how spicy you prefer it)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Whisk together the ketchup, chipotle, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. The sauce will keep for one week in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
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