Home chef recipe suggestion: Cheesy squash

Screen shot 2016-04-07 at 9.59.04 AMSo, MasterChef is holding auditions in Dallas on Saturday, and while I don’t plan to audition, it has motivated me to cook at home more when I can. This is a recipe for yellow and green squash (zucchini) that’s simple and more-or-less healthy.

I tried making it twice before, and it got better — I think because I disregarded some advice, which was “don’t worry about lining up the squash neatly — just do a layer.” Wrong. The OCD in me wanted consistency, so I fanned out the slices, which I tried to keep as thin as I could, but wasn’t a jerk about. Douse will EVOO, and grind some black pepper; salt to taste. I then added a sliced pepper (red, jalapeno — whatever; I mix and match) and if you want, a diced shallot (wonderful aroma!), spread shredded cheddar over the top. Then repeat a second time (this time with yellow squash).

Screen shot 2016-04-07 at 9.59.15 AMI use a convection oven, which is easier to monitor, but if you don’t have one, pre-heat your oven to 400. Cover the dish in foil, and bake covered for 30 mins. After 30, remove the foil, sprinkle some parmesan on top, and put back in at 400 for 10–15 mins. more, until burbling, and voila! It smells great and it best served hot!

I’ve been doing weekly cocktail recipes for a few years now, so I think I’ll add food. If you have any recipes you think I should include, email or tweet me, with photos. Bon appetite.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘MasterChef’ holds open casting call in Dallas April 16


Are you a home cook, but friends prefer to come to your house rather than eat out … not because it’s cheaper, but because it’s better? You might have what it takes, then, to get on MasterChef, the Fox reality competition series that takes non-professional chefs and gives them the chance to show of their skills. North Texas’ Ben Starr made it pretty far a few seasons ago, and you might as well. The casting agency for the series is holding an open call on April 16 for Season 8 of the series at the Sheraton Dallas in Downtown, from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Go to MasterChefCasting.com to register.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Kitchen LTO is about to pick a new chef, and you can vote

LTOLast last year, Blythe Beck became the first chef to repeat her stint leading the kitchen at Kitchen LTO, Casie Caldwell’s “permanent pop-up” restaurant in Trinity Groves. Well, Beck’s delicious tenure is about to come to an end, and five new chefs are vying for the spot, all of whom were introduced to diners at an event on Sunday night.

Some you might already know: Anastacia Quinones, who led Abraham Salum’s kitchen at Salum for about two years (as you might expect, her cuisine is Modern Mexican); Adrien Nieto, who may look familiar (he was on Season 2 of MasterChef) and has lived in Dallas about a year, making California-inspired food; David Rodriguez, who served a braised beef cheek and white Anson Mills grits in support of his Modern Texas style; and two chefs who ran out at the tasting before I got a sample: Ken Patrick (Southwestern) and Chris Stephens (New American).  Attendees got to vote for each of the chefs and weigh in on their favorites.

But there’s no reason you can’t vote as well. You have through Saturday, May 9, to cast your support in favor of any of the five (as well as several artists aiming to set the decor theme at LTO). Vote with a click here. And may the best one win!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Fort Worth chef Tim Love, on his new reality show

Tim Love and Joe Bastianich

Restaurant Startup, a new reality series airing its second episode tonight on CNBC, is kind of a culinary version of Shark Tank, where two famed restaurateurs decide whether to invest their own money in a particular concept. But rather than featuring Dallas’ Mark Cuban, this show stars Fort Worth chef Tim Love, alongside Joe Bastianich. Each episode begins with two teams pitch their ideas and possibly launching a pop-up  version of their concept.

Tim and Joe sat down for a joint interview, and here’s some of what they had to say.

Question: You guys can be pretty rough sometimes. What was it about the premise of the show that appealed to you, made you want to be involved? Did CNBC basically come to you and pitch the show to you similar to the way the wanna-be restaurants did and if so did you make the people at CNBC cry or stammer during the negotiations?

Joe Bastianich: I think it’s an opportunity to take an inside look at a very unique business that not many people understand it and combine a lot of things that people are very passionate about: great hospitality, food, money in the restaurant business, what it takes to be successful in the hospitality industry [and] show the inner workings.

Tim Love: The show itself is really a completely different look at a food show, which is really what interested me. I have a big passion for the business side of the food and wine world and I spoke with Joe about doing the show and he has the same kind of outlook. There’s a lot of shows out there that talk about the drama of whether or not you can make a blah-blah. But really, this show is about whether or not you can build an actual restaurant and the inner workings of how that even happens.

So we feel like this show is going to really expose a new material to people and understanding of really the start to finish of how you might operate a restaurant and how that comes to fruition because, quite frankly, these days it’s almost impossible to have a restaurant without getting an investor, and this gives us an opportunity to show people that not only works but also gives Joe and I an opportunity to maybe invest in something we feel like can be really great.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Bobby Flay casting new Food Network show, seeks Dallas contestants

The Food Network is casting a new reality show with Bobby Flay, and is looking for home cooks from Dallas to audition.

The show — which sounds very similar to Fox’s MasterChef, which last season featured gay North Texas cook Ben Starr — wants those who have great recipes and dinner parties to prove themselves. And because they are looking for teams, a gay couple seems a slam-dunk. To apply, email BobbysBestHomeCookDallas@gmail.com no later than Aug. 1 with your name (and your teammate’s), recent photos of both, a short bio of you both, explain why you are a great chef (and include photos of your food) and describe the best parties you have thrown. You can also learn more about the show here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The good, the bad & the ‘A-List’

These arts, cultural & sports stories defined gay Dallas in 2011

FASHIONS AND FORWARD  |  The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

FASHIONS AND FORWARD | The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

A lot of eyes were focused on Dallas nationally in 2011 — for good and bad — but much of what made the city a fun place last year has specific queer appeal. CULTURE The rise of the reality TV star. 2011 was the year Dallas made a big splash across everyone’s television sets — and it had nothing to do with who shot J.R. (although that’s pending). From the culinary to the conniving, queer Dallasites were big on the small screen. On the positive side were generally good portrayals of gay Texans. Leslie Ezelle almost made it all the way in The Next Design Star, while The Cake Guys’ Chad Fitzgerald is still in contention on TLC’s The Next Great Baker. Lewisville’s Ben Starr was a standout on MasterChef. On the web, Andy Stark, Debbie Forth and Brent Paxton made strides with Internet shows Bear It All, LezBeProud and The Dallas Life,respectively.

‘A’ to Z  |  ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

‘A’ to Z | ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

There were downsides, though. Drew Ginsburg served as the token gay on Bravo’s teeth-clenching Most Eligible: Dallas, and the women on Big Rich Texas seemed a bit clichéd. But none were more polarizing than the cast of Logo’s The A-List: Dallas. Whether people loved or hated it, the six 20somethings (five gays, one girl) reflected stereotypes that made people cringe. Gaultier makes Dallas his runway. The Dallas Museum of Art scored a coup, thanks to couture. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk not only featured the work of the famed designer, but was presented the designs in an innovative manner. Nothing about it was stuffy. Seeing his iconic designs in person is almost a religious experience — especially when its Madonna’s cone bra. Gaultier reminded us that art is more than paintings on a wall. (A close runner-up: The Caravaggio exhibit in Fort Worth.) The Return of Razzle Dazzle. ­­There was speculation whether Razzle Dazzle could actually renew itself after a near-decade lull, but the five-day spectacular was a hallmark during National Pride Month in June, organized by the Cedar Springs Merchant Association. The event started slowly with the wine walk but ramped up to the main event street party headlined by rapper Cazwell. Folding in the MetroBall with Deborah Cox, the dazzle had returned with high-profile entertainment and more than 10,000 in attendance on the final night. A Gathering pulled it together. TITAS executive director Charles Santos took on the daunting task of producing A Gathering, a collective of area performance arts companies, commemorating 30 years of AIDS. Groups such as the Dallas Opera, Turtle Creek Chorale and Dallas Theater Center donated their time for this one-of-a-kind show with all proceeds benefiting Dallas’ leading AIDS services organizations. And it was worth it. A stirring night of song, dance and art culminated in an approximate 1,000 in attendance and $60,000 raised for local charities. Bravo, indeed. The Bronx closed after 35 years. Cedar Springs isn’t short on its institutions, but when it lost The Bronx, the gayborhood felt a real loss. For more than three decades, the restaurant was home to many Sunday brunches and date nights in the community. We were introduced to Stephan Pyles there, and ultimately, we just always figured on it being there as part of the fabric of the Strip. A sister company to the neighboring Warwick Melrose bought the property with rumors of expansion. But as yet, the restaurant stands steadfast in its place as a reminder of all those memories that happened within its walls and on its plates.  The Omni changed the Dallas skyline. In November, The Omni Dallas hotel opened the doors to its 23-story structure and waited to fill it’s 1,000 rooms to Dallas visitors and staycationers. Connected to the Dallas Convention Center, the ultra-modern hotel is expected to increase the city’s convention business which has the Dallas Visitors and Conventions Bureau salivating — as they should. The hotel brought modern flair to a booming Downtown and inside was no different. With quality eateries and a healthy collection of art, including some by gay artists Cathey Miller and Ted Kincaid, the Omni quickly became a go-to spot for those even from Dallas. SPORTS The Super Bowl came to town. Although seeing the Cowboys make Super Bowl XLV would have been nice for locals, the event itself caused a major stir, both good and bad. Ticketing issues caused a commotion with some disgruntled buyers and Jerry Jones got a bad rap for some disorganization surrounding the game. But the world’s eyes were on North Texas as not only the game was of a galactic measure, but the celebs were too. From Kardashians to Ke$ha to Kevin Costner, parties and concerts flooded the city and the streets. The gays even got in on the action. Despite crummy weather, the Super Street Party was billed as the “world’s first ever gay Super Bowl party.” The ice and snow had cleared out and the gays came out, (and went back in to the warmer clubs) to get their football on. The XLV Party at the Cotton Bowl included a misguided gay night with acts such as Village People, Lady Bunny and Cazwell that was ultimately canceled. The Mavericks won big. The Mavs are like the boyfriend you can’t let go of because you see how much potential there is despite his shortcomings. After making the playoffs with some just-misses, the team pulled through to win against championship rivals, Miami Heat, who beat them in 2006. In June, the team cooled the Heat in six games, taking home its first NBA Championship, with Dirk Nowitzki appropriately being named MVP. The Rangers gave us faith. Pro sports ruled big in these parts. The Mavericks got us in the mood for championships and the Texas Rangers almost pulled off a victory in the World Series. With a strong and consistent showing for the season, the Rangers went on to defend their AL West Division pennant. Hopes were high as they handily defeated the Detroit Tigers in game six, but lost the in the seventh game. Although it was a crushing loss, the Texas Rangers proved why we need to stand by our men.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Local ‘MasterChef’ contestant Ben Starr booted

Ben Starr started off last night’s episode of MasterChef in a high — he won his first “mystery box” challenge, which gave him a leg-up in the elimination challenge: In re-creating one of host Gordon Ramsay’s signature dishes, he both chose the venison and was given the opportunity to ask Ramsay questions about how to prepare it.

Didn’t help. Starr virtually boiled the meat in a 200-degree butter broth, rather than slowly poaching it before a final seer. The resulting product was a gray mess that god Starr eliminated, finishing No. 5.

The nicest thing about the elimination was the sincere way Ramsay broke the news, saying he fully expected Starr to make it to the top 2, and commenting on his personal fondness for Starr.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Reality TV roundup: Dallas playas and the gaying of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’

Two gay North Texans on original summer programming reality shows are continuing to thrive.

Lewisville’s Ben Starr and  Dallas’ Leslie Ezelle have been standouts on their respective series — Starr on Fox’s MasterChef and Ezelle on HGTV’s Design Star.  Starr was a top-three finisher in this week’s episode on Tuesday, while Ezelle made a strong impression Week 1 of Design Star and has never been in the bottom of the pack since. (Another Dallasite, local chef Carrie, has been most known as the object of hatred among her team on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen.)

The rest of the summer’s reality life will continue to gay it up: Local pastry chef  Lina Biancamano, who works in the kitchen at Stephan Pyles, is a contestant on Top Chef: Just Desserts starting next month, and the series Most Eligible: Dallas debuts in three weeks on Bravo. And tonight on Lifetime, the new season of Project Runway premieres.

But what has really interested me this summer on reality TV has been the rotating guest judges on So You Think You Can Dance. A few seasons back, senior judge and exec producer Nigel Lythgoe took it on the chin for making comments perceived as homophobic — an odd claim, considering that SYTYCD has among the gayest (though least out) cast of contestants on reality TV (as well as many gays behind the scenes.)

Maybe that controversy led to Lythgoe intentionally gaying up the lineup this season. Starting with the mass auditions, guest judges this season have been gay choreographers Adam Shankman and Jason Gilkison. Then during the live elimination weeks, the first round of judges included gay faves Megan Mullally, Kristin Chenoweth and Debbie Reynolds, then in the past three weeks the 1-2-3-4 punch of Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Neil Patrick Harris (pictured), Rob Marshall and Lady Gaga. All have made pretty out-there comments for the family-friendly show. “Do you have a boyfriend?” Ferguson asked one of the female dancers. “So do I,” he said. Harris joked that one girl was so good even he was attracted to her, and last night Gaga joked that she “loves a queen” … and she wasn’t talking about Elizabeth II.  Can’t wait to see who’s up next to judge.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

PHOTOS: ‘MasterChef’ Ben Starr’s culinary journey started in Abilene with Rocky the Rooster

In Friday’s print edition, we had a story about Ben Starr, who’s on the current season of MasterChef and doing quite well, thank you very much. But before he was a TV celeb, he was a goofy poor kid from Abilene who liked to cook. Below are some pictures he has shared with us from his culinary past‚ as well as some commentary from Starr himself. The next episode of MasterChef airs tonight on Fox.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones