I had a great time participating in the Sweetest Chefs of the South event in Jackson, Mississippi for Eat Y'all, to raise funds for the Mississippi Culinary Arts Guild. The night was all about desserts and culinary divas from around the Southeast and we had a ton of fun getting to know pastry chefs from the region, including MasterChef season 1 winner, Whitney Miller.

Since it was in Jackson and 100 degrees in the shade in the summer, I decided to stay away from the chocolate and the ice cream I really wanted to do and make my One Bite Banana Pudding... and while we faced extreme heat and a few challenges with the kitchen and equipment we did not know, we managed to pull of a divine little banana pudding bite that guests seemed to love.

Get my recipe for these Banana Pudding Bites... you'll love them! Even though they slightly complicated compared to a typical banana pudding, they're so adorable, your guests will rave! BANANA PUDDING BITE RECIPE


What a weekend of great food events across Alabama!

It started on Friday with the first ever Alabama Gulf Seafood Cookoff held in Montgomery as the kickoff to the Southern Maker's weekend. I was Emcee for the event held during the VIP party at the magnificent E.A.T. South Farm facility in downtown Montgomery. The cook-off was created to find the best seafood chef to represent Alabama in the Great American Seafood Cook-off. Invited chefs submitted a recipe utilizing Alabama Gulf seafood for consideration. After the judges deliberated and voted, four finalists were selected.

From left: Alabama Gulf Seafood Chairman Jim Smith, Chefs Miguel Figueroa, Chef Brandon Burleson, Chef George Reis, and Chef Brody Olive at the First Annual Alabama Gulf Seafood Cook-off.

From left: Alabama Gulf Seafood Chairman Jim Smith, Chefs Miguel Figueroa, Chef Brandon Burleson, Chef George Reis, and Chef Brody Olive at the First Annual Alabama Gulf Seafood Cook-off.

Finalists then competed in the cook-off with their submitted recipes; each chef was allowed one sous chef to assist and each two-man team had one hour to complete their dish and present it to the judges. They were:

Brandon Burleson, Executive Sous Chef, Voyager's Restaurant at Perdido Beach Resort, Perdido Beach, Alabama presented Pecan and Herb Crusted Red Snapper.

Miguel Figueroa, Executive Chef, The A&P Social and Kudzu Noodle Bar, Montgomery, Alabama presented Roasted Red Snapper, Royal Red Shrimp, Braised Mushrooms, Corn Butter, and Collard Green Gnocchi.

Brody Olive, Executive Chef for Spectrum Resorts properties located on Alabama's Gulf Coast including Turquoise Place, The Beach Club, and Caribe Resort presented Pan Roasted Alabama Cobia with Toasted Cumin and Coriander Bayou la Batre Crab, Blistered Okra, Honeysuckle Scented Corn Puree, Pea Shoots and Pickled Okra Seeds.

George Reis: Owner/Executive Chef, Ocean Restaurant, Birmingham, Alabama presented Cumin Coriander Crusted Grouper with Smoked Alabama Shrimp Sausage, English Pea Hummus, Sand Mountain Tomato Jam Pickled Carrots, Radishes and Preserved Lemon Oil. Chef Reis is also featured in my Birmingham's Best Bites cookbook for a different Grouper recipe. Try that one if you have purchased the cookbook! Order it now from Amazon.com

In the end, Chef Reis' outstanding grouper recipe was selected as the winner and Chef Burleson came in second. All of the dishes were absolutely fantastic. Congratulations to the chefs and Alabama Gulf Seafood for another stellar event. I'll post recipes for you in the coming weeks. I hope you'll cook them at home or stop in to visit these fine chefs at their restaurants if you have the opportunity!


I am honored to announce that I'm part of the celebrity tastemakers panel for this year's MUNCHIES PEOPLE'S CHOICE FOOD AWARDS sponsored by General Mills. Although I have no formal culinary training, I certainly am an expert on good food-- I've eaten my way around the country in the past several years or so. The Munchies celebrates the best in food from the best burger to the best food city...and you get to decide the winners!

Do you love Chopped or Food Network Star? Can't get enough of Michael Symon on The Chew or the evil Alton Brown on Cutthroat Kitchen? If Ina is your kitchen inspiration or you've made every single recipe in Dana Cowin's new cookbook, here's how to help them win a 2015 Munchie People's Choice Award!

I've teamed up with General Mills and Andrew Zimmern for the 2015 Munchies People's Choice Awards! Thanks to Arden Photography for the fab headshot.

I've teamed up with General Mills and Andrew Zimmern for the 2015 Munchies People's Choice Awards! Thanks to Arden Photography for the fab headshot.

As you probably know, I spend most of my time on the road and eat out a lot. As part of the celebrity tastemaker panel, I was asked to nominate some of my favorite places for this year's awards. A total of 43 food experts shared our culinary perspectives to determine the 100 nominees. See the full list of panelists here...

We picked the finalists. Now, it is up to you to decide the winners. Vote daily through March 31st, 2015. We'll be eliminating nominees three times during the voting period (March 8th, March 15th, March 22nd and the final round March 31st), which means your votes matter!


Best Food Competition TV Show

  • Chopped, Food Network
  • Iron Chef America, Food Network
  • Knife Fight, Esquire Network
  • Food Network Star, Food Network
  • The Taste, ABC

Best Food TV Personality

  • Alton Brown, Cutthroat Kitchen, Food Network
  • Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown, CNN
  • Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics, Food Network
  • Michael Symon, The Chew, ABC
  • Mo Rocca, My Grandmother's Ravioli, Cooking Channel

Best Chef

  • Ashley Christensen, Poole's Diner, Raleigh, NC
  • Hugh Acheson, Five & Ten, Athens, GA
  • Ignacio Mattos, Estela, New York, NY
  • Jamie Bissonette, Toro, Boston, MA  
  • Paul Kahan, Blackbird, Chicago, IL

Best Food Blog or Site

  • Food Republic
  • I Am a Food Blog
  • Perennial Plate
  • Serious Eats
  • Smitten Kitchen

Best New Cookbook

  • Flour and Water: Pasta, Thomas McNaughton, Ten Speed Press  
  • Heritage, Sean Brock, Artisan
  • Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen, Dana Cowin, Ecco
  • My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories, David Lebovitz, Ten Speed Press
  • Plenty More, Yotom Ottolenghi, Ten Speed Press

Best Food Magazine

  • Bon Appetit, Conde Nast
  • Cherry Bombe
  • Food & Wine
  • Lucky Peach
  • Saveur, Bonnier Corporation

Best Pizza

  • DiFara Pizza, Brooklyn, NY
  • Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix, AZ
  • Pizzeria Lola, Minneapolis, MN
  • Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles, CA
  • Pizzeria Vetri, Philadelphia, PA

Best Burger

  • Au Cheval, Chicago, IL
  • The Company Burger, New Orleans, LA
  • Father's Office, Los Angeles, CA
  • Holeman and Finch Public House, Atlanta, GA
  • Minetta Tavern, New York, NY

Best BBQ

  • Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX
  • Kreuz Market, Lockhart, TX
  • Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint, Nashville, TN
  • Mighty Quinn's Barbeque, New York, NY
  • Scott's Bar-B-Que, Hemingway, SC

Best Steak

  • Doe's Eat Place, Greenville, MS
  • Gibsons Steakhouse, Chicago, IL
  • Keens Steakhouse, New York, NY
  • Lonesome Dove, Fort Worth TX
  • Peter Luger Steak House, Brooklyn, NY

Best Taco

  • Big Star, Chicago, IL
  • Empellon Taqueria, New York, NY
  • Guerrilla Tacos, Los Angeles, CA
  • Mas Tacos Por Favor, Nashville, TN
  • Taqueria del Sol, Atlanta, GA

Best Ramen

  • Daikokuya, Los Angeles, CA
  • Ippudo, New York, NY
  • Ivan Ramen, New York, NY
  • Ramen Tatsu-ya, Austin, TX
  • Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle, Los Angeles, CA

Best Donut

  • Dough, Brooklyn, NY
  • Doughnut Plant, New York, NY
  • Doughnut Vault, Chicago, IL
  • Federal Donuts, Philadelphia, PA
  • Glam Doll Donuts, Minneapolis, MN

Best Ice Cream

  • Ample Hills Creamery, Brooklyn, NY
  • Big Gay Ice Cream, New York, NY
  • Bi-Rite Creamery San Francisco, CA
  • Graeter's, Cincinnati, OH
  • Salt & Straw, Portland, OR

Best Sandwich Spot

  • Cochon Butcher, New Orleans, LA
  • Katz's Delicatessen, New York, NY
  • Porchetta, New York, NY
  • Robert's Western World, Nashville, TN
  • Zingerman's Deli, Ann Arbor, MI

Best Coffee Shop

  • Blue Bottle Coffee, Oakland, CA
  • Crema, Nashville, TN
  • La Colombe, Philadelphia, PA
  • Panther Coffee, Miami, FL
  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Portland, OR

Best Food Truck

  • Biscuit Love Truck, Nashville, TN
  • East Side King, Austin, TX
  • King of Pops, Atlanta, GA
  • Kogi BBQ Truck, Los Angeles, CA
  • Nong's Khao Man Gai, Portland, OR

Best Craft Brewery

  • Bell's Brewery, Kalamazoo, MI
  • Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
  • Goose Island, Chicago, IL
  • Sixpoint Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
  • Surly Brewing Co., Minneapolis, MN

Best Cocktail Bar

  • Cure, New Orleans, LA
  • Marvel Bar, Minneapolis, MN
  • Pegu Club, New York, NY
  • The Aviary, Chicago, IL
  • Trick Dog, San Francisco, CA

Best Food City

  • Chicago, IL
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Portland, OR
  • San Francisco, CA