Yes that’s right, I had lunch at the food network today – and it was awesome. It was part of winning a scholarship sweepstakes from the Food Network to attend culinary school. I entered on a whim last summer and got an email two months later to congratulate me – crazy right? I never win anything.
The Food Network studio is located in the same building as New York City’s Chelsea Market (which is a great place to shop for cooking ingredients, produce, spices, seafood, and Italian specialties). I was allowed to bring a guest, so Matt came along with me. Myself, Matt, and the three other winners and their guests all met in the lobby. We were escorted to the Food Network test kitchens. One of the staff introduced himself and told us about what they do and what is filmed is their test kitchen (Bobby Flay Throw Down for one). They not only create and test recipes, they do all of the prep work for food on the cooking shows.
We were seated at a long table, basically right in the kitchen where we could watch them working. Some of the chefs were cooking our food, and some were busy recipe testing. I saw a few familiar faces from spots on TV and from my Food Network Test Kitchen recipe book – very cool.
The chef who gave us the introduction then announced the courses we were to be offered. First course was a chicken croquette. Incredibly succulent for chicken, in fact it tasted more like pork – well seasoned and crispy on the outside. Second course was beet ravioli with goat cheese garnished with microgreens. This course was beautiful. They used thinly shaved beet to create the “ravioli” so there was not actual pasta. The goat cheese with herbs went nicely with the beet, not only in taste, but as a stark white contrast to the deep purple beet. I’m not a beet person – but I cleaned my plate.
Third and main course we had a choice between rack of lamb or black striped bass. I chose the later, as did most of the people at the table. We all raved about the bass – it was wonderful! Juicy and and moist on the inside with crispy skin on the outside. I ate every bit and wished there was more. The bass was served with a reduction sauce and sides of pommes anna (a type of fancy potato cake) and roasted vegetables. Pommes anna is a bit heavy for me, lots of butter involved, so I skipped, but the rest of my plate was cleaned happily.
Dessert was a Meyer lemon tart, topped with whipped cream and a slice of sugared lemon. A nice sweet and tart way to follow the heavier entree. Our beverage was tea sweetened with lychee juice, and rolls were offered as well. I was very impressed with the meal and ate practically everything!
Afterward, we were taken on a tour of the production studio. This is where shows like Rachel Ray, Iron Chef America, Emeril, and Alton Brown are filmed. We watched as the directors, producers, and set designers put finishing touches on a kitchen set for a new food network show. The new chef, a former student from the culinary school I attend, stood by to test counter height, equipment, etc. The sounds rooms and video editing rooms were perched above the studio for a good view of the set.
Before parting, we were given gifts! A Food Network Test Kitchens cookbook, and key chain. The whole experience was something to remember. I still have a smile on my face.