Chef Tyler Florence is a familiar face on the Food Network, thanks to shows like Food 911 and Tyler's Ultimate. Though he's had plenty of training and years of practice, he is able to make cooking seem easy. Tyler recently took a few minutes to answer some of our questions!
Q: Which kitchen appliances and gadgets should every home cook own?
A:I think that everybody needs a stick blender. Chefs use them all of the time, myself included, and I find that people generally leave them off of their gadget list. (Editor's Note: I LOVE my Cuisinart immersion blender. Expect a blog post on immersion blenders soon!)
Q: When you're short on time, what meals do you prepare for your family?
A: I always try to keep on hand some premade and then frozen pasta sauces to have ready in a pinch. Boil up some pasta, heat up your homemade sauce, and pop in some delicious garlic bread, and you've got a great meal, time crunch or not.
Q: We're big fans of your work, starting with "Food 911." Short of going on such a show, what advice would you offer someone who is clueless in the kitchen?
A: Set yourself up for success. You won't make it happen in your kitchen if you don't have the right tools, and that goes for your kitchen gear as well as your food items. Get the right pots and pans, knives and tools to make life easy on yourself, and you're off to a good start.
Q: What small changes can we make to serve healthier food without sacrificing taste?
A: Use fresh ingredients whenever possible. Stay away from packaged and pre-prepared foods. Of course, you can do simple things like use skinless chicken, use a little olive oil instead of butter and use a lot of vegetables to balance out your meals. But of all things, I'd say portion size is the thing most people seem to ignore. Everything in moderation, right?
Q: You've got three children. How do you raise adventurous, healthy eaters?
A: I launched a baby food company called Sprout to address this very question. Babies begin to develop their lifelong tastes for foods as soon as they venture away from milk. If you introduce pure, fresh flavorts to them from the beginning--not processed, artificial foods and sugar-laden products--they will develop a taste for natural, healthy flavors and they'll be on the right patch to not just adventurous but healthy eating practices.
Q:We hear frequently from readers that they need help learning to like vegetables and other healthy foods. How do you prepare vegetables that are healthy and tasty?
A:Vegetables have a lot of natural flavor that people don't often reach to discover. Play with some cooking techniques and add flavors that are complementary without being too unhealthy. For example, sauté your broccoli with some garlic and olive oil instead of drowning it with processed cheese sauce. I think you'll like it.
Q:What about meat? Grilled chicken breasts and turkey burgers quickly get dull.
A: If your turkey burger is boring, build yourself an adventurous burger bar. Create a bunch of delicious toppings for your burger, like tomatoes with sea salt, olive oil and chives, chili ketchup, sautéed mushrooms, and herbed horseradish mayonnaise.
Q: How can people eat meat when they're watching calories?
A: Again, control your portions and use lean proteins. Don't overdo it, and you can still enjoy a little bit of your favorite meats.
Q:What cooking techniques should they use?
A: Grilling and roasting are great ways to cook without using any added oils or fats.
Tyler Florence has teamed up with Macy's for a series of podcasts and a cooking contest called Macy's Keeps America Cooking. If you like to cook, submit a video and try to win a trip for two to San Francisco for a $2,500 kitchen shopping spree with Tyler!
What questions do you have for other famous chefs and cooks? Do you have a kitchen conundrum?