Heading up the judging panel of COOKING UNDER FIRE is Ming Tsai, celebrity chef and host of the award-winning PBS series SIMPLY MING. In his role guiding the 12 aspiring chefs, he hopes to connect with the audience's fascination with great food, restaurants and the entire dining experience, giving them behind-the-scenes access and insight into the culinary world.
Ming's passion for food was forged in his early years working in his family's restaurant, and although he earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Yale, he never strayed far from the kitchen. After spending a summer studying at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, he went on to train under such greats as renowned pastry chef Pierre Hermé and sushi master Kobayashi, and receive a master's degree in hotel administration and hospitality marketing from Cornell. Bringing his dream to reality in 1998, Ming and his wife Polly opened the doors to the highly acclaimed Blue Ginger, a bistro-style restaurant dedicated to East-West cuisine in the Boston suburb of Wellesley, Massachusetts. Ming began cooking for television audiences on the Food Network, where he was the 1998 Emmy-winning host of East Meets West, Cooking with Ming Tsai and Ming's Quest. In addition to television, Ming is also the author of three cookbooks, including Blue Ginger: East Meets West Cooking with Ming Tsai (now in its 8th edition and selected by Food and Wine magazine as one of 1999's 25 best cookbooks), Simply Ming, and Ming's Master Recipes. Thanks to a partnership with Target stores, home cooks have the chance to experiment and create their own versions of Ming's East-West fare, with Ming's Blue Ginger line of quality cookware and delicious Asian-inspired ingredients and snack foods. Ming was also honored by Esquire Magazine as "Chef of the Year 1998," and The James Beard Foundation crowned him as the "2002 Best Chef in the Northeast."
See Ming's recipe for Crispy Butterflied Shrimp with Orange-Yuzu Syrup
For more information about Ming Tsai see www.ming.com.
Knowing firsthand the challenging road facing aspiring chefs and the skills and passion needed to succeed, Todd looks forward not only to recognizing the spark and cultivating the talents of the contestants through the COOKING UNDER FIRE competition, but also to continuing mentoring as the winner takes on the role of chef in one of his Manhattan restaurants.
Professionally trained at the Culinary Institute of America and through apprenticeships in both New York and Italy, Todd caught the culinary world's eye when The James Beard Foundation named him their "National Rising Star Chef" in 1991, and then "Best Chef in the Northeast" in 1994. A remarkably successful restaurateur — and Bon Appetit's 2001 "Restaurateur of the Year" — Todd's numerous establishments can be found throughout the world, including Olives, one of the most prestigious restaurant brands in the nation (plus a Tokyo location). His most recent ventures include the restaurant Todd English on the Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 and BlueZoo at the Walt Disney World Resort's Dolphin Hotel. His first venture for 2005 — called English — is located in New York City. In addition to a myriad of appearances on the broadcast networks and cable, English's television credits include his public television series Cooking In with Todd English, produced by Connecticut Public Television, WGBH's Hot Off the Grill, and public television's America's Rising Star Chefs. Todd has just been named to The James Beard Foundation's "Who's Who in Food and Beverage in America," and has authored the critically acclaimed cookbooks The Olives Table, The Figs Table, and The Olives Dessert Table, published by Simon & Schuster.
See Todd's recipe for Corn and Clam Chowder
For more information about Todd English see www.toddenglish.com.
Like author Michael Ruhlman's own foray into the culinary world, COOKING UNDER FIRE's contestants come from varying professions and walks of life. But also like Michael, they have the drive to follow their passion while exploring the positive effect that effort can have on other aspects of life.
After graduating from Duke University and stints in journalism and odd jobs, Michael — a devoted amateur cook since fourth grade — proposed to the Culinary Institute of America, the oldest and most influential professional cooking school in the country, that he be allowed into its kitchen classrooms in order to write a narrative of how the school trains professional chefs. The school agreed, and he wrote The Making of a Chef (1997). Michael became so fascinated by the work of the professional cook and the culture of the restaurant kitchen that he continued to pursue the work, punching a clock briefly as a line cook, then writing a book about chefs and cooking, The Soul of a Chef (2000). Michael co-wrote The French Laundry Cookbook (2000) with Thomas Keller at the same time, and they subsequently wrote a food column for the Los Angeles Times for two years and, last year, Bouchon, a book about perfecting French bistro cuisine. He also wrote A Return to Cooking (2002) with Eric Ripert, chef-owner of Le Bernardin, the Manhattan four-star restaurant. Michael continues to live in Cleveland and is currently working on a cookbook with Brian Polcyn on charcuterie for the home cook — a love song to the pig, to animal fat, and to salt, sausages, confits, patés, and terrines.
For more information about Michael Ruhlman see www.ruhlman.com.