Chopped host Ted Allen's tips for a simple, classic holiday party

December 2015
By: The Examiner

G: Since you haven’t been to Salt Lake City --- yet --- what are your favorite cities to eat in?

TA:  I hear Salt Lake is very nice, beautiful city, with lots more to do.

I don’t really have a favorite, there are so many. One trend I love is in every mid size city you can find more artisanal restaurants and options now. I love Columbus, Ohio. Nashville is hot. San Francisco always has great food and artistic chefs, and John Besh who has 12 restaurants, 10 in New Orleans, he is killing it. I love Rome to eat, New York, Paris isn’t terrible, and I had an amazing organic burger in Indiana. Nice grass fed meats. People love the American food trends. Tradition.

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Holiday leftovers are main dishes of the future

December 2015
By: Andy Macdonald, Lagniappe Weekly

My favorite holiday has come and gone. Everyone I missed has returned safely from trips to Macy’s and Sandinista Thanksgiving dinners, the former complete with ice skating and record-breaking NYC crowds, the latter with sparsely crowded beaches, cloudless skies and no sign of cornbread dressing anywhere. 

I made it back from a fruitful trip to Laurel, Mississippi, where my brother and I joined forces to fry only two turkeys this year. It was not without incident. We’d become a little cocky about the task since we had no responsibility to anyone but ourselves, and a couple of things were overlooked. 

In last-minute preparation, we stupidly forgot to inject turkey Number 1. I remembered as soon as the bird was submerged in the peanut oil (the oil I got at the last minute, as we mistakenly thought we had plenty the week before). About 10 minutes into a 33-minute fry for an 11-pound hen, the flame extinguished. We’d run out of propane. We tried another tank hoping there’d be enough juice to get us to our internal temperature goal of 165 degrees, but this tank wouldn’t even hiss.Of course the centerpiece, the turkey, can be incorporated to millions of dishes. Tetrazzini is one of my favorites. Turkey, rice and cheese casserole is a good comfort food. Pot pie is always a crowd pleaser, and if you make it from scratch be sure to use a light roux. But if you decide to make turkey gumbo, a darker roux is a must. I go for a lot of lighter roux gumbos these days but the turkey gumbo deserves a darker roux. As a matter of fact, I am enjoying mine now, which I just made based on the latest John Besh cookbook, “Besh Big Easy.” It is amazing. 

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Charitable And Socially-Conscious Holiday Gifts

December 2015
By: Sasha Levine, Departures 

John Besh & Billy Reid Apron

The stylish apron has become something of a bar- and cook-wear staple these days, where handsome, if slightly impractical designs in leather, denim, linen, and other fine materials are brandished by top bartenders and chefs alike (just look at Jenn Louis of Portland’s Lincoln restaurant and Jeff Bell of New York’s PDT for inspiration). The latest incarnation, from chef John Besh and designer Billy Reid, does one better by adding an altruistic perk. Twenty-two percent of proceeds from sales of their brand-new selvedge edged chambray apron (with copper hardware, leather cording, and a recipe for a Sazerac cocktail printed inside), totaling roughly $20, goes to benefit the John Besh Foundation, the chef’s nonprofit that aims to protecting and preserving the culinary heritage of New Orleans and the larger Gulf Coast region by funding culinary scholarships for local minority communities and providing microloans to farmers and artisanal producers. $95

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9 last-minute cooking tips to ensure you're ready when holiday guests arrive

December 23, 2015

By: Karen B. Gibbs, TODAY.com

You try your best to host the perfect family Christmas dinner, so why are you frazzled and way too busy when your guests arrive? My friend, it's because of mistakes you don't even know you're making. We asked nationally acclaimed chefs John Besh and Alon Shaya for advice on the subject and learned that the source of many cooking goofs is POOR PLANNING. Considering these top chefs turn out hundreds of delectable meals a day, their recipe for success is worth following.

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John Besh’s Day-After-Thanksgiving Turkey Gumbo

November 27, 2015
By: Addy Broyles, Austin360

Leftover turkey can be used for pot pies, casseroles, pho or fried rice, but John Besh’s favorite way to eat it is — no surprise — gumbo.

The Louisiana chef, who recently published “Besh Big Easy: 101 Home Cooked New Orleans Recipes” (Andrews McMeel, $25), says he makes this particular version just about every year.

Get the recipe here

Black Friday Explained

November 25, 2015
By: TIm McNally, My New Orleans

I have long been confused by the name and the concept of Black Friday. I don’t remember such a day during my youth, and now that I am in my oldth, the reference is everywhere this time of year.

In tracking down the origin of the title "Black Friday," I note where Philadelphia in the early '60s is credited as Ground Zero for the name, which refers to the period and the particular day when some retailers actually move into the “black” on their ledger sheets. They start making money instead of the way it was going.

John Besh "Besh Big Easy" – Chef Besh has gathered 101 recipes here, which are easy and the instructions are to the point. Here are suggestions for the dinner table, a quick lunch and hearty fare at the camp. Besh is a talented culinary genius in love with his hometown and a desire to share. It does not come any better than that. Under $25, soft-cover, at Octavia, Kitchen Witch, Garden District at The Rink, Maple Street and other local book stores or on Amazon.

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Create a bounty of flavors with Thanksgiving leftovers

November 25, 2015
By: Seattle Times staff

Some cooks prefer the Thanksgiving meal with its generous platters and long, festive table. Others are impatient for the after-party, the prospect of raiding the fridge at midnight, or the anticipated snack the next day, when the bounty is neatly packed away.

Regardless of where you fall, one thing is certain: Leftovers are a given. Embrace them.

Of course, after you’ve spent the better part of a week preparing for the big meal, you may not be in the mood for another complex cooking project. If it’s just the immediate family having a grazing free-for-all, picking at congealed turkey parts and condiments, alternating with forkfuls of cold stuffing, that’s one thing, and it’s perfectly fine.

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The best books of 2015 for hungry travelers to give and receive

December 4, 2015
By: Emily Saladino, USA Today

According to 19th-century French novelist Gustave Flaubert, and anyone who has ever waited for a piping hot burrito to cool to an edible temperature, anticipation increases pleasure. Maybe that's why we love cookbooks and food writing so much. For dedicated imbibers, the only thing better than eating or drinking something spectacular is planning one's next great indulgence. As we enter a month dedicated to gift-giving and epicurean extravagance, we culled the best food and beverage books of the year to help you prolong the joys of the season. As Flaubert might have said, A votre sante, dear readers.

“Besh Big Easy is a deliberate paperback,” New Orleans chef John Besh writes in the introduction to his fourth and latest tome. “I don’t want it sitting on your coffee table, I want it well-used in your kitchen.” (And, hey, who are we to argue?)  

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Thanksgiving in 3 Hours or Less: No-Stress Recipes for Easy Feastin

November 20, 2015
By: Elizabeth G. Dunn, The Wall Street Journal

MANY NOVEMBERS, I happily while away the better part of a week executing a Thanksgiving dinner strategy whose depth and precision could have won Napoleon Waterloo. There are notebooks brimming with timelines and shopping lists, deep dives into the relative merits of various turkey breeds, signature cocktails, canapés, course-by-course wine pairings and decorative gourds galore.

This is not one of those Novembers.

While I can rest easy outsourcing the likes of green-bean casserole and mashed potatoes, I wouldn’t dream of ceding control of the dressing—the sine qua non, to my mind, of a Thanksgiving meal. New Orleans chef John Besh offered a recipe for his hearty, no-fuss sausage and country-bread version and suggested assembling it on Tuesday or Wednesday, thereby freeing up enough time day-of for a game of touch football (a Besh family tradition). “Dishes like these are actually better when they have a chance for the flavors to meld,” Mr. Besh said. Pop it in the oven just before dinner, while the turkey rests, so it hits the table hot with a perfectly crisp crust.

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10 Best ways to get your holiday groove on, New Orleans style

November 2015
By: USA Today

It may not be on everybody's top 10 Christmas song list, but in New Orleans, there's no better holiday tune than the brassy Christmas in New Orleans by Louis Armstrong, circa 1955. By Thanksgiving, the Crescent City pulls out all the stops with lights, glitter and holiday pageantry.  Visitors will find plenty of only-in-New Orleans ways to celebrate, kicking off with a month of Creole-inspired Reveillon dinners to towering bonfires that light up the bayou across and up the river.

Many of the parks around the city are filled with carolers during December, but the most spectacular spot has to be caroling in Jackson Square, usually the Sunday before Christmas. With St. Louis Cathedral as a backdrop, voices raised and candles glowing, there really is joy to the world.

4. Reveillon Dinners
Leave it to New Orleans to give an old Creole holiday custom a deliciously modern spin. In this historically Catholic city, Reveillon (French for awakening) dinners were elaborate family feasts served after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. A typical menu might include eggs sardou, turtle soup, oysters and grillades of veal, all accompanied by much toasting, well into the wee hours. Although the practice all but disappeared in the 1940s, local chefs, including John Besh and Emeril Lagasse, revived the celebration in the 1990s, and typically as many as 40 local restaurants offer seasonal holiday Reveillon menus during the month of December.

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A Showstopping, Savory Pumpkin Custard

November 2015
By: Pop Sugar

Roast turkey and maybe even a honey-glazed ham are a given at Thanksgiving, but what if you're a vegetarian or hosting one at your Thanksgiving table? Enter this showstopping pumpkin tian — essentially a savory custard — from John Besh's cookbook, Cooking From the Heart.

Far more simple to prepare than its dramatic presentation would suggest, this rich, eggy dish deserves a spot at your holiday table, dietary restrictions or not. I know I'll be giving it at least one more go this Fall.

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Two Great Recipes From Two New Cookbooks

November 2015
By: Colin Kearns, Field and Stream

If you’re like me, you enjoy cooking from cookbooks (I’m useless in the kitchen without some written instructions on the counter), and already this fall a couple new ones—both with Southern roots—have caught my eye.

First is Besh Big Easy: 101 Home Cooked New Orleans Recipes by John Besh—a great chef, and an enthusiastic hunter who has shared many wild-game recipes with F&S in the past. Besh runs some of the finest and nicest restaurants in New Orleans, but the recipes in this book are simple and soulful and geared toward the home cook. I attended a launch party for the cookbook a couple of months ago, and if the food they were serving (all from the cookbook) was any indication of the rest of the recipes, then this book belongs in the home of anyone who enjoys Cajun comfort food.

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Big Easy Comfort Food, Made Easier

November 17, 2015
By: June Naylor, Dallas Morning News

Way back when we first ate John Besh’s food at Artesia in Abita Springs, just north of New Orleans on the far side of Lake Pontchartrain, we were taken by the ease with which he conveys enthusiasm for the cuisine of his native Louisiana. Back then, and later at August restaurant in New Orleans, it was an elegant eating experience. Besh became impassioned about the Big Easy and found a way to expand his restaurant empire in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Twelve restaurants and four cookbooks later, Besh brings us to his present love of food and the place he inhabits like a well-worn, favorite pair of jeans. In Besh Big Easy: 101 Home Cooked New Orleans Recipes ($25, Andrews McMeel Publishing), the chef takes us to his home, describing how much it means to prepare this book from his writing nook where he looks out “at the very bayou that I grew up on, in the deep shadows of live oak trees hung with Spanish moss.” His appreciation for his roots has never been stronger, nor his food simpler.

Besh says that his three earlier books — each a heavy, glossy, hardcover tome — reflected the way he cooked at home then, which was often as a restaurant chef, using hard-to-find ingredients. Besh Big Easy, however, focuses on who he is now and how he cooks today for his family.

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Best of the Besh

November 11, 2015
By: Karen , Tasting Table

John Besh's 2009 cookbook, My New Orleans, was a deep dive into his hometown's rich food culture and history. It's a hefty work, weighing in at a whopping 384 pages and 200-plus nuanced, technique-driven recipes.

The chef's latest cookbook about the city where he now has 10 restaurants, Besh Big Easy ($25), focuses instead on the more comforting but still very NOLA-specific dishes he likes to cook at home.

"My New Orleans is a great book, but it was written at a time when I wanted to prove to the world that you could put 340 ingredients into a single dish," Besh says as he slices bananas for a boozy bananas Foster (see the recipe). "This new book is pared down to the simplicity my grandmother cooked with: There aren't highfalutin spices. It's really salt, pepper and a lot of love."

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John Besh wows with latest cookbook, visit to Mobile

November 11, 2015
By: Andy Macdonald, Lagniappe Weekly

The modern chef is used to, even expects, fame. Television channels devoted to shows about rising stars and competitive cooking have eroded our senses to the point we accept every chef needs a trophy room and multiple projects heavily promoted on the air. It’s all about the credentials.

But when you hear the name John Besh it really doesn’t conjure up the image of flash and flare. There’s no catchphrase, bleached hair or crazy sunglasses. Sure, he’s a TV star in an understated way.

His restaurant August was a bit of a renaissance for New Orleans-style dining. He’s a James Beard award winner. The Besh Foundation works to preserve our manner of eating here on the Gulf Coast and in his beloved New Orleans. In short, he has the credentials. But with his Southern charm and laid-back aura, he speaks more than most by saying less. He speaks with flavor.

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How A 240-Year-Old Brand Celebrates Its Birthday

November 10, 2015
By: Erik Passikoff, Media Post

Tomorrow is Veterans Day -- a celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. We salute them all. But today belongs to the United States Marines, on the 240th birthday of the Corps. 

Marine Corps birthday celebrations have both a history and a tradition, with a cake-cutting ceremony that would put your usual event marketers to shame. For this, a commanding officer cuts the cake with a Mameluke, a scimitar-like sword. The first piece goes to the oldest Marine present, then to the youngest. During the annual birthday celebration, Order No. 47 is read, which says in part, “it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.” 

Traditionally, but unofficially, Marines meet up on Nov. 10 to share a birthday meal or drink, with some celebrations a bit more expansive than others. Take, for example, chef and restaurateur John Besh, a Marine who served in Desert Storm. 

He and his fellow Marines found talking about real food more satisfying than eating their MREs (Meals Ready to Eat, which are self-contained, individual food rations Marines use in combat areas where cooking facilities are not available. Older Marines will know them as K-RATS and I can assure you haute cuisine they are not!).

His experience — and an adaptation to civilian life of small-unit Marine tactics — ultimately led to a large chain of 12 restaurants. And a coveted James Beard Award, and four cookbooks. Oh, and his small division, fire team, take-the-hill Marine training led to his setting up soup kitchens in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina when they were needed most. The leadership that is borne in every Marine led to the creation of the John Besh Foundation, which protects and preserve the culinary heritage and indigenous foods of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region through culinary scholarships and micro loans. Oorah!

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The Dish: Louisiana chef John Besh shares recipes from his new book

November 7, 2015
CBS This Morning

Chef John Besh is a native son of southern Louisiana and he's dedicated to its culinary riches and its traditions.

He left his beloved South to train in France and Germany, but when it was time, he returned home and put down roots in New Orleans. And he became its most steadfast ambassador -- never more so than after hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans in 2005.

His talent and drive have made him one of the most respected and celebrated chefs in America today. He has twelve restaurants, including August, Luke, Domenica, and Shaya. 

He is the author of four cookbooks, including his latest, "Besh Big Easy: 101 Home Cooked New Orleans Recipes."

In 2014, the James Beard Foundation inducted him into "who's who in food and beverage."

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CBS This Morning

John Besh revives Caribbean Room, Chicken Sue's changes and more: Talking food on News Talk 99.5 WRNO

November 6, 2015
By: Todd A. Price, Times-Picayune

Each week, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune dining writer Todd A. Price and Gerry V of News Talk 99.5 WRNO chat about what you must eat in New Orleans.

Catch their segments every Thursday morning in the 8:20 a.m. segment on New Orleans Morning News with Gerry V or check out the podcast below.

This week Price and Gerry V talk about John Besh's upcoming revival of the Caribbean Room, Chicken Sue's in Lakeview changing to Chap's Chicken and Seafood King Michael Brewer coming on as the chef at Manning's.