One-on-One with Tregaye Fraser, a Co-Host of Kitchen Sink

Tregaye FraserIt was less than a year ago that we saw Tregaye Fraser standing in Food Star Kitchen, accepting the coveted title of the next Food Network Star. Now, she’s set to showcase her Star potential on Kitchen Sink, which kicks off its new season on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 11a|10c. Each week she’ll be joined by food-loving pals, including a few familiar faces from The Kitchen. You can count on over-the-top dishes that will turn your party menu into an unforgettable feast, plus no shortage of entertainment, as Tregaye told us when we caught up with her on set. Read on below to hear from Tregaye in an exclusive interview, and get her take on what she’s bringing to the party on Kitchen Sink.

What has the journey to this moment been like for you, from winning Food Network Star in August to finally hosting The Kitchen Sink?
Tregaye Fraser: I’m so happy to finally be here. I’m so happy to finally be doing the show. It’s been a great journey, doing my guest appearances and things like that, so the experience itself is amazing. … And so now it’s show time. The moment of truth, the moment I have been waiting for. And I plan on making sure we get season after season. We’re going to have a good time on this show.

How are you approaching Kitchen Sink? What can we expect?
TF: I’m approaching Kitchen Sink the way I approach everything else: food fusion with a twist. I basically take everyday foods and make them in an unconventional way. So everything we do on Kitchen Sink is my completely style of cooking. So this is perfect for me. It’s the perfect space because we do mash-ups. We take something that you know and change it into something you may not know.

When it comes to making a successful mash-up, are there rules in terms of fusing flavors?
TF: You know, I am a firm believer that there aren’t many rules in the kitchen. You pretty much do what you feel, and whatever tastes good to you, you do it, because that’s how you create. Now, I could sit here and say, “Stay in the flavor profile of what it is you know.” So if you’re making cheeseburger nachos, maybe use some kind of crispy bread and burger and lettuce and cheese. Or I could say, “Just do whatever the hell you want.” Take those nachos, put some shrimp on top, put some cheese on top and go for what you know. You really just want to stick with mild flavors and kind of graduate. I think you should gradually go into things. A lot of times when I am creating a mash-up, I’ll start off with the base of what I think, and then I might add a little something extra to it. And that may be amazing. And then I might add something else to it, and then that’s like, “OK, I just took it to another level.” So it’s really just experimenting and trial and error.

In working with an ensemble on Kitchen Sink, what do want your voice to bring to the party?
TF: I’m going to bring the fun. I’m definitely going to bring the swag. I’m definitely going to create some amazing dishes that are going to blow your mind. And I just want to keep it cute. I want to have fun, I want to have a good time, and I want people to be at home and [having] a good time. I want them to look at me and say, “Man, Tregaye has fun in the kitchen, and I want to do that. I don’t even want to go out to eat anymore because I want to sit in my kitchen and watch Tregaye and the crew on Kitchen Sink do their thing.” That’s what I want.

When you’re cooking, how do you approach a recipe?
TF: I actually — secretly — I don’t even really work off recipes. I hate even writing them. I really like to taste as I go. … Sometimes the most-beautiful thing is a mistake when you are cooking. That’s kind of how I go.

What do you consider to be your signature dish?
TF: I don’t like that question. That’s a crazy question. I don’t have a signature dish. I say this time and time again: Food is like your kids. You can’t pick a favorite. And I’m so finicky. One day I like Mediterranean, one day I love nachos. I’m going to love wings until the day I die. … I’m always in a mood for something different, and I go through these phases, so it depends on my mood.

Food hacks are so popular these days. Do you find yourself gravitating to one in particular?
TF: You can always go to the trusty beating the meat with the frying pan. … That’s my thing; that’s like my go-to right there. I do a lot of kitchen hacks. I think we do kitchen hacks as chefs and we don’t even realize we’re doing them. Especially when you misplace something — everything becomes a kitchen hack. You just wing it. Use a bowl to crush cereal. Whatever.

What store-bought item do you condone people use when it comes to taking shortcut in the kitchens?
TF: I love using frozen fruit for smoothies. That’s the best, even better than fresh fruit to me. Pizza doughs — I love that, because every kid loves pizza, and nobody wants to sit there and wait for the yeast to rise, and do this and do that. You can go right in the store and get a pizza dough. I think that’s number one, because you can mix and match and make calzones and pizza burgers and all kinds of things because you have that dough that’s already made in the store.

Is there one cooking myth or rule you think it’s time we disprove once and for all?
TF: That seafood and cheese do not go together. … That’s the great debate. Of course, there are a lot of seafood mac and cheeses and things like that out there, but really people are starting to get more comfortable with it. But for years people [would say], “Seafood and cheese, that doesn’t go.” I love it. I love it. Put cheese all on my fish.

What one food trend are you ready to say goodbye to?
TF: The chicken and waffle. I’m about over the chicken and waffle, honestly. … You can make waffles a thousand ways, and it’s cute, but I am so done with the chicken and waffle.

Tune in to Kitchen Sink on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 11a|10c.

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Give peas a chance: why pea protein is leading the whey

Protein-packed dried and ground yellow split peas are 2017’s first big food trend. Anyone for a piece of pea pizza?

What with crickets still being a bit of a hard sell, food manufacturers have been trying to come up with new alternative sustainable protein sources to wean us off meat. Now food companies are hoping we will give peas a chance. Pea protein, extracted from dried and ground yellow split peas, has made it on to lists of 2017 food trends, probably because it crosses over into so many other trends – high-protein diets, plant-based eating and those avoiding meat, gluten and dairy.

You can buy pea milk to replace cow or soya milk; gym-goers can choose pea protein powder over whey shakes. You can get high-protein pizzas made with pea flour, pea-protein sauces, protein bars made from the stuff, and some gyms add it to pancakes and smoothies. According to Mintel, the number of products containing pea protein grew by 195% between 2013 and 2016.

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Anna Jones’ soup recipes get the year off to a fresh start | The modern cook

Shake up your meals with healthy, fortifying food that tastes great too. Take these broths: one Thai-inspired, the other a ‘not-chicken soup’: remedial and delicious in equal measure

The first column of a brave new year. I am an eternal optimist, a believer in new beginnings: we can turn over new leaves and wave goodbye to things that no longer serve us. When it comes to food, new beginnings can be useful – sometimes. But, before you turn the page, don’t worry: I’m not about to preach the holy virtues of spirulina or detoxing; I’m not into that.

About eight years ago, I was a recipe developer working in an office with a kitchen in every corner (in fact, it was more kitchen than office). Each day those kitchens were filled with us cooks making dishes from every corner of the world. We had to refine the recipes for home cooks; each had to be tested and tasted. I was the taster too. It was a wonderful education in food, but by the end of each day I felt jaded with eating, overwhelmed by the volume of it all. I hated that feeling – after all, food had always motivated me – but there is vulgarity in having too much food all the time. It felt a bit like I’d had a Christmas dinner every day.

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How to Make Naturally-dyed Linens

PHEW! This project has been on my to-make list for a very long time. As I was saying last week, I’m using January as a get-my-life-together-month, which includes–but is not limited to—freshening up my look a bit. Part of that is getting some new linens up in my life for photos. I’ve always been after […]

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Chefs’ Picks: Cold Busters

Ginger Garlic Chicken Noodle Soup
With cold and flu season comes the need for healing soups, teas and tonics. Chefs, in particular, know that eating the right kinds of foods can stave off those dreaded sniffles. Pros from across the country share their tried-and-true remedies for conquering colds.

Kicked-Up Noodle Soup
Garlic-ginger chicken soup is the key to conquering sickness for Chef Charlie Yusta of Horse’s Mouth in Los Angeles. “The combination of the vegetables, ginger and chicken broth really help fight a cold or flu,” says Yusta. “The vegetables contain vitamins, which boost your immune system, and the ginger helps reduce stomachaches and headaches, and fights any bacterial infections.” Speed the path to steaming soup by purchasing a roasted chicken in lieu of roasting your own.

Ginger Garlic Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe

Chicken:
1 three-pound roasted whole chicken
Salt
Pepper
Light olive oil

Rub the chicken with salt and pepper, drizzle with light olive oil and roast at 400 degrees for an hour.

Let chicken cool. Once cooled, take skin off of the chicken and save for later. Pull all meat off the bones. Put chicken meat aside. Save bones to make the broth.

Vegetables:
15 cloves garlic
1 bunch celery
3 bunches baby heirloom carrots
10 Roma tomatoes
6 baby bok choy, halved
2 yellow onions
1 bunch kale
Light olive oil
Salt
Pepper

Cut all vegetables in approximately 1-inch squares. Drizzle with light olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place vegetables on sheet pan and be sure not to crowd them too close together. Roast in oven at 400 degrees F for 35 minutes.

Remove vegetables from oven and mix them together. Hold until ready to serve.

Noodles:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Put all ingredients in bowl and mix together by hand. Then roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness and cut into noodles. Drop the noodles into salted boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Set aside.

Broth:
Bones from roasted chicken
3 quarts chicken stock
Fresh ginger
2 one-ounce packs of tamarind soup mix
Special equipment: blender

Put the chicken bones in a 4-quart pot, add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Strain bones out.

Peel ginger and blend in blender with one cup of the hot broth from the pot until smooth. Add the blended ginger and broth back into the pot, along with the tamarind soup mix.

Crispy Skin Garnish (Optional)
Take chicken skin and crisp up in a pan.

Add the chicken, vegetables and noodles to the broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Garnish with crispy chicken skin if desired. Serve with the following condiments on the side: fish sauce and chiles.

 

Dr. J from Crossroads
A Boozy Solution
Chef Tal Ronnen from the plant-based restaurant Crossroads in Los Angeles feels a vegetable-rich diet can help ward off sickness before it even starts. “Plants and vegetables are inherently chock-full of nutrients, vitamins [and] minerals and are a gold mine for everything your body needs.” Ronnen says. His recipes incorporate power-packed ingredients, such as kohlrabi, mustard greens, mushrooms, artichokes and chickpeas. He also advises staving off colds with a vitamin-packed cocktail concoction, such as his own restaurant’s Dr. J, made with cold pressed carrot and orange juice (squeezed on the premises), white rum, ginger and lemon.

 

Bone Broth
A Bit of Broth
As a Midwestern resident, Chef Nicole Pederson of Found and The Barn in Evanston, Illinois, is no stranger to brutal winters and, in turn, lots of under-the-weather moments. For her, the key to staying healthy is bone broth. “Whenever I am starting to feel sick, I drink lots of hot, spicy broth,” Pederson says. She recommends purchasing a high-quality broth sourced from a socially conscious purveyor, then customizing it by adding chunks of fresh ginger, turmeric, half of a lemon and a fresh serrano or jalapeño pepper split in half, as well as a tablespoon or two of honey. “Put it all on the stove, bring to a boil and then drink it down,” Pederson says. If you prefer to make the broth from scratch, try this slow-cooker recipe from Food Network Kitchen.

 

Ginger Honey Tea
Tea with a Twist
There’s nothing quite like cold remedies whipped up from family-approved recipes, as Chef Bill Telepan from seafood restaurant Oceana in New York can attest. Both of his family’s feel-good solutions involve spicy takes on traditional elixirs. “If we get sick in our house, I like to make chicken soup, of course. But we like to add chopped jalapeno and eat it with bread rubbed with garlic and salt,” Telepan says. “I also like to make decaf green tea at night… I add a lot of lemon, honey, red pepper flakes and bourbon. That is the ultimate cold remedy.” For another soothing spin, try this ginger-laced tea recipe from Rachael Ray.

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Buddha branding is everywhere – but what do Buddhists think?

Buddhism is all about restraint and detachment, so no wonder the religion’s philosophy is proving popular at the start of a year in which many already feel anxious

New year, new tenuously legitimate diet rooted in spirituality. The Buddha diet is one of January’s horde. Ostensibly rooted in sensible, restrictive eating, it’s also one of the latest examples of consumer society co-opting asceticism to sell stuff. The book Buddha’s Diet is climbing bestseller lists; Buddha bowls, the once left-field food-truck lunches, are coming to Marks & Spencer (branded as nourish bowls); and the 15-strong chain of Buddha Bars has just celebrated its 20th anniversary. Nothing, it seems, is safe from this blasphemous gravy train.

“It’s hardly surprising that people are trying to sell things attached to the concept of Buddhism,” says Singhamanas, who was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist order in 2012 and now works at the London Buddhist Centre. “It’s the idea that something can give you peace, ease, energy – something mysterious, something holy but not religious.”

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Nigel Slater’s winter salads with chicken and pork

After all the stodge of the festive season, start afresh with these cool winter dishes

I am not going to forgo my daily salad just because there’s a bit of frost on the roof. Those crisp, crackling leaves of winter, the welcome snap of bitterness and bright flavours will continue to take their place on my table, they just need a slightly different treatment. Most of my winter salads have a hot element to them – a sizzling, often spicy addition to contrast with the coolness of all the lush, crunchy greenery.

Roast chicken tossed with a dressing made from its own roasting juices, mellow black garlic and ice cold segments of citrus appeared on the menu this week, as did another salad of fat-marbled pork (I used belly), sweet miso and honey with pears and freckled lettuce. The pears, incidentally, were cooked with vinegar, sugar and peppercorns to give a teasingly pickled note, and would be good with cold meats or a wedge of pork pie, too.

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