October 28th, 2013
06:00 PM ET
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This is the fifteenth installment of "Eat This List" - a semi-regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about.

Getting tapped as a judge for a barbecue competition sounds like a carnivore's dream come true, especially when it's at the level of The Jack. For 25 years, cooking teams from around the world have converged upon Lynchburg, Tennessee to battle for smoke-soaked supremacy at the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue.

This past Saturday, 25,000 barbecue devotees showed up to cheer on the 76 United States and 23 international teams that had qualified to participate by winning at the state level or various prestigious competitions. Chicken, ribs, pork and brisket were mandatory categories, and sauce, cook's choice and dessert were optional.

I got to taste them all.

I've been Kansas City Barbeque Society certified since 2008 and judged other food events, so this wasn't my first rodeo, but nothing compares to a competition where a $10,000 prize and such high-test bragging rights are on the line. Richmond, Virginia's Cool Smoke team took home the Grand Champion title, as well as Rockwell, Iowa's Pig Skin BBQ for a separately-judged Winner's Circle of previous Jack champs.

Judges like me left with full stomachs, sauce-stained clothes and some insight into what it takes to judge - and win - at competitive barbecue.
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August 26th, 2013
01:00 PM ET
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This is the fourteenth installment of "Eat This List" - a semi-regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about.

I go to Las Vegas for the food and booze. Yes, I live in New York, one of the greatest dining and drinking cities on the planet, but there's something about the unapologetic bombast of Sin City that just stirs my soul.

I've been to Vegas an awful lot over the past 15 years, and I don't gamble with my dining dollars. Neither should you. Here are seven sure bets I've made time and time again, and I hope they'll pay off for you, too.

1. The Peppermill
Since 1972, tourists and locals alike have sought refuge in the plush, rope-lit banquettes of this campy, comfy North Strip coffee shop and cocktail lounge. At any time of day or night, patrons can gobble down comically heaping platters of 10-egg omelettes and hash browns, towering club sandwiches and fishbowl-sized sundaes, but the real action is in the back at the Fireside Lounge.
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Eat This List: 8 ways food can help after heartache
May 21st, 2013
04:45 PM ET
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This is the thirteenth installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about.

Everybody eats. We may all come from different places, belief systems, political affiliations and football divisions, but at least once a day, every last one of us puts food into our bodies to fuel us for the road ahead.

We also all suffer loss, both on a global scale and in the gut. At times like these, eating might seem like the least important, most impossible task on the planet, but it can feed so much more than the stomach.

A shared meal, a dropped-off plate of cookies or a raised glass can add a much-needed note of normalcy in an overwhelming time. As groups like Operation BBQ Relief and Team Rubicon speed toward Moore, Oklahoma to feed and assist tornado victims, here are eight stories of times when food helped people find a little bit of respite in a world turned upside town.
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How to avoid (or start) a fight with a food snob
May 10th, 2013
10:00 AM ET
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Details.com editor James Oliver Cury tackles controversial food-and-drink-themed etiquette issues every week.

May is filled with opportunities to feast, starting with Cinco De Mayo and ending with Memorial Day weekend, the semi-official start of grilling season. It should be a happy, face-stuffing time as we say hello once again to seasonal staples.

But with this upswing in communal eating often comes heated debates about culinary gaffes, as in: You’re doing it wrong!

Here are four food fights in the making - assuming there’s a food snob in the room.
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Eat This List: 5 reasons you shouldn't blame the waiter
May 2nd, 2013
12:30 PM ET
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This is the twelfth installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about. Today's contributor is the pseudonymous blogger The Bitchy Waiter. He lives and works in New York City, and has appeared as a guest on Dr. Phil and a guest commentator on CBS Sunday Morning and in a previous Eat This List. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @bitchywaiter - and don't forget to tip.

When customers go to a restaurant, many variables can affect their dining experience. The server is in charge of some of these things, but many of them are beyond his or her control.

This does not, however, keep some people from punishing their poor, defenseless server in the form of a lower than average tip. I would like to apologize in advance for some of the things my customers might be unsatisfied with the next time they sit in my section.
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Eat This List: 5 reasons you (yes you) should embrace fine dining
April 30th, 2013
10:00 AM ET
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This is the eleventh installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about. Today's contributor is John Winterman, maitre d' at Daniel restaurant in New York City.

I can be as casual as the next guy. I'm from Indiana, so I don't have much choice. The only known Hoosier engaged in high snobbery was Bill Blass, otherwise no one ever got beyond “local boy done good” status – even James Dean.

I have ripped this joint and raised some hell. I've been to enduros and hydroplane races and at least one tractor pull. I drank my first PBR at age five and I still have a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off.

But I also know the tragedy that is a grown-up wearing shorts in public. I know the difference between the ballpark and the opera house, between a dive bar and The French Laundry.

As the maitre d' at Daniel I get to work in one of the finest fine dining establishments in the world. The restaurant exudes charm and flair, a hybrid of modern French-American style be it on the plate or in the service, a place that requires jackets and frowns on jeans.

That being said, it is a balancing act. We defend a standard of dining in a time where a chef can earn three Michelin stars while eschewing silver, crystal and a jacket policy. Upholding a standard is ever more critical as you try to justify separating people from their money on a nightly basis.

Herein, a dollop of wisdom on why fine dining still matters.
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Filed under: Daniel Boulud • Dining • Eat This List • Feature • Fine Dining • Restaurants • Service


Eat This List: 5 ways YOU delay your meal
April 8th, 2013
03:00 PM ET
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This is the tenth installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about. Today's contributor is the pseudonymous blogger The Bitchy Waiter. He lives and works in New York City, and has appeared as a guest on Dr. Phil and a guest commentator on CBS Sunday Morning. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @bitchywaiter - and don't forget to tip.

If you have never had the pleasure of working in a restaurant, you may not be familiar with the term, "in the weeds." First off, allow me to congratulate you on never having worked in a restaurant.

"In the weeds" is what we restaurant folk (we're similar to "circus folk" except we smell like fajitas and honey mustard instead of cotton candy and clown tears) say when we are very behind in getting everything done that needs to be done.

One is thrown "in the weeds" for a variety of reasons: the dish guy hasn't run the silverware through the machine when tables need to be reset, the hostess is extremely adept at seating multiple parties at once, or maybe the restaurant is short-staffed because two servers called out sick to go to an audition.

Sometimes, it is the customer who throws us in the weeds and they have no idea they are doing it. Here are five ways that customers, unknowingly, throw their server into the weeds.
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March 18th, 2013
05:15 PM ET
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They've got a lust for knife – celebrity chefs' kitchen crushes

Some days are better than others. Nominees for the James Beard Awards (a.k.a. the "Oscars of the food world") were announced today and we were delighted to find some of our work on it.

This collection of Eatocracy and CNN videos (along with host Tom Foreman and producers Jeremy Harlan, Kat Kinsman, Eric Marrapodi and Dan Lothian) is in the finals for the Television Segment award. Please enjoy.
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Filed under: Aspen Food and Wine Classic • In Focus • James Beard • JBFA Nominated • Television • Video


Eat This List: 5 ways to complain effectively in a restaurant
March 6th, 2013
12:00 PM ET
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This is the ninth installment of "Eat This List" - a regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about. Today's contributor is the pseudonymous "Manuel T. Waiter." He's the author of the wildly popular blog Well Done Fillet, and works as a waiter at an undisclosed restaurant in Belfast, Ireland. He'll be right with you.

Complaints, eh.

Complaints are magical little moments that allow you, as a waiter, to look deep into the soul of the guest and see what makes them tick. You see beyond the well-dressed (or otherwise) exterior and deep down into their insecurities and paranoid psychosis. Or something, not that I want to over-think things. Sometimes a steak is just an overcooked piece of meat and not the start of a mental breakdown.

But quite often when a customer complains it's less about you or your restaurant's inability to sling three appetizing courses over two hours down onto a table, and more about the punter and their state of mind. Honestly some days I know they're only one overcooked tuna away from a William "D‑Fens" Foster moment.
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