Sunday, November 17, 2013

Top Chef John Franke will be one of the culinary stars at ZestFest 2014

Local chef John Franke logs a lot of miles each year demonstrating just how easy it is to cook your own good food. Cathy Whiteman found him amid the fun and frenzy of Grapefest, promoting easy dishes with local ingredients like those featured at his home base: The Ranch at Las Colinas. Chef Franke will be one of the star chef's at ZestFest 2014.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Chef Eduardo Alvarez - one of the top chefs you will get a chance to meet at ZestFest 2014

Fare Game from Sharie Vance on Vimeo.

Chef Eduardo Alvarez began working in the food industry at the age of sixteen.  In 1980, while working at Les Saisons as a pantry cook, he observed the chefs perform their daily duties in a style that fascinated him.  He knew then his long-term goal was to become an Executive Chef.
To obtain this goal, he worked his way up the ladder from a Sauté and Broiler Cook to Junior Sous Chef to Sous Chef to Executive Sous Chef and finally to Executive Chef.

His experience in preparing and cooking for large numbers of attendees was obtained while working at the Dallas Convention Center.  During his tenure, he received the award for Manager of the Quarter in the fall of 1998.  In addition, he attended El Centro College and obtained certification in Nutrition in Food Service, Management for Chefs, Food Service Manager and Sanitation for Chefs. In May of 1999, Chef Eduardo was hired as the Executive Chef of the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium.  He still cooked for large numbers of attendees but with a narrower time span and notes his LOVE for the rush of game day, especially the Thanksgiving game.  Chef Eduardo opened the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington in June of 2009.In August of 2010, Chef Eduardo was hired as the Executive Chef of the Irving Convention Center.
With one opening under his belt he is very excited about this next challenge.  Chef Eduardo has played a key role in the planning, implementing and development of all that it takes to open a new facility and operate the food service.When Chef Eduardo is not hard at work, he devotes his time to his wife and three wonderful children, two daughters and one son.  As a parent, he believes children are a reflection of who their parents are and considers fatherhood a blessing.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thanksgiving is coming...



Use organic ingredients where possible.
1 12-pound turkey
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons Frontier® turmeric
2 tablespoons Frontier® smoked paprika
2 teaspoons Frontier® sea salt
2 teaspoons Frontier® black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
Lemon zest from 2 lemons
2 cups vegetable broth or 3 cups water + 6 tablespoons Frontier® vegetable broth powder

Note: Frontier® Co-op has provided this recipe as a suggestion for your use based on commonly available ingredients understood to be gluten-free. Frontier Co-op cannot guarantee the gluten-free nature of the specific ingredients you obtain or your preparation of the final recipe. Please exercise good judgment in selecting gluten-free ingredients.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place turkey breast side up on a roasting rack. Tuck wings under and remove anything inside the cavity of the turkey. Combine olive oil, turmeric, smoked paprika, sea salt, black pepper, minced garlic, and lemon zest in a bowl to form a paste. Using your hands or a spoon, smear the turmeric mixture over the turkey.
Place the vegetable broth in the bottom of the roasting pan. Slice the lemons used for zest in half and place in the cavity of the turkey. Stick the meat thermometer to the thickest part of the turkey and place the turkey on the lowest rack in the oven.
Every 30 to 45 minutes, baste the turkey and after 1 ½ hours, check the temperature of the turkey. If turkey is browning too fast, cover the top with tinfoil. Bake until the turkey reaches at least 165 degrees in all parts.
When turkey is done, remove the rack with the turkey from the roasting pan and set aside. Cover turkey with tinfoil and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fort Worth Chef John Bonnell, one of several Celebrity Presenters at Zest Fest 2013

“One of the best things I like about a crawfish boil,” he said, “is that it’s a very social way to eat.” The preparation is simple, as well, he said, adding that the large pot with a lift-out interior steaming basket is widely available and not expensive. “But it’s a must,” he said, for a proper seafood boil.

The ingredients are few: Crawfish, which are just coming into season now, will be available and delicious for the next few months, until after Easter. His advice: Make sure they’re alive and then soak them in cold saltwater for a period of 3-4 hours to “purge” them.

Additional ingredients in Bonnell’s Boil are: Corn on the cob, broken into smaller chunks; hunks of Andouille sausage; small yellow fingerling potatoes, whole; and shrimp. Then, importantly, there are the seasonings – onions, garlic, hot sauce and the seasonings. Also, four or five lemons for each batch.

Then, jokingly, he proclaimed that the most important ingredient was beer – which he proceeded to drink rather than adding it to the pot.
During the 30-minute presentation, Bonnell kept up a running banter with the audience, answering questions and frequently checking his steaming pot of goodness. He stressed that “the key to a good crawfish boil is adding all the ingredients at the right time.” Potatoes go in first, he noted; then the corn, and the seasonings. The crawfish take longer to cook than the shrimp, he said, so you should “get them boiling real good.”

During the presentation, he spoke about spice and zest, noting that flavor, and the right amount of seasoning, is important in preparing food that tastes good. You could just boil the crawfish in salted water, he said, adding that that would not be very interesting.

Don't go easy on the seasoning

His demonstration proves that he does not go easy on the seasonings and spices, making some of the audience cringe as he poured in the hot sauce, but the finished product prompted only exclamations of approval from the crowd.

Bonnell has authored several cookbooks and also offers a line of prepared mixed seasonings and dry rubs.

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to Irving, Texas, Zestfest 2014!

On behalf of the Irving Convention & Visitors Bureau, I am extremelyproud to welcome you back to Irving for Zestfest 2014, back to what Ihope will be your home for a long time to come, here at the IrvingConvention Center at Las Colinas! From our first taste of Zestfest justthree years ago as our opening event, we've been waiting for you toget back.
The entire team at Spicy Food Productions has put so many new twistson a favorite event – we know many of you have been fans of Zestfestfor a long time, but we also know we've got some first-timers in thehouse as well!! The line up for this year’s event is spectacular – can’twait to share it all with you.

Our staff at the Irving Convention & Visitors Bureau is nearby andhappy to point you in the direction of events and activities afterZestfest hours, and our hotels and restaurants are looking forward towelcoming you to Irving. (You can find lots more information at ourwebsite at The staff of the Irving ConventionCenter at Las Colinas will take good care of you while you’re here inthe building. We also hope you’ll check in with us on Facebook, andwe look forward to seeing all the fun and flavor of Zestfest you shareon Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, and wherever else you’rehanging out on line.

Thanks so much for making Zestfest part of your weekend plans –here’s to a spicy and zesty 2014 for all of us!

Most zestily,
Maura Allen Gast, FCDMEExecutive Director

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Another ZestFest attraction- besides foods, spices and libations (to help put out a bit of the sizzle) is the country’s top chefs who conduct fully interactive cooking demonstrations. 2014 is no exception as chefs- the likes of John Bonnell, Eduardo Alvarez, John Frank, Enam Chowdhury, and local legend Eddie Deen- show off the skills that have made them renowned in their field, all performed in full cooking glory on the Celebrity Chef Stage located in the convention hall. And like any food festival, ZestFest is ripe with competition, from hottest dishes, to most original spices, as well as contests sure to burn the roof of your mouth, including the “Wingstop Atomic Wings Eating Contest” and the “Jalapeno Eat-Off”. On the other hand,  there will be flavorful offerings for those who love spice rather than heat.

Also included will be live music and continuous demonstrations and exhibits throughout the weekend.  So bring the family, come in from the cold, and prepare to taste some of the hottest and most flavorful foods from around the globe.

For more information on ZestFest 2014, please visit www.ZestFest
Or Contact Gregory Bagarozy  or call us at 888 505 8246


JANUARY 24 – 26, 2014

The Irving Convention Center Once Again Hosts this 12th Annual Spicy Food Festival that Draws Tens of Thousands in Search of the Hottest Foods and the Coolest Culinary Tools, Recipes and Instruction

(Irving, TX) – In the cavernous confines of the Irving Convention Center, you can find the boldest, and, at times, the bravest of foodies – the ‘Hot and Spicy’ connoisseur. And for this certain type of palette,  ZestFest  is the mecca for all things flavorful, spicy, hot, extreme, and just plain “zesty”. From sauces to salsas, recipes to remedies, the whole ZestFest experience is built around the idea that “if it makes food taste great, then it must be good”.

Now in its 12th year, the festival, produced by Spicy Food Productions and presented by NBC and The Dallas Morning News, has steadily grown from a niche gathering to a national event, all under the watchful eye of ZestFest owner Greg Bagarozy, who is excited about a new feature of the show.  This year ZestFest will have a Crawdad boil on Saturday night from 6pm – 9pm. Attendees can eat, listen to music, check out all of the show offerings, and have more time to experience all things Zesty.  

What makes ZestFest so compelling is the massive number of companies that deal in the hot, flavorful, and spicy industry- from local homegrown start-ups to international brands. And it’s not just the consumers who are coming here to sample the wares- it’s retail buyers, restaurant owners, and the searching  palates of some of the country’s best chefs.