Season 2 | Have you met Ben Starr? (2023)

During the filming of the second season of MasterChefJenny Kellyand I was very close. During a stress test challenge, our team was safe and we watched the opposing team from the safety of the balcony. Jennie and I were distraught, so our friends boiled it up trying to avoid deportation and wrapped our arms around each other in a vain attempt to comfort each other. (Taking a stress test is a lot more stressful than cooking for one.)

At one point Gordon Ramsay looked out onto the balcony and saw Jenny and I hug each other and said, "What's up you two? Do you want MasterChef's first love child?”

I wouldn't normally think of Ramsay as a prophet (although he's a great guy and a great cook), but in this case he predicted correctly. Jennie and I gave birth to MasterChef's first love child. His name isSINCERE.

We just turned 1 year with FRANK and what a year it has been! If you don't know much about FRANK, please look it up firstMy blog about what FRANK is, AndMy blog about our epic foodie Easter mealto get a better idea of ​​what's going on.

A few months ago we received an email from a TV producer in Canada about a new show calledDie Outlaw Eaterswhere the host travels across North America exploring the underground food scene, be it a celebrity chef hosting a pop-up in the basement of a pub, villainous food trucks and carts serving up unlicensed but delicious treats, and of course underground restaurants. Which can be extremely difficult to find. But they had found us... they wanted to shoot FRANK.

we were not sure. FRANK is a well-oiled machine, poised precariously on the tip of a needle. Working at home in a small kitchen and serving 18 people more than 5 dishes at the same time is an incredible challengewithoutThere were cameramen everywhere and a presenter hanging around asking questions. We didn't want to compromise the FRANK experience for our customers in any way. And we weren't willing to "manage" a FRANK just for the shoot either, because if the experience is going to be captured on TV, then we wanted it to be authentic.

So we decided to go with a theme that we had done before (but with a brand new menu of course) to also familiarize our staff and make sure the film crew comes SECOND so we've gone through everything before we did wanted to know at what times we had extra time for interviews and such.

The choice of repeat topic was pointless. Our most popular theme last year was Brunch After Dark. For some reason people just love brunch in the evenings and people are asking us to do it again. (The first time we were pretty sure it would be an annual affair.) But the menu had to be perfect, so we started thinking about it a little earlier than usual. And this is what we came up with:

Of course, as is customary in these blogs, I briefly describe how everything was prepared.

It's spring and that means morels. (Check out my blogSearching for gold wrasse on the Buffalo River in Arkansas in early May!) While morels are still popping up up north, ours are all falling apart down here, so we picked up gray morels from our great supplier, Tom SpicerSpicemans FM 1410. Tom is the brother of a very famous New Orleans chef and supplies the best restaurants in Dallas with feed ingredients and fresh herbs and vegetables. Check him out if you've never been... it's quite amazing. Morels only occur in nature and are therefore expensive and sought after:

We halved the morps, fried them in butter, and stuffed each half with soft-scrambled eggs from our favorite farmer.William Hurst at Grandma's Farm in McKinney. William has been providing us with free-range eggs and chickens since our big Bastille Day celebration on my birthday last summer, when people around the world were outraged over a photo I posted of a beautiful rooster harvested at Williams Farm got. to celebrate her free range life, living like a chicken coop, totally free of cage or pens, before earning her place in the food chain as a delicious coq au vin at FRANK's table. This started a great discussion among my fans about the ethics of meat eating, and if you haven't read these blogs you definitely should...especially the comments at the end. You have been foundher, with a follow-up blogher. We love William and this time we've added 11 dozen of his eggs and 10 of his free range chickens to the menu. (He sells to the public, so email him from his website to see what he has.) Here I am trying to decide which veggies to pick for the menu:

Gently stirring is the only way to beat an egg. It doesn't necessarily mean a moist end product, but refers to the speed at which the eggs are cooked. For the perfect scrambled egg, place your beaten eggs in a heavy glass bowl over a simmering water bath, gently folding the eggs under with a spatula every few minutes. You can cook them as dry as you like. However, be careful not to break the large, tender chunks of curd that result from cooking over the gentle heat. Spend 30 minutes or more on this and the texture of the scramble will make you think you died and went to heaven! We flavored the egg-filled Morpes with a little truffle salt to bring out the morel's earthy flavor. A perfect bite. All first courses were served with a blood orange mimosa prepared with our homemade apple and pomegranate sparkling wine which we have previously served at FRANK to rave reviews.

Photo courtesy of David Harr

(Video) Reaction video: Watching episode 7 of Masterchef Season 3 with guest Ben Starr

Our next course was a salad. At the first Brunch After Dark we featured a Bloody Mary-inspired soup, so this time we made a Bloody Mary-inspired salad, with classic Bloody Mary ingredients on the plate. First there was confit tomatoes which I think is the ONLY way to make a store bought tomato edible. Confit, pronounced “cone-FEE,” is a French technique for preserving something in fat—in this case, tomatoes in olive oil. To prepare, halve the tomatoes and place cut-side up on a baking sheet. Season lightly with salt and pepper, drizzle generously with olive oil and add a few sprigs of fresh thyme, if you have them, for fun. Then you bake them in your oven at 170 degrees for 8-12 hours until they are golden brown and thick and look like this:

You can't even imagine what it does to an otherwise floury, boring, unripe supermarket tomato. It's like someone hitting you in the head with a 50 pound bag of tomatoes. Sweet (but not sugary like a sun-dried tomato), juicy, tangy and intense. Like a bloody mary. The confit tomatoes were accompanied by a tangy homemade Worcestershire sauce, tangy arugula from my garden and spicyhomemade pickled asparagusfrom the garden...okay, do you understand that the salad was spicy? We topped it with a celery bitters vinaigrette and served it with butter-poached jumbo prawns and served hot popovers fresh from the oven:

There was homemade butter mixed with honey for the pops and some homemade jam for the sweet tooth. "It was quite a complicated salad, and more than one of our customers said, 'You know, it sounded good on the menu, but everything else sounded so great that the salad wasn't the dish I was looking forward to the most . But it ended up being my favorite lesson ever!” Salad is the menu item we always pay attention to but almost never order because it can be difficult to make a really great salad.

Photo courtesy of David Harr

The next lesson was… what else? Chicken and Waffles. I first ate chicken and waffles together over a decade ago, of all places, in San Diego, at an incredible restaurant calledHash House A Go Go: Verdrehtes Farmfood. What a restaurant! I was nervous about the whole sweet/spicy thing (which I admit I'm not very comfortable with) and her performance should have been a challenge. Spicy fried chicken with rosemary on whole wheat waffles, all drizzled with maple syrup. But it was DIVINE. With that memory as inspiration, we took William Hurst's incredible free-range chicken, soaked it in buttermilk brine overnight, and then breaded it using our top-secret technique, resulting in the crispiest, tastiest chicken imaginable. We served boneless white and dark meat on the plate and more than one person each night said it was by far the best fried chicken they had ever eaten. Placed on a buckwheat waffle, topped with a toasted black walnut.

Photo courtesy of David Harr

Black walnuts aren't "regular" walnuts or English walnuts...the kind you see in the supermarket at Christmas that you crack open like a pecan with a nutcracker and remove both halves of the stone. The black walnut is a Native American tree whose nuts are rock hard and must be broken open with a hammer. The tiny bits of nutmeat must then be carefully plucked from the labyrinthine pores inside the shell. 4 hours of work yielded only 3/4 of a cup of nuts. The black walnut has a completely different taste than the English walnut and is much more desirable nutritionally: more protein, fewer carbohydrates. However, since it is almost impossible to shell them, it is also almost impossible to find shelled black walnuts commercially. You have to pay the piper with broken thumbs and aching knees because he was on the ground with the hammer. But that's how we do it at FRANK. As Julia Child said:"Nothing is too much trouble when things are going well."

On top of the chicken and waffles we drizzled "dandelion honey" recommended to me by my amazing Slovenian fan Katja Turk... clickHERfor the story and the recipe of this unique syrup, which has become an integral part of FRANK and which our customers rave about.

Photo courtesy of David Harr

(Video) Ben Starr (Clive Rosfield) Talks About FFXVI! Interview

This was followed by a palate cleanser, ginger passion fruit sorbet...crisp, light, refreshing and very flavorful, filled with passion fruit pulp including the magical crunchy little pips I love so much in favorite fruit. This sorbet was made in the blender, not the freezer! A concentrated base of cooked ginger, sugar and passion fruit was poured over ice in the Vitamix and processed until smooth. If you have a blender with this power, sorbets can be prepared incredibly quickly!

And then the main attraction: a pork benedict. Inspired by southern pork and veggies, I don't think Jennie and I knew how awesome this dish was going to be when we thought about it. With so much bread on the menu by now, we skipped the English muffin altogether and based the Benedict on a pile of William Hurst bland beets and spinach, home-cooked apple cider vinegar, and pork belly made with most of the great protein we've ever come across FRANK ... and that's saying something. Thanks to Clark belowArrowhead Meat Specialties, we were able to pick up 2 whole pork belliesCompart family businesses, the producer of what is arguably the best pork in the country. They raise all of their hog feed right on the farm and they only raise Durocs, a Spanish breed (which I grew up with as a kid!) known for excellent meat that's almost red instead of the pale, pale pork you'd expect on the farm grocery store looks:

Here you can see the rough cut of raw meat. Your supermarket bacon might look like it, but that's because it's been cured with "pink salt" nitrates to give the meat a pink hue that stays that way after cooking. Ordinary raw pork is nothing like it. It was an honor to work with these pork bellies, they are some of the best cuts of meat I have ever eaten.

First, we wet-treated the tummies by pickling them with a top-secret pickle made with homemade apple cider vinegar, bay leaves, peppers, garlic, onions, and collected wild black mustard seeds that can currently be found everywhere:

After the curing process was complete, the stomach was dried in the refrigerator for several days to form the "pulp," or dry, sticky outer surface that contains the smoke for the next stage of preparation: hot smoking. We smoked these babies nice and slowly over wild grape wood harvested in the park behind my house for about six hours until they were done. They then chilled them to prepare, then sliced ​​them into "bacon chops," then grilled them until ready to serve:

Pork belly is currently all the rage and is on the menu in every trendy restaurant. So you can imagine our customers had high expectations and it was undoubtedly the highlight of the evening. One restaurateur who claims to be a gourmet at heart said it was the best thing he's ever tasted. Steven, the host of the show he was directing, said they'd been served pork at almost EVERY pub they'd stopped at on their tour of the mainland in search of the best underground food in the country, and that ours is undoubtedly the best. As you can imagine, we took great pride in our pork, but always knew that it was the Compart family that did most of the work, carefully raising the best pork in the world.

Photo courtesy of David Harr

A soft, poached willow egg lay on top of the pork, with willow hollandaise draped over it. Have we talked about pasture eggs yet? Some of our customers have mistakenly referred to it as "pasteurized eggs" which is quite another matter. A pasture egg comes from a hen that does not have a cage or enclosure. If you see "free range eggs" or "cage eggs" in the supermarket, it does NOT mean the chicken is not caged. ALL commercially farmed eggs come from caged hens. Period. Free range chickens simply live in LARGE cages with thousands of other chickens where they have access to the 'outside' (ie an enclosed space adjacent to the large covered cage where they spend most of the day). Free-range chickens, also known as farm chickens, live as a chicken would naturally live...with a single cage as the perimeter fence to the farm. During the day it wanders around as much as it likes, feeding on grass, weeds, seeds and insects. The yolk of grass-fed eggs is dark orange and incredibly rich, giving our hollandaise a stunning deep yellow. (Some customers thought we added food coloring!)

But they're not all my friends! To bring the Benedict to the level of absolute insanity, we've added Roasted Ramps to the dish! Ramps are wild leeks harvestable in spring in Midwest and East Coast woods and are the tastiest of all alliums. Shaped like a spring onion but with paddle-like leaves, it offers an enigmatic combination of onion spiciness, garlic depth and sugary sweetness. There's nothing in the whole world like the taste of a ramp. And the way those flavors mingle...the rich, smoky pork, the flavorful braised veggies, the rich runny yolks and hollandaise, and the crispy, flavorful, sweet ramps...I'm just telling you, dear reader : It could have been the best I've ever tasted. People licked their plates and groaned. She was forgiving in the truest sense of the word.

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But we can't stop there, because without dessert there is no FRANK. First we made challah, a traditional Jewish egg bread baked on the Sabbath using any surplus eggs from the farm. A few fans commented on my Facebook page that this doesn't look like traditional challah...but like any deep-rooted food tradition, there are a million right ways and only one is the best. Some have another smaller braid that runs down the middle. Some are brushed with egg white and sprinkled with sesame or poppy seeds. But ours was for something else entirely... Bourbon-soaked French toast, drizzled with reduced bourbon and maple syrup drizzled withhomemade granola, and served with such an intense coffee ice cream that we mixed the finely ground coffee directly into the ice cream:

And our restaurants were full. But that's just the menu... lest we forget: FRANK was filmed for posterity! The host of The Illegal Eater,Stephen PageHe is best known as the former lead singer of the band The Barenaked Ladies. (You remember her biggest hit... "Chickity China, the Chinese girl, you've got a drum and your brain stops beating...") It's wrong to stick to his past alone, but Stephen's new project is touring a new band with him across the country and their stuff is just great so check out his tour dates on his website under the 'LIVE' link and see him when he comes to you! But before he became a straight-up rock star, Steven attended culinary school, and it was amazing to hear him share stories of his culinary awakening on tour. Steven and the crew came to my house on Saturday to film some of the elements that go into FRANK here, namely the FRANK garden, the processes we use to make our wine, beer, cheese and charcuterie, and, more importantly, the wonderful ladies of the FRANK herd:

What I did NOT know is that Steven and I are long-lost half-siblings. This guy is just like me. Or am I like him? His backyard is full of chickens and a garden. We talked about how to install pipes between rain barrels to directly feed the irrigation system in our gardens. If Steven lived in Dallas instead of upstate New York, we would have NO doubt that we would be at each other's dinner parties every week. He was as refreshing as a celebrity can get... sincere, self-deprecating, straight-forward, overtly sentimental about "the good old days," but fully aware that the lives we lead now are infinitely better than they were then , when we were 'famous'. Unlike most celebrities I've worked with, Steven is exactly the same person when the camera is on and when there's no camera around. (Rachael Ray is another.)

He was a little taken aback by all the work that was being done at FRANK. This is no ordinary restaurant. He simply refused to believe that we make our own cheese and wine and both he and the crew were more than willing to see FRANK at my house after a rainy Saturday afternoon. (I made themWhite Chocolate Bacon Cookiesand served them with raw milkHappy Leila, and everyone seemed to enjoy that nostalgia.)

When you combine food with television, it becomes difficult. Because television takes time to prepare, and food waits for no one. If you watch MasterChef, you might be amazed that the judges sample dishes that stay at room temperature for hours after preparation. But we didn't have that luxury...we had to make sure our 18 guests (including Steven) had a true FRANK experience, and that meant the best possible meal. And when we finally seated our guests at the table, the food started to flow. Despite some extra heat from the studio lights and the fact that we couldn't crank our classic vinyl record as loud as usual (backing songs have to be licensed and royalties paid if they're shown on TV), FRANK played without a hitch.

And while we were busy cooking, serving and watching TV, our customers had a real FRANK experience, as described by Shirley, a girl who flew in from Virginia to visit FRANK for her birthday:"Hello Ben. I've had time to return to Virginia and contemplate the most unusual birthday party of my life. I really enjoyed flying to Dallas for my birthday to visit FRANK. This is an experience I've always dreamed of doing and it actually happened. The entire 5/24/13 brunch after dark was delicious and it was fun to hear how you researched and prepared each dish. And just so you know, I didn't miss a single black walnut chip. :o) I also ate my first "flower" and it was good! Thank you for your hospitality and the pleasure of being around you. Jennie was also very kind to have us in her loft and gave us big surprises. It was a pleasure to be in your presence and to eat and socialize with many others. I'm still reveling in the splendor of dinner at FRANK's. You are so funny! hugs! Keep your great personality!”

Shirley was there with a couple of FRANK patrons, Frank and Lil Eastman who are remarkable poets! They wrote this wonderful little poem about FRANK's experience:

A loud beep announces "You have mail".
I navigate there with the mouse.
Another FRANK event, Ben and Jen regards,
I send my reply quickly and without errors.

We always look forward to FRANK.

A lottery chooses those who will eat
A dinner that is delicious.
The freshest ingredients, simply wonderfully seasoned.
(Oh oh thanks I hope they choose mine)

We always look forward to FRANK.

An industrial loft is where we all meet,
The address is close to downtown Dallas and is discreet.
Eighteen guests are warmly welcomed by the chefs,
The amuse bouche is ready, please sit down.

We always look forward to FRANK.

We all sit at a long table,
Recycled oak floors. No, it's not maple.
Ben did it: Yes, he's quite capable
With all these dishes, I hope it is stable.

We always look forward to FRANK.

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Lessons are served with clockwork precision,
Its content is the decision of the two master chefs.
Imaginary coating is an artistic vision,
Grilled white bass? Did Ben go fishing?

We always look forward to FRANK.

The guests are full, the dinner is full,
Jen and Ben, that was definitely a treat!
Now if I can just get up from this place
You will see a wondrous deal!

I always eat too much at FRANK's!

is it time to go To say goodbye
We all enjoyed culinary highlights.
I'll make waffles with my fried chicken thighs
Waiting with hungry sighs until next time.

We always have a good time at FRANK.

Our guests left the house and the film crew started packing as if they were on their way. But Jenny and I tried to make them a buffet because they were being fed delicious FRANK food all night and we knew they must be hungry. At first they looked at us a little strangely.

"No one has prepared food for us before in our entire trip," they said.

"Welcome to FRANK!" We beamed and handed them plates.

An hour later, our communal table was filled with happy and hearty guests for the second time in one evening. The house wine was flowing freely and the director turned to us, eyes a little bleary, and said, “Tonight was really special. We have never experienced anything like this. Thanks very much."

Steven Page, the rock star that he is, sat at the table sipping our whiskey and casually chatting to Jenny about the best venues in the country and to me about the various pros and cons of different chicken breeds. .If we were old friends we would sit on a country porch and share a pitcher of moonshine.It's pretty rare to find someone in this world who is truly sincere, let alone someone who has weathered the ravages of celebrity and remained so.

As always, a big thank you to our customers, without whom FRANK has no meaning. Thank you Steven for thatgryntendeFRANK and your extremely generous praise for what we do. Thank you to the film crew who are the most flexible and cool team we have ever worked with. Thank you to our AMAZING staff, our waiters Chris and Marie, our sous chef Natalie and our associate Evan for finally being able to eat at the table he has stayed at many times. But most of all, thank youJenny Kelly, who bravely told me his secret dream of an underground restaurant called FRANK. In a few months, millions of people will be virtually sitting at our table and experiencing FRANK through Steven's eyes. You may wonder, if only for a moment, where your food comes from. You may remember long ago gathering around a table with family for dinner, with no television, cellphones or internet, sharing a home-cooked dinner and the power it has in bringing people close together. Because it is what it isSINCEREIt's about.

We'll keep you updated on the dates of the Illegal Eater shows here in the US. So subscribe to my blog at the top right of this page for future updates! Feel free to comment below and like FRANKFacebookand follow usTwitterfor more incredible stories about amazing, delicious food and dinners so epic, they're catching Hollywood's attention!

To learn more about FRANK,Click here for a list of blog postsfor our most interesting menus!


1. When The Levee Breaks feat. John Paul Jones | Playing For Change | Song Around The World
(Playing For Change)
2. The Buggles - Video Killed The Radio Star (Official Music Video)
3. Waiting On The Sky To Change ft. Breaking Benjamin
4. Kali - Area Codes (Lyrics) "got a white boy on my roster he be feeding me pasta and lobster"
5. The Interview That Ruined Katherine Heigl's Career Overnight
(Nicki Swift)
6. Men At Work - Who Can It Be Now? (Video Version)
(Men At Work)


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