Confidence and Competition Among Men Who Cook: The Cook-off

The Cook-off: Confidence and Competition Among Men Who Cook

We all know a man thrives off a little competition! Whether it’s a game of football, seeing who can eat the most hotdogs or who can get the girl, men just love to compete. I think the perfect competition is one combining food and ego, where the men bring tastosterone to the table. What could be better than confident men in the kitchen, taking pride in whipping up their signature dish? This is why cook-offs have recently become so popular.

Some cook-offs are informal, where people are mainly just interested in getting together to share recipes and enjoy good food, while taking part in a little friendly competition.  Other cook-offs are large-scale events with a panel of judges and prizes for winners. One of the most well-known cook-offs is Throwdown! with Bobby Flay, a Food Network TV show in which Chef Bobby Flay challenges cooks renowned for a specific dish or type of cooking to a cook-off of their signature dish.

Bobby Flay is known far and wide as one of the best chefs in the industry, so to get the chance to compete against him in a cook-off is truly an honor. As a resident of Monmouth County, NJ, I was thrilled to hear that Bobby Flay will be competing against Chef Drew Araneo of Drew’s Bayshore Bistro in Keyport as part of New Jersey’s Stronger Than The Storm Campaign. The VooDoo Shrimp Throwdown is free to the public and will take on Thursday, June 27 at 2 p.m. on the Keyport Waterfront. Chef Drew’s VooDoo Shrimp is a Jersey Shore favorite, so this competition is sure to get heated!

I got a chance to speak with Chef Drew about his feelings on cooking with Bobby Flay. He said, “I feel great about it. I’m a little nervous but mostly excited because this is not something you get to do every day. I’ve never met Bobby Flay before, but I heard he’s a great guy so I’m really looking forward to meeting him and doing the cook-off.” I also ask him if he altered his VooDoo Shrimp recipe at all for the competition and he said, “Nah, there’s no reason to change the recipe. It’s great the way it is.” I asked him what his secret ingredient is, but he wouldn’t tell me. He simply laughed and asked me if I was a spy for Bobby Flay. No worries Drew, I’m rooting for you!

Best of luck to both Chef Drew and Chef Bobby Flay! I’m looking forward to seeing what these T-Men bring to the table.

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Avoid “Faking It” On Valentine’s Day with Recipes For Any Day of the Year


Men, why not wing it on Valentine’s Day? No, I’m not suggesting that you present the ladies in your life with Buffalo Wings. Although, I love a good recipe for chicken wings with blue cheese dressing! I’m merely suggesting that you take it easy on the commercialized love stuck occasion by being true to yourself with authentic, simple recipes that please you and your loved ones. A romantic or thoughtful gesture should never be forced and “faking it” is not allowed in the kitchen. Below are a few ideas for serving up some true love for the special women in your life this Valentine’s Day.


  1. Chicken Espanola - From my cookbook’s B.Y.O.B. Chapter, this is a recipe for the ultimate meal pleaser. I’ve given this recipe out so many times I can no longer count. Everyone loves it because you look like a culinary star with only the twist of a salsa jar. Skip the hour or so of chopping up vegetables and still impress the guests, family or friends with this easy dish for any day of the year.
  2. Garlic Bread- You might not think about serving garlic bread on a first date; however, garlic is known as an aphrodisiac because it revs up the blood circulation. Wink. Wink.
  3. Bruschetta – This is my favorite side and topping! I often add bruschetta to Veal Milanese or any grilled meat or fish. It’s also great on a crusty slice of bread with some quality extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top.
  4. Omelet - An omelet is the ultimate gift of love. It’s a simple dish appreciated around the world as a timeless classic. Add any ingredients, and your omelet takes on an entirely new taste and look.
  5. Pancakes - If your family loves pancakes on the weekend, why not make a quick batch for dinner? Breakfast served day or night is always a hit.



  • 1 large jar of your favorite salsa (I prefer Green Mountain Gringo salsa)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 skinless chicken breasts with bone in


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place chicken in a large baking dish.
  3. In the same baking dish, season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder (optional).
  4. Pour jar of salsa over chicken. Make sure chicken is covered.
  5. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Serve with sides such as tortilla chips, sour cream, corn on the cob, or rice.
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2013 Food Trends for Men Who Cook


No doubt men will continue to heat things up in the kitchen in 2013 as they raise their measuring cups to a new year full of flavor and feasting. When I began writing TASTOSTERONE three years ago, I knew men were in need of some tools and tips to start flexing those cooking muscles, but what I wasn’t aware of was that there were many more men cooking than I originally anticipated and found in my market research.

Men are cooking all types of meals, and not just grilling a bangin’ steak or baked potato on the weekend. They’re experimenting with exotic spices, down with dicing veggies, and driving the few extra miles for the “freshest” mozzarella around. So, with that said, we did a little snooping around and highlighted a few of the food trends for 2013 that we thought would interest them. From the incredible edible egg to turning over a new leafy green, these food trends will feed the curiosity of men who love to cook.

Start to an Eggs-cellent Year

Breakfast as they say is the most important meal of the day and nothing is more important to me than my eggs. But then again, what’s for dinner? You’re tired and a little hungry. Reach for the eggs. They’re fast and warm. This is a T-Man’s go to meal! The best part about making eggs is that the cleanup takes seconds.

According to Bon Apetit magazine chefs are ditching chicken eggs in favor of duck eggs in 2013. I wouldn’t have the chickens leave the hen house just yet as those scrambled eggs are still in need of Henny Penny. The flavor of duck eggs is said to be stronger so it’s recommended to enjoy one-at-a-time and to serve them over a green like sautéed spinach to fully enjoy its flavor.

No matter what eggs are cracking in your kitchen this year, the sky is the limit when you cook with eggs, so feel free to be creative and experiment with different ingredients from a variety of herbs or vegetables to your favorite meats. Cream cheese is my favorite ingredient to add to eggs – it makes for a really creamy omelet. A few good eggs, juice and toast are all it takes to make any day of the year. It’s that simple!

Curing Meat heads

Men will love the new trend towards cured meats as predicted by Baumm+Whiteman International Food + Restaurant Consultants. Curing foods in 2013 should heal us of leading a bland life in the New Year. Be sure to make that trip to your local Italian Food Market for those savory slices of preserved meat. The process of curing involves a combination of salt, nitrate, or sugar and may also involve smoking or cooking. Whether you’re in the mood for salami, Bresaola, Prosciutto, or culatello, you’ll find experimenting with the flavors of cured meats exciting for both you and your dinner guests. One of my all time favorite dishes is a simple combination of Prosciutto di Parma and cantaloupe for a flavorful mix of salty sweet.

Just place your sliced or cubed melon on a plate, layer the meat over the melon, add some fresh ground pepper, top with a squeeze of fresh lemon, and enjoy. You can learn all about cured meats, how to make them, and enjoy them on Jason Molinari’s blog. Jason, who is from Italy and lives in Atlanta, is a dedicated meat head and serves up useful information on the curing process, its history, origins, and types of meats.

Keeping It Hot

Last year, TASTOSTERONE chose Mazi Piri Piri as one of our 2012 food trend picks. This sauce is made on the Jersey Shore and is hot, hot, hot! I still love to use a little of its fiery heat in my  recipes, but this year I look forward to trying Gochujang, a Bon Appetit 2013 food trend pick. Gochujang is a savory and pungent fermented Korean condiment made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. Some say it may soon replace Sriracha as the red Asian condiment of choice. I’ll have some recipes for you once I start experimenting. Please share yours as well.

Chicken Out? – No In!

With the price of beef, lamb and pork soaring, restaurants have increasingly looked toward new and interesting preparations of chicken. In TASTOSTERONE, I offer 17 chicken recipes from starters to main courses so I guess you could say I was ahead of the trend! My Kitchen Sink Chicken recipe is straight from my BYOB Chapter and is just the twist of a few bottles from pot to plate. This dish does not require much work to serve a large crowd and its combination of flavors may lead guests to believe you slaved in the kitchen for hours. I recommend serving this dish with couscous, which can be made ahead of time.

Keep It Real with Fresh Ingredients

I find it curious that in addition to cured meats another trend for the year is preservative free foods and fresh ingredients. Home cooking is hopefully on the rise and with that men will be cooking more as well. With mom working longer hours and spending less time in the kitchen, guys are sure to rise to the occasion, conquering the home cooked family meal. Eating at restaurants and take out prove too costly in 2013 and people are craving the basics, including simple ingredients. Take mac and cheese for example, would you ever choose the boxed kind over fresh, cheesy goodness from the pot?

Greens are also gaining popularity. Cruciferous Greens are a #1 food trend pick by the Food Network’s Healthy Eats and Chef Mario Batali. They predict that kale, chard, turnip greens and mustard greens will start making regular appearances at restaurants. Men, why not take cue and start incorporating some greens into your dinner? Why not kale chips with that steak or pork chop?

Predicting your own 2013 food trends and recipes? Post them on Facebook or tweet me.

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