As part of my super duper role as a blog ambassador for ConAgra Foods, I recently had the pleasure of being able to interview celebrity chef George Duran! You’ve seen him on Food Network, now check out what he had to say to FOODe about his career, background and recipe suggestions for busy moms:
FOODe: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions! I imagine that you are beyond busy. What’s a typical day like for you?
George Duran: Every day is a different day for me actually. For example, today I’ve been working with a NYC artist to create these chef portraits in conjunction with their famous dish. It’s a project about color, food, and passion. Often I’m traveling throughout the US and there are quite a few months that I’m in production. So it’s really a mixed bag.
FOODe: I am in awe of your story – majoring in Communications in college, a successful career in Radio and TV…and then culinary school in France? (You won’t believe this but I am living a parallel life – I majored in Telecommunications with a specialization in Radio & TV, with plans to produce awards shows and then I took a detour to law school, and now find myself obsessed with cooking.) How did you decide to turn your hobby into a career and make the leap to culinary school?
GD: I’ve always had a passion for mass media and communications. I worked in radio on the air in NYC for quite some time and then began working in television production. From there I decided to host in music television as a VJ, but I wasn’t passionate about it. I realized that food was something I loved too much and had quite a few great ideas for food shows. So I decided to move to France to study French cuisine and in less than a year I was introduced to the French cooking network (Cuisine TV). Before you know it I was hosting a show for them! A couple of years later I returned to the US and the rest is history!
FOODe: A nice trend in food pop culture these days seems to be an emphasis on ethnic cuisine. How has your Armenian and Venezuelan background influenced your cooking?
GD: Everything you’ve tasted throughout your life will influence what you taste today. As an Armenian growing up in Venezuela I was exposed to a vibrant culinary world and that is what made me open up my mind (and palate) to all foods.
FOODe: I have a copy of your cookbook, “Take This Dish and Twist It” that I received at Blissdom 2010 in Nashville (where your cooking demo was great, by the way!) You feature some really fun dishes – are there any that you think are especially great for kids?
GD: There are so many kids (and adults!) that hate brussels sprouts and I believe I have solved the problem with my Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts recipe. In fact, I’m often asked to do culinary demos for children and I have kids taste steamed and unflavored brussels sprouts and then my balsamic brussels sprouts. They instantly fall in love with it!
FOODe: As as spokesperson for Hunt’s, what are some of your favorite recipes that incorporate the products? My household can never have too many cans of diced tomatoes on hand!
GD: Becoming a spokesperson for Hunt’s was a dream come true as I have been passionate about their tomatoes most of my life. My all-time favorite recipe has got to be my Oven Roasted Tomato Bruschetta. I take the Hunt’s Tomatoes and add some herbs and garlic and roast them slowly in the oven. What comes out is a deep-flavored tomato topping that is out of this world!
FOODe: I am a (very) busy mom and many of my readers are crunched for time in getting meals on the table for their families; what’s your “go-to” recipe for when you need a quick but tasty meal?
GD: This day and age I hear so many stories from moms about needing that quick “go-to” recipe for their families, and I created a recipe for Hunt’s that really solves this dilemma: Quick and Easy Coq au Vin. Believe it or not, you don’t have to be a French chef to create this masterpiece! But honestly, I’ve been recently getting a lot of ideas for some quick recipes for dinner from ReadySetEat.com. I find it to be by far the simplest website to use for delicious recipes made in record time!
As you all know, I’ve been reviewing recipes for ReadySetEat.com for the past few months and I’m loving their simple and fast recipes. When I have exactly 30 minutes to get dinner on the table for my family after I walk in the door from work, it’s nice to be able to check out that site for recipes that don’t require tons of ingredients. I usually have everything required for any particular recipe on hand, which is nice. No need to run to the store for an exotic vegetable or special ingredient.
If you’re looking for some fresh ideas for dinner, you’re in luck – Chef Duran and partner to ConAgra Foods have simplified the weeknight dinner routine with two quick and easy weeknight recipes that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less:
Don’t those both look yum? I think I might give these wraps a try in my girls’ lunches. If you haven’t visited ReadySetEat.com yet, you really should. Whether you’re cooking for two or ten, the site offers busy people a faster, smarter way to dinner.
This post is part of a series of on-going content coverage for Con Agra Foods. While I’ve been compensated by the brand, my thoughts are always my own.