Entertaining Ideas from The Taste Contestants

Entertaining Ideas from The Taste Contestants
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Entertaining Ideas from The Taste Contestants

Check out entertaining tips from Adam Pechal, Ninamarie Bojekian and Uno Immanivong of ABC's The Taste.

Image Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC

Visit a Farmers Market

"Instead of sitting at home and going through recipes to decide what to cook, see what's out there at a farmers market," says Pechal. "You can taste things, talk to the people that grow them and get inspired."

Image Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC

Don't Take On Too Much

Taking on too much may be the biggest kitchen mistake people make, according to Pechal."Focus on doing a few things really well instead."

Image Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC

Add Color

"Even nutritionists say the more colors on your plate, the healthier it is," says Pechal. "Think about that as you put together the dish."

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Use Calabrian Chiles

One of Pechal's favorite ingredients is the Calabrian chile which is used in many spicy Italian sauces. Pechal not only uses the peppers but the oil they are packed in. Try drizzling it on top of minestrone for example. "I almost always have a jar in my refrigerator."

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Sharpen Your Knives

"I can't stress enough [the importance of] a great knife," says Pechal. If you don't know how to sharpen it yourself, get it sharpened on a regular basis. Cutting things the right way and treating foods right from the beginning are so important."

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Think Ahead

"I think lists are great," says Pechal. "They set you up in a goal-oriented manner, and there is nothing more satisfying than to cross things off the list."

Also, try to get things rolling the night before. "Things like sauces and dressings are probably [going to] get better sitting overnight," he says.

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Make your own Salts

Immanivong makes her own flavored salts. She makes a kaffir lime leaf salt which she uses on everything. "It's so easy to make," she assures. Simply deep fry the leaf, dry it out, add it to salt and then use a spice blender. "Now I have it in jars, ready to go."

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Make Your Own Oils

Immanivong not only makes her own salts, but oils as well. She recommends combining chili flakes, some olive oil, salt and a clove of garlic and putting the mixture on low heat for 15 minutes. If you put it in a mason jar, you have a flavorful oil "ready to go."

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Give Away Food Party Favors

"I love pickling things and keeping them in jars," says Immanivong. "I do a lot of gifts in mason jars." The chef pickles radishes, cucumbers or jalapenos and gives them away as party favors in a mason jar with a ribbon.

Image Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC

Use a Crock Pot

"Find food that can sit for a while," says Immanivong. "The crock pot is my best friend. Don't do something you have to babysit."

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Go All In

"My philosophy is that if you are going to cook, make it worth it," explains Bojekian. "Even at home, make it fun, and make it fresh."

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Make the Prep Count

Prepare anything you can ahead of time "that way when you are serving, you can make sure what [should be] hot is hot and what [should be] cold is cold, and you can season last minute," says Bojekian.

Image Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC

Use Your Hands

"You have to touch and feel the salt with your fingers," Bojekian says. "Don't use a salt shaker. I've taught myself how to season more properly by touching the salt; you can gage it, adjust it and control it much better."

Image Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC


"If anything, [The Taste] was like a cooking school on steroids," explains Uno Immanivong, a contestant on the ABC cooking competition, which the network has renewed for a second season. While Immanivong (who is in the process of opening a restaurant in Dallas) referenced learning from the celebrity mentors Nigella Lawson, Anthony Bourdain, Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey and the other contestants, caterer and contestant Ninamarie Bojekian found that the mentors even learned from the contestants at times. "[Bourdain] really felt like he could learn as much from us as we could for him," she says. "He allowed us to show him things as well."

Contestant and professional chef Adam Pechal, on the other hand, tended to follow his gut. "You have one hour [so] you don't really have time to second guess yourself or experiment with someone else's ideas," he explains. "I always stuck to myself."

Wherever they found inspiration, all three contestants have plenty of experience cooking for guests from which we can learn. Not only have they cooked for friends, family and patrons but for four of the toughest "dinner guests," the four mentors of The Taste.

Check out the slideshow above to learn the ultimate tricks, tips and secrets to cooking for guests and entertaining from the knowledgeable contestants.

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