Jeffrey’s Redemption: Asparagus Risotto

risotto tableAnyone who chooses to be on a reality television show and have their life on display for the world to see is either a narcissist, a lunatic, or a masochist … or all of the above. (I am sure the same can be said about bloggers but that’s for another time). But love them or hate them, you have to admit that these people have some serious balls to willingly jump into a fish bowl emotionally and in some unfortunate occasions literally, naked.

I am not much of a reality show watcher but I do enjoy watching a certain few skill-based shows, where contestants display some kind of talent to earn their 15 minutes of fame.  I think I enjoy watching The Next Food Network Star because it requires everyone to bring special something to the table, and it’s less cat fight and more competition, without some angry chef screaming at all times. Most of the contestants seem to respect and support each other (expect for a few who tried to throw their fellow contestants under the bus) and although that is probably not made for good television, I like the friendly exchanges of chefs and home cooks with different culinary point of view that surround the kitchen counter every week.

The drama may not come from each other on this show, but there certainly is a fair share of it to go around, especially from the judges (not Bob, Susie or Bobby but the other, guest judges). I don’t know if they take some kind of pleasure in shredding these poor contestants into pieces but they sure do a fine job at making them feel worthless.  (And the irony of it all is that many of them are former contestants of other reality shows who too received their own share of verbal beating.)  I especially cringed when Jeffery, one of the finalists, served a plate of risotto to a table full of culinary elites in last week’s episode, and received not lukewarm but ice cold feedback, many stating that it was the worst risotto they’ve EVER had!  Ouch!

risottoBut fans of Jeffery can rest assure that he is, indeed, a wonderful chef, despite a little hiccup. I know this because I went to Pomodoro for dinner the other night for a casual Italian grub with my boyfriend and was pleasantly greeted by Asparagus Risotto that Jeffery collaborated with Pomodoro’s Chef Adiano as part of its seasonal offerings. Being the culinary ambulance chaser that we are (just me, actually), we had to order it and to my surprise, it was quite delicious. My boyfriend was a little hesitant to give the dish the thumbs way up, but I thought the Arborio rice was perfectly cooked with the bite still in tact, and the rich flavor of the cheese made the experience very flavorful and satisfying. We ordered the half order of the risotto and split it as an appetizer, along with roasted beets and arugula salad, which helped whet my appetite for Bistecca, grilled skirt steak dinner.

I know that Pomodoro is a chain restaurant and it doesn’t complete with those wonderfully cozy mom-and-pop Italian diners around the corner, but I actually find it to be pretty pleasant.  The food is ordinary at best but the pesto that accompanies the bread basket is very delicious.  It’s definitely one of those chain restuarnts that actually doesn’t suck.

jeffrey and melissaThe season finale of The Next Food Network Star is this Sunday and I will be happy with either Jeffrey or Melissa to be crowned the next big thing on Food Network. Unlike the last year’s winner who I didn’t care too much for, I will certainly watch Jeffrey or Melissa’s show when it goes on air after the finale because of their charming personalities and their down-to-earth approach to cooking. And as long as they don’t turn out to be as annoying as Ms. EVOO, I will be a happy camper.

Pasta Pomodoro
21600 Victory Blvd, Woodland Hills, CA 91367

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