Play it here. Video runs 8 minutes, 20 seconds.
When I started The 99 Cent Chef five years ago food blogs with videos were just beginning to appear on the internet. Noticing how easy it was to upload videos, I decided to start my food blog. I've always followed television cooking shows: from The French Chef with Julia Child (I watched as a teenager,) to the unveiling of the Food Network. What I noticed lacking where tasty recipes cheap enough for anyone to make, presented with a bit of wit.
This Grinchy Chef does not live for recipes alone, heck that's no fun. I like to mix it up, so my blog delves into many food related themes. If you look on the right side of this blog and scroll down just a little bit, you'll see different groups of videos that are just a click away, including: Recipes, Comedy, Restaurant Reviews and Documentaries. Or you can go to YouTube and subscribe here to see all my videos.
My nephew Chef Zakk
There were no silver spoons on my dinner table growing up -- my mother was a waitress for some years and I was exposed to the working class side of the restaurant business. Counting my Mom's tips after her shift, I grew up literally pinching pennies.
I like the challenge of creating scrumptious meals using inexpensive ingredients. And this blog is dedicated to working stiffs, struggling-to-pay-tuition students, retirees living on Social Security, and families (without health insurance) living on minimum wage. You can just get by, and still eat well. I moved to Los Angeles when I turned 21, knowing nobody, and with only a few hundred bucks in my wallet -- so I learned how to stretch a dollar in the big city.
For my blog I create appetizers, side dishes and entrees with ingredients costing 99.99 cents or less, that I cull from 99c only Stores, ethnic markets, and regular grocery stores. I include fresh fruit and veggies in my recipes, too (that I get on sale for way less than a dollar per pound.) You won't find many recipes using beef, but I've created plenty of delicious entrees using economic chicken and pork. (Like my go-to recipe of French Cassoulet that combines roasting chicken with white beans - so good.) You won't go hungry reading The 99 Cent Chef food blog, and you'll be entertained along the way with playful prose, eye candy photos, and clever videos.
I began this just as economy crashed -- then things started happening fast, and after 6 months I was a chintzy food expert on NBC's Nighty News and NPR Marketplace!
The Chintzy Chef & Brendan Francis Newnam of NPR radio
I've been steadily cranking out videos like a fast food burger slinger - quick and tasty, like my one minute Coffee Comedy shorts; or sometimes it's a Wolvesmouth-like tasting menu involving 8 unique video small plates illustrating my trip to Seattle for a Public TV cooking segment (on the menu was a Thanksgiving twist I called Stuffing Cupcakes.) You'll never know what I'll come up with, so do check back.
Stuffing Cupcakes with Cranberry Frosting & Gravy
I also started this blog to make some fun food videos. They've got to be the most unique cuisine collection of video shorts on the internet: from a recipe for Pasta alla Carbonara with Bacon Bits, to a "Don't Eat and Drive" Public Service Announcement video; and food travelogs, including a search for a 99 cent Shrimp Cocktail in Las Vegas, and family vacations in Louisiana, chowing-down on Cajun cuisine (Alligator Po' Boy anyone?) to funny behind the scenes footage of my appearance on the Cooking Channels Food(ography). You won't see a more diverse and out-there personal cooking blog on the web.
Pasta alla Carbonara with Bacon Bits
As you can see I do more than just rattle pots and pans -- when I get out of the kitchen that's when the fun really begins. Living in Los Angeles, I get a thrill introducing my blog visitors to our melting pot food culture. You can check out my month long series of videos on our exploding food truck scene, including the one that jump started it all, Kogi Taco Truck. I covered it's travels through the streets night and day. When chef Roy Choi added Korean BBQ onto a Mexican tortilla he created a culinary sensation, and an avalanche of unique food trucks followed. I still think Kogi Taco Truck is the top dog.
You wouldn't know it, but Los Angeles is fast becoming the Hot Dog Capital of the World. Well, I did another video series on some of my favorite temples to tube steak. There are Soul Dogs topped with yams and collard greens, and carts selling wieners made from heirloom, grass fed and hormone free, animals (check out my video on Let's Be Frank, here.)
But, I would say the epicenter is way out in the Valley, at Fabs Hot Dogs, located in an outdoor mall (wouldn't you know it.) The owner, Joe Fabrocini, travels throughout the country picking up regional recipes like the Kansas City Dog, Carolina Slaw Dog, New Jersey Ripper and our own LA Street Dog. And he does them to perfection, including a Chicago Dog topped with neon green pickle relish -- and be sure to check out my radioactive reaction after ingesting one! And as a bonus I shot a video recipe of a bacon wrapped LA Street Dog.
Marilyn's Soul Food Express. And just down the street on Crenshaw Boulevard are the Pulitzer Prize food winner Jonathan Gold's recommended hot dogs at Earlez Grille. Rub elbows with the chefs, colorful customers, and the raconteur owner, Duane -- for hot dogz in the hood.
Just this year I introduced a unique way to present my cheap and delicious recipes -- using stop motion animation and time lapse photography. These short videos give you step-by-step instructions presented succinctly, while retaining my clever and fun antics. (Plus, you don't have to look at my mug!) To see what I mean just click on the video compilation below:
A Year of Stop Motion Food Animation
Play it here. Video runs 2 minutes, 16 seconds.
By background is in art, film, video editing and street photography. All these disciplines come together in my filmic series, Restaurant Nocturnes. This Noir-Eyed Chef likes nothing better than cruising neon splashed nighttime Los Angeles streets and shooting restaurant facades -- this is when they look the coolest. And as a bonus I collect audio menu descriptions for each one, so this series is groovy to look at, and you learn their culinary stance.
With 11 Restaurant Nocturnes under my belt I've only scratched the Teflon surface of LA's dining scene. I compile a bakers dozen eateries in each Nocturne, and I include every kind of cafe: from Top Chef season 6 winner Michael Voltaggio's hip ink. restaurant on Melrose Avenue, to Chinatown's Hop Louie, a time capsule constructed in the 1940's.
I also started a anthropological series called First Bites. I'm shooting my now 2 1/2 year old neighbor, Lola, tasting her first sushi California Roll, wheatgrass, asparagus and many more ingredients. It's a hilarious series that I will be revisiting. 99 thanks to her parents Bob and Lori. I've also started shooting a Southern version called Miles First Cajun Bite, that includes tasting: crawfish, jambalaya and cheese grits -- the kid not only eats it, but wears it! Click on a title above so see a sample of these too cute L 'Enfant Terribles.
Lola's First Bite
My food blog would be anemic without the contributions of family, friends, restaurants and their staffs. Anytime you see me in a video, there is someone helping me shoot it (especially Amy, Pete, and Bob) and I owe them 99 thanks. And it's so much better when I can get my Mom, sisters and my young buck nephews, Chef Matt and Chef Zakk, on camera. They are fun to hang out with, plus they make look good.
Finally, thanks to all my blog visitors for your time and comments. Subscribe and keep coming back as I have a cupboard full of recipes, videos and fun food ideas to share with you!
5th Anniversary Video YouTube link (to view full size) click here
One Year of Stop Motion Animation YouTube link click here