Aida Mollenkamp Show: FoodCrafters, Mondays at 10PM ET

Backstory: “I was like Wizard of Oz behind the scenes and worked in a test kitchen developing recipes for six years at Chow.com. At Chow, we went from print to online. The Food Network saw me in a video and we launched the show Ask Aida. It was like [the NPR show] Car Talk but for foodies. I was like a female Alton Brown because I wanted to know the whys and the hows and was really happy when [Alton] gave me a pat on the back for my work once. The whole time, I really come into my own with my food voice in the Bay area. And being a native of California, there were all these people that weren’t getting their stories told. When the Cooking Channel said they wanted to do a show about artisans, I said, ‘This is my dream job.’ On FoodCrafters we go around the nation in search of the best artisanal products.  Point raised blue cheese, I’ve roasted coffee and made kim chi. It’s been this love affair where we find all our favorite products, go make the products and come back and tell their back story.”

Meet The Stars Of The Cooking Channel: David Rocco

Aida’s Backstory: “My parents always wanted us to be renaissance people so they made us do everything and at one point I was playing three instruments and a million sports and it just got to be too much and I just needed to calm down. I thought I was going to be a ballerina and all these things and then I tore my ACL. That’s when and I focused and saw my mom in the kitchen and I was like, ‘That’s actually what I want to be doing!’ I grew up with huge Sunday meals—my mom is second generation Italian but still upheld those traditions and my step-mother is French so I was really fortunate to be raised by two very skilled home cooks. As I got into cooking, everyone thought it was just my passion. But, when I decided I wanted my passion to be my career, I think everyone was a little bit leery. I’m very analytical and I used to be a math dork in high school and won all these awards. I followed it slowly but surely. I feel like the biggest lesson I’ve learned from it is how much good you can do when you do what you love.”

Meet The Stars Of The Cooking Channel: Chuck Hughes

San Francisco High: “We finished the season of FoodCrafters at Bi Rite market in San Francisco which is my favorite market. It’s the utopia for food people—they have all local produce and perfect butcher counter. I want to die and go to heaven in Bi Rite market. I walked in there and now, San Francisco people don’t talk. We’re not a gossipy community it takes a lot to impress people. There are a lot of cynical, intellectual people and this butcher said to me, ‘I never heard such a buzz about something like the Cooking Channel and FoodCrafters.’ And in San Francisco, the devil is mass media and to see people that are cynical be excited—it’ll be interesting.”

Food Idols: “I did recipe development and recipe writing and food styling. So for food styling, I look up to Donna Hay. She inspired me to keep things very simple. For cooking, I look up to people like Jamie Oliver’s genre who are foodies but doing it in a modern way. But then there are people like Jose Andres who I would never attempt to cook their style of food but I find them very inspiring. I can remember the exact moment when I first ate [Jose Andres’] food. It’s cool when you have a completely different style but in the food community, if you’re doing it right and it’s good—I’m going to love it. The Cooking Channel pulls back the curtain a little bit and shows you whole different side to food industry.”

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