If Jared can do it at Subway, it seems it can be done at McDonalds.  Chris Coleson from Richmond, VA is being showcased for his recent weight loss of 85# since December eating a diet of McDonald’s apple-walnut salads, snack wraps, and cheeseburgers.  Read more at SeriousEats


McDonald’s gets a bum rap for their fat-food fare, but let’s all be honest. They serve what we want. Now we are asking for something different and they are responding – salads, low-fat wraps, grilled chicken sandwiches, non-fat dairy desserts – these are some of the healthy options – what else are we asking for? High-sugar, high-fat, high-calorie blended coffee drinks!  Maybe this is only two steps forward and one step back?


Post in the comments and let us know what YOU think!


I love to cook almost as much as I love to eat and I try to learn everything I can from the real professionals – I love to sit down with a chef and just chat about his craft.

 This week Chowbelly interviews local private chef, Randy Wilder who was trained at the culinary institute at Johnson & Wales University in Charleston, SC – now there’s a spot ripe with culinary sensations!

 The Triangle\'s Premier Private Chef

Chef Wilder has worked in some of the area’s most prestigious kitchens but currently works as a private chef providing private, personal dining events in The Triangle.


Chef Wilder, what made you decide to become a professional chef?

 As I was growing up I was always on my mother’s hip watching her cook and asking questions. Eventually she let me help. By middle school I was cooking 3-4 dinners a week for my family. I loved watching cooking TV shows like Julia Child, Jacque Pepin, Yan Can Cook, and The Frugal Gourmet. By the time I was 14 or 15 I had pretty much decided that I loved the craft and that I wanted to be a chef.


So where has your career taken you and what are you doing now?

I have been very fortunate to work for some amazing chefs. In Atlanta I worked at Carbo’s Cafe, Blue Ridge Grill, The Abbey, Anthony’s. After moving to Raleigh, I worked for John Toler at Bloomsbury Bistro honing my skills. When he opened The Cosmopolitan in Cary I was offered the position of Chef de Cuisine in charge of daily menu execution and the staff. There I learned that my passion is events with multi-course, wine-paired formats such as the Triangle Wine Experience.  I love the relationship between food and wine. That passion led me to launch my personal chef business that focuses on private, personal, multi-course, wine-paired dinners in private homes.  I provide everything necessary for groups of 6 to 16 – linens, stemware, china, silverware – everything needed to entertain at the highest level without lifting a finger.

Who, in your personal life has influenced your cooking the most?

I have worked with many very talented people over the years. John Toler, chef/owner of Bloomsbury Bistro in Raleigh, has been the greatest influence on me. He has a unique approach and has impeccable standards. I really enjoyed the six years that I worked with him.


Do you have a favorite cookbook?

 I love the French Laundry Cookbook – it’s just beautiful. The Joy of Cooking, however, is my all time favorite. It covers it all!


What are your three most important cooking tools or gadgets?

 I’m a big fan of a good blender for great soups. You have to have a chinois for straining stocks and sauces, and I’d be lost without my Wustof Grand Prix Santuko.


Describe you most memorable meal – where was it, who were you with, why was it memorable?

 A few years back, my wife Tara and I travelled to wine country in California. We had an opportunity to eat at The French Laundry. We ordered a 9-course pre-fixe menu which ended up being about 12 courses! The food was amazing and Anthony Bourdain was taping his show “A Cook’s Tour” there. We got the chance to go into the kitchen and watch for a few minutes. Truly inspiring!


Do you have any advice for someone who wants to take it up a level at home and recreate some of the amazing dishes we have in favorite restaurants or see on television?

Try to learn as much as you can about the dish you are preparing. If you want to make something you had at a restaurant, don’t be afraid to call the chef, ask questions. Then try it. And if it doesn’t turn out the way you hoped, try again! Practice makes perfect.


What would you pursue if you knew you couldn’t fail and money was no object?

If money wasn’t an object I’d love to open a soup-kitchen for the less fortunate where I could offer well-prepared meals with excellent ingredients to warm people’s soul.


After speaking with Chef Wilder I really want to run out and take a look at The French Laundry cookbook!  I am really glad I got a chance to talk to Randy – if you have any questions or comments for him let him know by posting a Comment.

Watch for more exciting interviews with Chef’s from your favorite restaurants and beyond!


You might know that as I get more interested in using a particular ingredient – in this case, Honey, the prices sky-rocket and it becomes haute cuisine!! The Los Angeles Times has a great write-up about the complexity and depth in the various varieties of Honey!

The decadent dessert pictured above is a Wildflower Honey Shortcake with strawberries and honey-pinenut gelato and is served at Craft in Century City, CA.

Do you have a favourite dish that employs Honey? A favorite restaurant that has something equally as decadent? Let us know in the comments!

~ Chow!

According to a Reuters report today, fewer Americans consider themselves daily coffee-drinkers.  It seems like more Americans are drinking what the report considers gourmet coffee (17% up from 14% in a 2007 survey) but overall those who consider themselves daily coffee-drinkers fell from 57% to 55%.  The biggest gap was in the 18-to-24 year old group where consumption fell from 37% in 2007 down to 26% in 2008.

Click here to read the Reuters article

 What do you think? Does this agree with your personal habits? Post a comment and let me know – as for me and mine? We are Starbucks addicts.

Rachel, Jack and I have recently started attending gracepoint, a community church in Pittsboro, NC. The people there have been amazing and the worship really helps us find our “grace” point. The Lead Navigator, Terry Dorsey, is an amazingly sweet soul who is akin to a cross between the Energizer Bunny and Zig Ziglar – positive energy defined! 

Earlier this week Rachel had another saliva gland removed (remember last June?) This time it was the larger sub-mandibular gland with an attached cyst the size of a golfball! Poor thing is really in a lot of pain and swollen up like a chipmunk! Our new friends at gracepoint have been wonderful calling to check on us, emailing and bringing us amazing meals that have been truly God-sent! For those of you who know how much I like to cook and eat, you can bet I am looking forward to an opportunity to repay their hospitality!!

If Martha or Connie happen to read this – Thank you so much for the wonderful meals!!

Those of you who know me, know I'm a reality-tv whore – ok, its out! I love reality shows – except the relationship ones! So it's no great stretch to think that I might like FOOD reality TV, right?  Currently there are 2 great shows out there: Top Chef on Bravo and The Next Food Network Star on The Food Network .  The only thing better than watching talented chefs cook is watching them fight about it, agonize over it and perform under pressure. I cant say that I have learned anything from either of these shows – but they sure are more entertaining than the current 30 minute sit-com fodder or the hour-long crime dramas that litter the airwaves!

Now for a cooking note: Watching Giada earlier this week, she made pan-fried pork chops that were breaded in a 3 step process:
Step1: Dredge the cutlets in grated parmesan cheese
Step2: A quick run through an egg bath
Step3: Another dredging in italian bread crumbs

This makes a wonderfully tasting breading for chicken cutlets, pork chops, Tilapia – just about any meat – MmmMmmmm

Mucky Duck Sweet & Tangy Pub Style Mustard

This is one of my favorite Michigan-made products! But I have not been able to find it anywhere here in North Carolina.  If you have enjoyed this product from my homestate, PLEASE let me know where I can find it! Mr. Harris? Mr. Teeter? Mr.(or is it Ms.?)Lowes? Anybody?

If you have a favorite small, specialty grocer, butcher shop, bakery or any other local shop you think I might like PLEASE let me know and I will post a review of my experience here.

Today we had a potluck dinner after church. We attend Holly Springs Moravian Church (Whats Moravian? in Holly Springs, NC.  I cooked up two wonderful pork butts, but this time I added a little something extra to the finishing sauce – a tablespoon of honey.  Everyone always comments “Not bad for a Yankee Boy!” – I’ll take that as a compliment!  The honey really seemed to add an interesting color to the mixture of flavors.  Rachel made an awesome yellow cake with cooked buttercream frosting (watch for my Mom’s recipe to be posted here soon) and coconut – a great spring-time tradition in our family!  When I was young, my Mom would make this cake for Easter, adding green food colouring to the coconut and nestling brightly coloured jelly-beans in the “grass”. 

Tell us about Your Spring food traditions! Click on Comments below to post your thoughts.

Chow Down!