Jason Nuzzo lives in the Washington, D.C. area. He also happens to be a good beer fan, a homebrewer, and a home cook.
In December of 2008, he got the chance to combine all three interests with chef Emeril Lagasse. He won the opportunity to cook with the chef —and, at least with one dish, to use his own homebrew as an ingredient.
It all airs Monday evening, tonight (10 August 2009), on Discovery Channel's Planet Green. The 30-minute program will air several times, but initially at 8PM. The segment is called "What's Brewing".
The show's premise is on cooking within parameters of the green movement, but by using easily purchased ingredients.
Jason took it one step further.
When open casting was announced, he informed the producers that he often entertains large groups at his house and would like to learn more about cooking with beer, that is, cuisine de la biere. (YFGF wonders how to inveigle an invitation to Jason's house, now that he's received his Emeril training!)
Jason did a screen test, and succeeded against the other contestants. " I didn't come across as too goofy," he laughed.
The segment was shot 7 December 2008 at the Whole Foods in the Fair Lakes region of Fairfax, Virginia. It features Jason, Chef Emeril, and Chef Sal, a corporate chef for the Whole Foods chain. Jason was also assisted by his friend Yong, who may or may not have made the final cut. "We'll wait and see," Jason said. Other parts of the program were shot at Clipper City Brewing Company in Baltimore, Maryland.
Emeril prepares four different dishes, which could, together in one evening, comprise a great dinner:
- A salad with a dressing prepared with Oxford Organic Raspberry Wheat (from Clipper City Brewing of Baltimore, Maryland.)
- Asian Style Mussels Meuniere. cooked in an organic India Pale Ale (from Wolaver's of Vermont.)
- A choucroute, (a stew of sausage, sausage, sausage ... and some sauerkraut) prepared with Jason' own homebrew, a porter (dark ale) infused with coriander, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves.
- Espresso ice cream, churned with Peak Organic Espresso Ale. (Emeril emphatically adds an "x" to espresso, almost as if he's defying you to correct his pronunciation. Jason, being the invited gracious guest, demurs.
- Chef Emeril discusses organic beers with Lee Hitchins, the beer manager for the Whole Foods Market in Fairfax, Virginia.
- Emeril cooking the choucroute.
- Emeril making the stout/espresso ice cream. (Emeril emphatically adds an "x" to espresso, almost as if he's defies you to correct his pronunciation. Jason doesn't. After all, it IS Emeril's show and Jason is a gracious guest.
"It was a great time," Nuzzo said. "It was nice because the whole premise of the show was to support the green movement. The products are grown organically and locally. It's trying to cut down on the carbon footprint."
He said his home brew proved particularly popular with show staff.
"They took it out back and drank the rest of it," he said.
"Anything else," I asked?
Other than saying "okay" once too often, Jason thought the experience was "a blast." He found Emeril to be gracious and laid-back, but, befitting teh chef's skill and celebrity status, he was "definitely intense." (After all, Emeril is known to spontaneously exclaim, "BAM!)
"I would do it again," said Jason. "Considering that some stories about beer only emphasize stupid drinking tricks, programs like this will be beneficial for the craft brewing scene."
More photos from the day of the shoot: here.