Chef Christine Hazel was a contestant on the competitive reality show Hell’s Kitchen in season 14. We spoke with Hazel about her career growth, charity work, pop-up dining events and more.
Hell’s Kitchen was an opportunity to learn from one of the world’s premier chefs, Chef Gordon Ramsey. Being on the show also provided motivation for her push to become even better.
“It took two years after we filmed for the show to air. I grew so much from that time on. It made me determined to show the world that I was even better than I was on the show. I made sure that I was not presenting myself in a negative light. It’s very important for my career to have integrity. For people to not see me for being there just for television. I came back and used my social media, but used my work so everyone knows my name. I’ve grown so much. I’m on a mission. It’s been a whirlwind since then.”
If you’re looking to step up your cooking game, she offers two big pieces of advice to put you on the road to a successful food experience.
“Number one, they can always go to any of my social media and get some fun recipes. The most important thing is to remember to season and taste as you go. I find that a lot of home cooks are afraid of salt. Make sure that you season your food. You won’t be able to taste the flavors that you’re putting in their if you don’t. If you’re tasting as you go, you will understand what it needs.
Don’t be afraid to have fun with it. You don’t have to follow recipes exactly. Get creative. Put your own spin on it. Have fun with food.”
Enhancing, bringing out flavor and experimentation all come with the territory of being a chef. Combining her favorite hard ciders with food is a science that she enjoys.
“Woodchuck Cider and Bold Rock Cider are up there as my favorites. I’ve written recipes for both. I love pairing food with wine, cider and beer. It enhances the flavor of the food and the cocktails. It’s a whole other experiment and adventure. It’s a science. I have a very science driven background. That comes naturally for me. I really, really enjoy it. I love bringing out the flavors. It’s part of our job as chefs to understand how things balance each other out.”
Are you looking to impress at your next tailgating or homegating event? Chef Hazel gives us some of her creations that will deliver the “wow” factor. She offers two of her many great recipes that are packed full of flavor. The first is her French Onion Sloppy Joe, which you can find the recipe here. Second, is her Cabot Cheddar Apples, Crispy Bacon and Woodchuck Cider Caramel recipe found below.
Cabot Cheddar Apples, Crispy Bacon, Woodchuck Cider Caramel
|3 pounds of Apples (Peeled, Cored, and Sliced into 1/4” slices)
½ pound Bacon, cooked (reserve Bacon Fat)
¼ cup All-Purpose Flour
¼ cup Unsalted Butter
3 Cups Whole Milk
2 ½ Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 1/2 Cups Cabot Cheddar Cheese (Shredded or cubed)
Salt to taste
Chives for garnish
|WoodChuck Cider Caramel
1 cup Woodchuck Cider Amber
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Unsalted butter, cubed
1/3 cup Heavy Cream
- Place sugar in a non-stick pan and warm on low heat. Watch sugar as it browns and begins to caramelize. When all sugar is melted remove from heat. Slowly whisk in cubed butter. Whisk until dissolved.
- Return to low heat and cook for 1 minute. Add heavy cream. Continue to whisk. Cook for an additional minute.
- Add Woodchuck Cider and whisk until sauce is smooth. Cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Saute bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and chop into small bits. Pour bacon fat through a fine strainer to remove particles. Poor strained fat on sliced apples and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Bake apples for 15-20 minutes at 350F until tender but still “Al Dente”.
- Melt ¼ cup butter in sauce pot. Add flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until looks wet sand. Cook while stirring for 2-3 more minutes. Warm milk.
- Slowly add warm milk while whisking constantly. Stir between intervals and allow sauce to thicken. After all milk is added continue to stir for 5 minutes and allow sauce to thicken more.
- Add Dijon mustard, cayenne and 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Add ½ of the Cabot Cheddar Cheese. Whisk until melted.
- Add remaining cheese and whisk until melted. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
- Toss apples in cheese sauce. Top with Bacon, drizzle with Woodchuck Caramel, and top with chives.
Giving back to charity is an important component of Hazel’s life. A Philadelphia native, she sees a wide range of needs in her area and is doing her part to help raise awareness and funds for several charities. Some of the charities that she works with include the United Way of Philadelphia and Southern Jersey, Autism Speaks, Mums for Mutts and Reality Rally (Michelle’s Place).
“I started getting involved about two years ago. I did the Taste of the Quarter at the Tropicana down in Atlantic City. That is an event that benefits the United Way of Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. I ended up partnering with them about doing some work to fight hunger and raise awareness about found insecurity. Kids go to school every day hungry and it made me really sad. I’ve been on a nonstop mission to make sure that people are aware of the food insecurity issues that we have here in Philadelphia.”
On November 9, Hazel is taking part in a special fundraiser to benefit Mums and Mutts. The menu features five courses and is inspired by the Prohibition Era of the 1920’s.
“I’m doing a Prohibition-style Speak Easy. We’re pairing it with Jack Daniels Single Barrel. That’s a new adventure for me. I get to try the samples, create the cocktails and really come up with some fun food that’s inspired from the 1920’s.
It’s not just asking people to donate. If they get something out of it, it’s definitely more intriguing to people. If they get to come and have five courses and get some cocktails with it, people are way more likely to get involved. Then maybe they’ll do something on their own or come to one of the other events. One of my priorities is giving back to the community. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Want to stay on top of the latest events and creations by Chef Christine Hazel? Make sure to follow her social media accounts:
Facebook: Chef Christine Hazel