Interview with Cooking Channel's Eden Grinshpan of 'Eden Eats'

Eden Grinshpan’s passion for cooking exotic dishes began right after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in London where she received a “Grande Diploma” in both Pastry and Cuisine. After graduating, Eden traveled around the globe to such places as India, Southeast Asia and Israel enjoying the diversity in taste, spices and flavor in ethnic foods, as well as getting to know the people through volunteer work.

After returning to the States, Eden wanted to share her experience with other foodies that love cultural food just as much as she does. She created a popular food blog, Eden Eats, showcasing various “immigrant eateries” across the U.S. and posting her delicious recipes as well. Last year, Eden’s new show, also called Eden Eats, debuted on the Cooking Channel. On the show, Eden proves that international food is closer to home than you might think.

TheCelebrityCafe.com: What inspired you to want to go to culinary school?

Eden: Well, I’ve always loved food. I’m a big eater. I love to experiment and try new foods. In high school, I decided I had more of a passion for it than I did for studies. So I decided to go to culinary school and pursue what I always wanted - feeding people and sharing things that I’ve learned with them.

TCC: Do you come from a family that enjoys international food as well?

Eden: Yes, I do actually. I grew up in Toronto, which is the most multicultural city in the world. Growing up my father would bring home food from all the different ethnic neighborhoods. I really kind of fell into this world of enjoying ethnic cuisines because of him; he really has a passion for it as well.

TCC: What is your show, Eden Eats, about?

Eden: Our show is based on immigrant communities in America and how they reclaim their culture and customs thru food. We travel to a different city in every episode. The show is actually shot within 24 hours as we cover about seven different cultures within each episode.

TCC: Oh, wow, that sounds interesting!

Eden: It is -- it’s fascinating and we get to see all the different kinds of people that come to each city and learn why they came. Also, learn about the community that surrounds them; learn about what they brought with them and what it was like living in their country back home.

TCC: Usually ethnic dishes require using lard or lots of butter, how can a person make such fattening meals healthier?

Eden: A lot of recipes do require pork lard or random kinds of, you know, ‘lots of butter’ but what I tend to do is substitute it with healthier fats. I usually try to cut back a little on the amount that the recipe calls for because I usually find it doesn’t need that much. You could use canola oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, or grape seed oil. There are so many kinds of delicious, healthier fats now. So it makes it easier for us.

TCC: What advice would you give to beginning cooks when it comes to using spices? How can they use them without being overwhelmed by the variety or taste?

Eden: I would recommend sticking to spices that they’re used to, but to explore them in dishes that they’re not used to. By taking something that you know of or use everyday like cinnamon, cumin, chili powder or paprika and trying them out in new dishes that require the same spices it might help them get more used to the common spices. Once they explore those familiar spices then they can start to use other more exotic spices.

TCC: When I think of cooking international dishes it makes me think that it’s really time consuming, how can a person with a busy schedule try to simplify an ethnic dish?

Eden: What I would do is research the dish before preparing it. [I would] probably marinate whatever protein I’ll be using the night before. It gets that out of the way. Then I would put together a salad with some interesting vinaigrette or spices. For vegetables, I would do a quick sauté the day of. The spices are a really sensitive part, so it’s easier to kind of whip up vegetables as a side dish, especially if you worry about the marinating process the night before.

TCC: What’s your personal favorite dish and dessert you love to make?

Eden: I cook very hearty, flavorful food-lots of different food. I personally love to make Moroccan tagines because everything gets thrown into one pot. When it’s done you can just put it on the table and serve. For desserts, I love making baklava and a lot of crunchy, kind of syrupy desserts. Also, I make mango sticky rice that I prepare very quickly. I explore lots of different cuisines that I’m always trying out in my kitchen.

TCC: In your travels around the world, what is the strangest food you ever tried?

Eden: It would have to be balut. I had it on the pilot, Eden Eats. It’s a fertilized duck embryo egg.

TCC: I’ve heard of balut.

Eden: Yeah, I ate one and it was interesting. It wasn’t that bad. I didn’t mind it at all. That is definitely one of the craziest things I’ve had. But I’m sure I’m going to eat a lot more strange food on the show now.

TCC: What are your fondest memories on Eden Eats?

Eden: Meeting the people that run the businesses and hearing their stories. They are so enthusiastic when they explain to you about their culture and about their cuisines. I find that it’s been a very interesting experience. I’m using food as a way to communicate with these people that I never would have known otherwise.

TCC: Are you currently shooting the first season of Eden Eats?

Eden: On March 13th we’ll be shooting the first episode in Hawaii. But we have other developing episodes that we are working on right now.

Check out the new season of Eden Eats premiering in July. For more information about Eden and her show, please go to the Cooking Channel's website: Source

Eden has also included her most favorite and simple recipe:

Glazed chicken drumsticks and wings with dried fruit

Ingredients:

4 Chicken drum sticks
4 chicken wings
1 large red onion, quartered
1/2 cup dried prunes
1/2 cup dried apricots

Marinade Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil
1-tablespoon sesame oil
1-tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3-cup soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon all spice
Salt and pepper

Place the chicken, onion, and dried fruit in a large bowl. Pour the marinade over everything, cover and let marinate for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the marinated chicken for 1 hour and 20 minutes then broil for a couple minutes so it becomes golden on the top. Serve right away with rice, couscous or on its own.

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