Across the Table with Dom Tesoriero

If you’re like me, Food Network is your guilty pleasure. Your binge-worthy channel that you just can’t get enough of. As a millennial living in the most millennial-centric city of Nashville, you know I don’t have cable! So, I rely on Hulu to keep me up to speed with my fav Food Network shows; top of the list, Food Network Star.
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Dom Tesoriero was a runner up for Food Network Star, Season 11 (which I just finished binging last month) and he won over viewers with his no BS attitude, Italian roots and determined attitude.
Through the power of social media, I posted on my Instagram Story about how I was hardcore rooting for my man Dom to pull through (right before the final contestants were going to show their pilots). A few minutes later, I had a direct message from Dom and we were setting up this interview!
This guy has got so many plates spinning (pun intended) that we did the interview via email and he was honestly one of the best people I’ve ever interviewed for Livewell’s Latest. Courteous, thoughtful in his responses AND had lots of good pics to share!
Read his full story below! Also, because this is the first chef I’m featuring on Livewell’s Latest, you can access two exclusive recipes at the end of his interview. You. Are. Welcome. Friends!!!
1. What age were you when you developed an interest in cooking? When did you realize it was more than a hobby and something you wanted to pursue for your career?
I had an interest in the kitchen and food since I was a little boy. I always had my finger in the pot! But I would say home ec. class in middle school was when I really started saying “I want to be a chef!” I was far more interested in the kitchen than math or science!
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2. How does being a great cook effect events with friends and family? Are you always expected to be in the kitchen?
Actually, my family asks me to cook the least! A career in food can be demanding. Sometimes it’s nice to just eat home cooked meals and not have to be in the kitchen.
3. What made you initially want to try out for Food Network Star Season 11? What was the highest point of the competition for you and what was the lowest?
As a small business owner the opportunity to be on FNS was a great chance to promote my business. I was honestly terrified about being on camera, it took convincing from friends and family to get me to do it. With that said, the lowest point for me was walking through the door on day 1. The highest point for me was making it all the way to the finale. Win, lose, or draw.. I was on cloud 9 knowing I made it that far.
4. How was your relationship off camera with the other contestants and the judges?
Initially, I think everyone went in there with a kill or be killed mindset, after all it is a competition. But once everybody got settled in we became very close. Maybe more so than most competitors in the same environment.
It was a special group, with special connections. People I consider very close to me to this day.

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5. Your pilot was SO good. How much say did you have in creating that/ the restaurant you went to for it?
Actually, I had no say at all really. From a competitive standpoint, we all had a level playing field; go in there and do your best on the fly. It’s a testament to how much I was able to grow on camera. But when you have the Bobby Flay’s, and Giada De Laurentiis’ of the world showing you the ropes… you will certainly grow that fast.
6. How much has your experience in recent years effected the success of your business with Mac Truck? What’s the coolest thing you’ve done recently for your food truck?
It didn’t just change my business… it changed the trajectory of my whole life. What I am aspiring to do, what direction I want to go, and ultimately what is possible. Sky’s the limit. As long as I keep working hard and stay focused, anything is possible. I’m eternally grateful to Food Network, Triage, the Judges/mentors, the other finalists, and the fans of the show. It was one hell of a ride.
7. What’s the most popular dish on your food truck? What’s your go-to dish that you know will knock everyone’s socks off if you have an hour and a stocked pantry?
On the Truck, people love the Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese. People love both components on their own, so you put them together… dynamite!image3
 
8. People always wonder how chefs can be cooking all the time, but not be 10K pounds ha! I would think that being a great cook makes you much more particular about what you eat, right? What is your GO TO restaurant in NYC? Best restaurant you’ve EVER eaten at? Favorite cheat meal if you have to do go to a chain?
Particular about what I eat? Not so much. I’ll try anything at least once! But as a professional I have an eye for quality. Favorite meal was a birthday dinner prepared by Jonathan Benno. It was a Sunday sauce… but not like Grandmas’. It was unbelievable.
 
Chain? I’m partial to a double double animal style from In n Out.. when I’m lucky enough to be out West.
9. What is the main inspiration behind your cooking? How do you typically come up with new recipes? Trial & error or are you usually inspired by something you see or hear about?
I’m inspired by food and coming up with recipes when I go out to eat, or read a good cookbook. Like a kid at Christmas, I run to source ingredients and give it a go. Sometimes it takes a few tries, but thats the fun part! I genuinely enjoy being in the kitchen. Just being around food in general makes me incredibly happy. It’s the love of my life.

RECIPES

IF YOU ATTEMPT THESE RECIPES BECAUSE YOU’RE FEELING LIKE A BOSS AND READY TO TAKE ON THE WORLD, MAKE SURE YOU SHARE ON SOCIALS AND TAG @CHEFDOMTES & @SLIVEWELL

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BUFFALO CHICKEN MAC & CHEESE

Cheese sauce:

1 stick butter

1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
4 cups cheddar cheese or any combination of desired cheeses
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons white pepper
melt butter in a 4 qt.sauce pot. gradually add and whisk is flour. heat and whisk until thickened and blonde in color.
add cold milk to roux, whisking until combined over medium heat. when bechamel begins to thicken turn off the heat.
add the cheese, using an immersion blender; blend till smooth. let the carry over heat from the sauce melt the cheese. no flame required.
set aside to use immediately, or cool in refrigeration for later use.

Mac and Cheese:

1lb of elbow macaroni
Cheese sauce.
boil elbow macaroni in a pot of salted water until al dente. about 7 minutes.
if serving immediately drain the pasta and combine with cheese sauce. equal parts by volume. set up in a cast iron pan or casserole dish. top with additional shredded cheeses, and bake at 375 for 15 min. or until bubbly and golden brown on top. let rest for 10 min. serve.
If making ahead:
Boil your macaroni until al dente, about 7 minutes. strain, toss with 2 Tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil, and spread out on a half size sheet pan. put in the fridge to cool.
in a large bowl, combine equal parts cold pasta, cold cheese sauce. set up in a cast iron pan or casserole dish. top with additional shredded cheeses and refrigerate until ready to serve.
bake at 375 for 30 min, or until bubbly and golden.

Mac and Cheese Bites;

Boil your macaroni until al dente, about 7 minutes. strain, toss with 2 Tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil, and spread out on a half size sheet pan. put in the fridge to cool.
in a large bowl, combine equal parts cold pasta, cold cheese sauce,and shredded cheddar.
in a  half sized sheet pan with parchment paper and pan release, evenly spread the mac and cheese mixture. if desired weigh down with another half sized sheet pan on top (for more uniform bites) and freeze over night.
When frozen:
turn out frozen sheet of mac and cheese on a cutting board. cut desired shapes with a sharp knife or cookie cutter (not too big or they will take too long to heat through when cooking). Put frozen cut bites back in the freezer while you set up your breading station.
to bread:
4 cups flour
12 eggs whisked in a bowl
6 cups of dried potato flakes
6 cups salted potato chips
in a food processor pulse potato chips until coarsely chopped, but uniform in size.
combine with potato flakes. in a large bowl.
set up you flour, egg, and crumb mixture in that order in large bowls.
in small batches, about 5 pieces at a time. flour your mac and cheese wedges, shake off excess flour. dip in egg, then coat in potato mixture evenly.
return the finished breaded mac and cheese wedges to the freezer until ready to fry.
fry at 350 until golden brown and hot throughout.
serve with ranch, spicy mayo, or dipping sauce of your choosing.

Buffalo Chicken;

1lb of white meat chicken
4 cups franks red hot
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 T worchestershire sauce
1 T soy sauce
boil the chicken in a pot of salted boiling water, about 40 minutes. breaking up with a whisk until desired shredded consistency.
in a separate pot combine your sauce ingredients, over medium heat whisk until combined. add your shredded chicken and simmer for an additional 15 min. use to top your mac and cheese. garnish with crumbled blue cheese if desired.

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AGNOLOTTI BOLOGNESE 

Pasta dough:

500 grams 00 flour

500 grams fine semolina flour

4 whole eggs

20 egg yolks

1 tablespoon whole milk

1 tablespoon olive oil

picked parsley plushes no stem

Filling:

300 grams ricotta cheese

300 grams mascarpone cheese

50 grams pecorino cheese

1 egg

Bolognese:

250 grams sweet italian sausage casing removed

250 grams hot italian sausage casing removed

250 grams ground veal

500 grams ground beef

50 grams dry porcini mushroom

2 teaspoon red chili flake

1 liter of red wine

1 liter dark veal stock

4 cloves garlic

1 onion

2 cans crushed san marzano tomatoes

4oz heavy cream

 

Pasta Procedure:

  • combine all filling ingredients put in pastry bag, set aside in refrigerator.
  • in kitchen aide mixing bowl combine semolina and 00 flour. with whisk attachment mix well
  • combine all but 2 whole eggs, the yolks milk and oil in bowl mix well
  • in kitchen aide bowl, create a “well” in the center of flour, add egg mixture to center of well.
  • with dough hook attachment, work the dough until well incorporated.
  • if mixture looks dry, add remaining 2 eggs
  • put dough on well floured surface and continue kneading by hand.
  • when dough is smooth and firm, wrap in plastic and let rest, about 20 minutes.
  • cut dough into smaller pieces, pass through pasta sheeter until sheets are at desired degree of thickness.
  • with a spray bottle of oil and water, spray pasta sheets lightly, place parsley plushes nicely on sheets.
  • top with another sheet of pasta, lightly press with hands.
  • run laminate sheet through pasta sheeter to create the beautiful herbed pasta sheets you see in the lobsterraviolo recipe.
  • pipe filling in small dabs along the sheet of pasta, fold pasta over filling and “pinch” the dough sealing filling in its own pocket.
  • with a rotella, cut the agnolotti pockets away from the sheet, the dough will fold over on itself creating the iconic shape associated to this classic italian dish

 

Bolognese:

  • soak porcini mushrooms in warm water
  • put large deep sauce pot over medium heat
  • mince garlic, onion, and now hydrated mushroom
  • add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of pan, add onion/garlic
  • lower heat and bring veg to light golden color
  • raise heat and add meats, chili flakes, and mushroom, breaking up with a whisk, browning for maximum flavor
  • deglaze with red wine over high heat
  • add stock, and liquid from porcinimushroom
  • cook over high heat and reduce by half
  • add tomatoes, and bring to a boil, reduce to simmer
  • cook over low heat, for an hour… or if you’re in a rush like in a competition, rock over high heat for 30 minutes.
  • add cream, and boil for additional 5 minutes.
  • set sauce aside

 

To Finish:

  • in a large pot of boiling salted water drop agno, cook for 3 minutes, or until floating.
  • in a sauce pan over medium heat add bolognese sauce, spoon cooked agno into pan, add a little pasta water and toss in pan to coat.
  • spoon into shallow bowl finish with quality extra virgin olive oil and freshly grated parmiggiano cheese
  • serve
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