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A Soul Journey Out of the Kitchen with Madison Cowan

by  Sheree Williams on February 29, 2012
A Soul Journey Out of the Kitchen with Madison Cowan

Since becoming the Food Network’s first “Chopped” Grand Champion in 2010, fans from around the world just can’t seem to get enough of chef Madison Cowan.  When Cuisine Noir featured him in its November 2010 online issue, it was very clear that readers wanted to learn more about the man behind the food and his journey to happiness and professional fulfillment.

Now we get to fast forward again to 2012, more specifically Tuesday, April 3 as Cowan and his adventure-seeking chef colleagues, Michael Psilakis and Kayne Raymond explore remote locations around the world in a new BBC America reality cooking competition series called “No Kitchen Required.”  Together for 10 weeks, Cowan, Psilakis and Raymond will travel, connect and break bread with remote communities and participate in a competition that requires each chef to prepare a meal using indigenous ingredients in the same manner as the locals.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) may feel like home to Cowan who is a South London native. Perry Simon, BBC’s general manager, describes the series as “a unique hybrid food/travel/adventure show that gives our audience fascinating insights into diverse cultures.”

Each week viewers should turn to the channel to see the chefs expand their culinary palates in Belize, Dominica, New Zealand, Fiji, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Phuket, Thailand, as well as Hawaii, New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida.  For Cowan, the show is about more than just cooking, it is about connecting sincerely with the people and putting the focus on them.

While all locations offered a new adventure and its own cultural insights, it was the people of Dominica, Fiji, Phuket and Hawaii who seem to leave an everlasting impression on Cowan.  The men in Fiji, in particular, stood out the most.  “I connected with these men on a human level and the hunting and fishing took a back seat. These are older men, they were very secure, prominent men, they are very spiritual men and I sometimes liken myself to them.  We just connected on a human level and that is very hard to do with men.”

A little bonding went a long way as cooking from scratch was the name of the game for the 5 days they spent in each location. As the chefs entered unknown territory, they were required to make meals like the locals which meant no fancy stoves, induction burners, the latest casserole dish from Le Creuset, or collection of seasonings and spices.  They had to forage for what they needed and rough it out to the end.  But that was all a part of why each signed up; it was about the adventure and getting out of one’s comfort zone.

Did they like everything? No, but as Cowan puts it, “I just tried to do the very best I could in the time we had.” He continues to say, “We have an opportunity. We have a vehicle and you can’t go into someone else’s yard saying ‘well I don’t like this, I don’t like that,’ that is very disrespectful.”  This is very true and if you are a fan of Andrew Zimmern, than you know that he often says that “one man’s weird is another man’s wonderful.”   Cowan says they knew what they signed up for and it was important that they honored their commitment.

As for the rest of his journey, fans of Cowan are still anticipating the release of his book “Soul Voyage,” which will be a collection of stories and recipes that are cooked with “love, passion and soul.”  Given his busy schedule, he is shooting for a December 2012 release and once again we’ll be on the watch. You can too by visiting his website, www.madisoncowan.com and following him on Twitter at @Madison_Ave.

What’s next for Cowan?   Tune into the Food Network for “Iron Chef “ on April 15 to see Cowan back in the kitchen for what will be a great culinary showdown.

We plan to share the experiences of “No Kitchen Required” on our blog, The Culinary Scoop, as we invite viewers to join us each week to discuss the episodes.  Be sure to join the discussion starting April 4 at www.theculinaryscoop.com.

Until then, be sure to check out the website for the BBC America at www.bbcamerica.com to learn what channel to turn to on April 3.  If you are like us and have AT & T U-verse, then we’ll help you out, it is channel 188.

Photo credit: Tim Calver and Gilles Mingasson for BBC America

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