Transitions Q&A: Robert Irvine, celebrity chef

As a star of reality TV, Irvine can be seen on such Food Network staples as “Dinner: Impossible,” “Worst Cooks in America” and “Restaurant: Impossible.” Irvine, an Englishman, was on the grounds at last week’s Transitions Championship at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla., preparing his healthful cuisine for the patrons. Irvine, 46, began his culinary career upon enlisting in the Royal Navy at age 15 and serving aboard HMS Royal Yacht Britannia. He has cooked for royalty on both sides of the Atlantic, from Queen Elizabeth II to Donald Trump, both former employers. When home in England, Irvine plays golf at Salisbury & South Wilts Golf Club.

• • •

How does the queen order her meals?

Normally there’s a book where at nighttime she will tell you what she wants to eat the next day. She writes it down, and that book goes then to the kitchen. It’s very upstairs-downstairs.

We don’t have that here?

No, you don’t. It’s history – the difference between America and Europe. Diana was the first change in that monarchy, and now it’s Kate Middleton. I think that is a huge step forward.

What’s your first clue in a restaurant that things aren’t right?

When I go out, I look at decor. I look at the restrooms. If you take care of the restrooms, then they’re going to take care of everything else. And then when you’re greeted, how are you greeted. When the server comes, your opinion’s already created the minute you walk in there.

How did you start playing golf?

My dad was a perfectionist, so when I was 10, I would hit a ball with him. He’s, like, ‘No, no; not like that.’ I started to get into it more and more just because I didn’t want to hear him chastise me. I love the game, but this is a game that you’ve got to play three or four or five times a week if you want to be anywhere near consistent. And even then, it’s not guaranteed. And so I don’t get that much time to play any more but for charity. To walk around the golf course takes 3 1/2 to four hours, and then there’s a couple of beers afterwards. I don’t have that time. When we get to a show, we shoot two days, we leave and you’re already into the next show. You have one down day and it’s just goes crazy.

– Alex Miceli

• • •

There was much more flavor to the 2012 Transitions Championship than Luke Donald’s dramatic playoff victory, his fifth title on the PGA Tour, and return to the No. 1 world ranking. So much more, such as healthful food.

Chef Robert Irvine, host of the Food Network’s “Restaurant: Impossible,” visited Innisbrook Golf Resort to introduce some of his good-eating tips to patrons of the annual Tour event. He also joined Andre Halston, Innisbrook’s executive chef, to offer two recipes full of fresh ingredients to help promote overall eye health and wellness.

Orzo Pasta Salad with Carrot Vinaigrette

Courtesy of Chef Robert Irvine

Yields: 20-24 portions

Ingredients

6 cups cooked orzo pasta

1 cup carrot vinaigrette

(see below)

1/3 cup chopped red onion

1 cup diced bell peppers

1 cup blanched broccoli florets

1 tbsp minced parsley

2 tbsp minced garlic

1/2 cup chopped mint

1/4 cup chopped basil

1 tbsp grapeseed oil

Method

In a large bowl, toss orzo, diced red onion, diced bell peppers, broccoli florets, garlic, parsley with the vinaigrette.

Place salad on large service plate or bowl over shredded romaine, finish with chopped mint and basil; drizzle with grapeseed oil and serve.

• • •

Carrot Vinaigrette

Courtesy of Chef Robert Irvine

Yields: One quart / Shelf life: 5 days

Method

In food processor, blend all ingredients except oil, and puree until smooth. Next pour through chamois, and return to food processor and slowly add oil until smooth. Remove and refrigerate.

Shopping List

6 oz raspberry champagne vinegar

1/2 cup carrot puree

2 egg yolks

1 tsp ginger powder

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 tbsp salt and pepper blend

2 cups 80/20 blended olive oil

(80% vegetable oil, 20% olive oil)

• • •

Pomegranate Açai Vinaigrette

Courtesy of Chef Andre Halston

Ingredients

(yield 1 1/3 quarts)

1/4 cup pomegranate juice

1/4 cup açai juice

1/2 cup rice vinegar marukan sushi

4 packets Truvia natural sweetener

2 tablespoons dijon mustard plain

1/4 teaspoons pepper white table grind

About 12 pieces mandarin segments (no seeds)

1 1/2 cups organic oil olive

Procedure

• In a bowl add both juices, vinegar, truvia, mustard, pepper and

mandarins; whisk rapidly for 1 minute.

• Whisk while slowly streaming the oil into the bowl until fully combined.

• Transfer to a plastic or glass container and refrigerate.

• Whisk for 30 seconds when you are ready to serve.

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