Thursday, August 25, 2011

8/25 Food Network Chefs Pat & Gina Neely, Travelocity Hotel Deals, Music For Mental Health, Gary Poppins

What's Cookin' Today Hour ONE:

Food Network Celebrity Chefs Pat and Gina Neely Talk To Us About There Efforts To Fight Hunger In America With The "Huddle To Fight Hunger"

To help, Huddle to Fight Hunger, the largest hunger relief effort of its kind, is building upon Kraft Food’s nearly thirty year relationship with Feeding America, to help fight hunger in the United States. In 2010, the family of iconic brands donated more than 20 million meals to Feeding America through the program.

This year, kicking off with football season, the program is on a mission to help donate 25 million meals to Feeding America. Huddle to Fight Hunger combines three things Americans are passionate about – football, food and helping others. So, to reach the end zone, Kraft Foods has huddled with the American Youth Football organization, some of their iconic brands, retailers that sell them alongside football legend Joe Montana and celebrity chefs Pat and Gina Neely to champion the cause.

The campaign will culminate in San Francisco on December 31, 2011, with the second annual Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, broadcast live on ESPN, featuring a team from the Pacific-12 Conference vs. Army. Americans can join the huddle by “liking” Kraft Fight Hunger on Facebook. For each new like, Kraft Foods will donate the monetary equivalent of one meal to a local Feeding America food bank.

As co-owners of Neely’s Bar-B-Que, Patrick (Pat) and Gina Neely ( have turned their family restaurant into one of the most successful barbecue restaurants in the South. Now they share the secrets behind their favorite dishes and their passion for food, family and fun on Food Network’s Down Home with the Neelys.After its February 2008 premiere, Down Home with the Neelys became the highest-rated series debut in the five-year history of Food Network's "In the Kitchen" weekend block and continues to be a top ratings performer. Filmed in their Memphis home surrounded by family and friends, the show airs multiple times throughout the week on Food Network. In May 2009, the Neelys released their first cookbook, Down Home with the Neelys (Knopf, 2009), which quickly earned a place on the New York Times best-seller list. Their second book, The Neelys Celebration Cookbook: Down Home Meals for Every Occasion (Knopf), is due out in November 2011.

The couple will open their first New York City restaurant in May 2011, Neelys BBQ Parlor ( Patrick began working in the restaurant business at the age of 15, learning the art of barbecue from his uncle Jim Neely, who taught Patrick and his brother Tony the methods of slow cooking Southern barbecue using indirect heat. In February 1988, Pat and his three brothers (Gaelin, Tony and Mark) opened their first restaurant in downtown Memphis with just a few tables and chairs, one barbecue pit and $20,000 borrowed from their grandmother. Building on a reputation of hard work, great food and consistently good service, the Neelys now have two locations in Memphis and one in Nashville.

High school sweethearts in the 80s, Pat and Gina reunited at their 10-year high school reunion and were married in 1994. For years the two have learned to balance their roles in the family as well as in business. They reside in Memphis with their two daughters, Spenser and Shelbi. Gina manages the catering division of Neely’s Bar-B-Que, which has expanded to more than 25 percent of the restaurant’s total sales. She also oversees sales of all Neely’s products, including sauces, seasonings, shirts, hats and aprons. Before joining her husband in the family business, Gina served as branch manager at National Bank of Commerce in Memphis and was an events coordinator for The Carter Malone Group, a local public relations firm. Patrick is a board member of the Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Shelby Farms Conservancy Board and the immediate past chairman of board for the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In 2007, Patrick was named Restaurateur of the Year by the Memphis Restaurant Association.Gina is a member of the Memphis Restaurant Association, on the steering committee for The Women’s Empowerment Summit for the Memphis Housing Authority and on the PTSA of Cordova High School. She is also a member of The Dreamers Club for the National Civil Rights Museum and an active member at Cummings Street Missionary Baptist Church where she serves in the Hospitality and Greeters ministries.

Gina and Patrick support Memphis youth by sponsoring 25 children to attend NBA Memphis Grizzlies home games. They are longtime supporters of Melrose High School, Central High School athletics and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Basketball Tournament. The Neelys also hosted a second Food Network show in July 2008, Road Tasted with the Neelys, a cross-country search for specialty stores and family-run businesses that make hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind edibles. They have appeared on Food Network’s Paula’s Home Cooking; Paula’s Party; Road Tasted, hosted by Jamie and Bobby Deen; BBQ with Bobby Flay; and several Food Network holiday specials.

Talking With us Is Travelocity’s Editorial Director Genevieve Shaw Brown About Getting Last-Minute Hotel Deals For Labor Day Weekend

The Travelocity Pricing Barometer has analyzed hotel rates for the holiday weekend over the past four years to help travelers find the best time to book hotel rooms. Historically, the best hotel deals can be found one week before Labor Day weekend, with rates averaging $90 per night.

Brown serves as go-to resource for consumers who want to be in the know and has provided regular commentary on trends, tips and destinations with recent appearances on the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, MSNBC and CNN, as well as major local affiliates throughout the country.

What's Cookin' Today Hour TWO:

Director of Marketing Communications For The International Mental Health Research Organization, Brandon Staglin Is Telling Us All About The 17th Annual Staglin Family Vineyard Music Festival for Mental Health

The 17th Annual Staglin Family Vineyard Music Festival for Mental Health, sponsored by the International Mental Health Research Organization (IMHRO). The 2011 Music Festival features keynote Steven E. Hyman, MD, Provost, Harvard University and Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, followed by a one-of-a-kind concert starring the incomparable Dionne Warwick and a special appearance by Congressman Patrick Kennedy of the One Mind Campaign, and award-winning actress of stage and screen Glenn Close of the Bring Change 2 Mind organization.

Mental illness is the leading cause of adult disability in the United States, costing our country over $350 billion annually and affecting over 50 million Americans. With 100 percent of the expenses underwritten by its sponsors, all proceeds go directly to scientific research and treatment programs, including those at UCSF, Stanford University, UCLA, University of Southern Florida, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the Roskamp Institute studying Alzheimer’s plus Aldea, Inc. of Napa and Sonoma. In addition, IMHRO is a founder of Bring Change 2 Mind, the nation’s leading anti-stigma organization. To date, nearly $114 million has been raised through direct and leveraged funds.

Brandon Staglin is Director of Marketing Communications for both Staglin Family Vineyard and the International Mental Health Research Organization (IMHRO). Having overcome many challenges in his life, including the diagnosis of schizophrenia in 1990, Brandon's strength, intelligence and passion add a tremendous value to both organizations. Graduating from Dartmouth College in 1993 with degrees in Engineering Sciences and Anthropology, he began to pursue his childhood dream in aerospace engineering. Later, he made a career change and began working in website development.

Today, Brandon oversees the web design, content and development for both websites and writes a blog called "Healing the Mind: Stories from a Life with Schizophrenia". Several years ago Brandon married Nancy Abreu and the two live happily in Napa with their dog Cooper.

Gary Poppins Is Talking With Us About Great Tasting Popcorn

"I love popcorn! I always have, ever since I was a kid and my parents would take me to the movies every week. Sometimes I didn't even care what the movie was, as long as I got my
popcorn. I loved the crunch, and the melted butter mixing with the saltiness. So, that's where it began. But, of course, there's more. You see, my dad owned a bakery. So, I was always watching the bakers mixing the ingredients and experimenting with new recipes. I learned about quality and perfection - only the finest ingredients, no exceptions, perfectly blended and prepared. I guess it was only natural that I'd want to cook - to be a chef and create my own special recipes. So, it was off to culinary school to really learn about food. "

Then, I joined the CIA - that's the Culinary Institute of America - where I learned about pushing the limits and being the very best. I wanted to do something different, something unique. I'd stay up late every night developing concepts, with my ever present bowl of popcorn, fiddling with the kinds of corn, and adding cheese or caramel, or nuts or chocolate or... The perfect combination of what I'd learned and what I loved.

The best tasting popcorn that you could imagine. And flavors you hadn't thought of... Like cinnamon, or chocolate with peanut butter, or white cheddar jalapeno. Gourmet popcorn with a taste you just can't get anywhere else. And GARY POPPINS was born. I'm popping my gourmet popcorn right here in my hometown. And, you can count on the fact that I'm using only the finest, freshest, premium ingredients.

Don't forget to "Like" CRN's Facebook Page: "Like" Our What's Cookin' Today Page, too!