Amanda Neal

Photo by: Armando Rafael

Armando Rafael

Recipe Tester

What do you do on a daily basis?
I am responsible for testing recipes that our recipe developers and Food Network talent create for Food Network Magazine.

Who is your culinary icon?
Dorothy Cann Hamilton. She was such an influential woman in the culinary industry and her innovative vision for culinary education paved the way for many students, like myself, to dive head first into professional cooking.

Who is your favorite food TV personality, past or present?
Emeril Lagasse is my favorite TV personality and chef because I completely fell in love with cooking by watching him as a child. Bam!

What's your favorite cookbook?
All of Yotam Ottolenghi’s books, including Nopi and Plenty. The recipes use classic techniques but produce very innovative flavors and textures. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the photos are stunning.

What dish or ingredient will we never catch you eating?
Raw oysters. I love clams, mussels and shellfish as a whole. It’s just a texture thing for me when it comes to raw oysters.

What's your favorite condiment?
Spicy brown mustard — what’s not to love?

What's the first dish you learned to make?
The first dish I learned to make was chocolate chip cookies. My mom loves to bake, and I have many fond memories of baking with her as a kid.

Sweet tooth, salty tooth or both?
I’m definitely a lover of salt, acidity and spice; savory all the way!

What kitchen tool can't you live without?
A rubber spatula is my go-to kitchen tool.

What music do you like to listen to in the kitchen?
When I’m cooking, I love to listen to upbeat music that I can sing along to, no matter the genre.

What's your favorite food scene from a movie?
My favorite food scene is from the movie Ratatouille, when Remy makes ratatouille for the first time. I love how even a silly cartoon can show the emotional connection humans (an animals) have to food.

What's your favorite alcoholic beverage?
Vodka and cranberry with a twist of lime

If you weren't in food, what career would you have liked to have tried?
I’m an animal lover, so any career where I could help animals would be awesome.

What's your favorite "food city" to visit?
New York! You can get every type of cuisine at any hour of the day. NYC is the ultimate foodie town.

Next Up

Amanda Freitag Bio

Amanda Freitag is a judge on Chopped, has battled Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America, and she competed for the title of America's Next Iron Chef. When she was growing up in New Jersey, Amanda's passion for food was fostered by everyone from her grandparents to her high school home economics teacher. They encouraged her to pursue a cooking career and to enroll at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. After she graduated from culinary school, Amanda's first position in a New York City kitchen was as rotissier and garde manger at Vong under the guidance of Jean-Georges Vongerichten. It was there that she was introduced to marrying French technique with Southeast Asian ingredients and flavors. In 1994, Amanda began working with Chef Diane Forley at Verbena, where she rose quickly through the ranks to become the restaurant's chef de cuisine. Forley taught Amanda the importance of using local, organic ingredients and introduced her to the Union Square Greenmarket. During her time at Verbena, Amanda realized how much she had yet to learn about the culinary world, and in 1999 she traveled extensively through France and Italy to explore the bountiful markets and progressive restaurant scenes. While in Paris, she spent two weeks working under Chef Alain Passard at his venerable Arpège restaurant. While her time there was short, the lessons she learned were life-changing. At Arpège, Passard insisted on the freshest ingredients, so there was nothing left in the walk-in refrigerators at the end of service besides butter. This eye-opening experience helped Amanda to further develop her deep appreciation of superlative ingredients and the flavors of the Mediterranean region. Upon returning to New York, Amanda worked at some of the city's most-popular restaurants, including Cesca, where she cooked alongside Tom Valenti as his chef de cuisine and earned two stars from The New York Times. Following Cesca, Amanda accepted the position of executive chef at Gusto in the West Village, where her food was met with critical acclaim. In January 2008, Amanda took over as the executive chef at The Harrison in Tribeca. Over the three years that she helmed the kitchen, The Harrison received numerous accolades from local and national media, including a two-star review from The New York Times. Amanda's first cookbook, The Chef Next Door: A Pro Chef's Recipes for Fun, Fearless Home Cooking, was released in September 2015. When she is not in the kitchen, Amanda enjoys traveling the world and collecting restaurant menus to add to her ever-growing collection.

11 Things You Didn't Know About Amanda Freitag

Get to know chef and Chopped judge Amanda Freitag, who will be appearing on the new season of Chopped All-Stars.

Amanda Freitag Changed the Way I Make Chicken Cutlets

Her dredging station trick means WAY less mess.

Bringing Back a Classic: Amanda Freitag Chats About American Diner Revival

Amanda Freitag chats about her experience revamping restaurant menus on Food Network's new show American Diner Revival.

Expect the All-American Experience at Amanda Freitag's Empire Diner in New York City

Amanda Freitag, host of American Diner Revival, chats about her own diner, Empire Diner, in New York City, and how she brought it back to life with a new design and modern menu.

American Diner Revival's Amanda Freitag and Ty Pennington Answer Fans' Questions in a Facebook Chat

Ty Pennington and Amanda Freitag chat with Facebook fans about their new show American Diner Revival

Saving One Diner at a Time: Ty Pennington and Amanda Freitag Revive Old Diners in a New Series

Ty Pennington and Amanda Freitag join forces to revive American diners that have seen better days on the new Food Network series American Diner Revival.

Latest Stories