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Hotel Buffet 101: Everything You Need to Know

Hotel Buffet 101

The buffet is a time-honored tradition. Though known historically for its pomp and circumstance at lavish dinner parties in sixteenth-century France, today they’re more often associated with long lines and spotty service. Though every buffet offers something different — from cheap, gluttonous fare to extravagant fine dining — they can all run into the same problems. At Oyster, we’ve seen some of the best of the best (and the best of the worst) when it comes to the all-you-can-eat fest at hotels. Having learned quite a bit about when to steer clear and when to chow down, we thought we’d offer you some pointers — and let you in on some of our favorite buffets around the globe. Next time you hit the food line, make sure to ask yourself these five questions — and if all’s good, hunker down with your first (of many) dinner plates.

Rule #1: Are your servers in sight?

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25 Amazing Things to Make With Strawberries

Zoe Francois' Beautiful No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

Shake off the winter blues and welcome in the vibrant, fresh flavors of spring! Strawberry season has commenced early this year, so celebrate with pies, smoothies and so much more. Here are 25 ideas to start enjoying everyone’s favorite berry. In no particular order…

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Neater Kernel Cutting

Cutting Corn Off the Cob

One of my favorite ingredients, Sweet Jersey corn, is starting to hit its peak, and I am trying to enjoy as much as I can, while also developing recipes for next summer. As we were tossing around ideas in the kitchen, one of our recipe developers said she refuses to cut kernels from the cob because it made such a big mess. “Half of the corn always ends up on the floor!,” she said.

I then realized that a lot of people don’t know of a simple trick I learned from an old chef years ago.

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Why I Like Using a Cleaver (More Than a Knife)

Cooking with a Cleaver

I never saw myself as a cleaver-user until Martin Yan gave me one. It was a thank-you gift for helping with a food demo. I was perfectly content with my collection of western-style knives up until then. But after several weeks, I decided to give Martin’s cleaver a chance. My life in the kitchen has not been the same since.

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Gumbo Secrets From the “Queen of Creole Cuisine”

Ben Sargent of Hook, Line & Dinner

“I went to Dooky Chase
To get me something to eat
The waitress looked at me and said

Ray, you sure look beat,

Now it’s early in the morning
And I ain’t got nothing but the blues”

—Ray Charles, “Early in the Morning Blues”

For anyone traveling to New Orleans on a food pilgrimage, Dooky Chase’s Restaurant is a must-stop. Thanks for the tip, Ray!

Leah Chase, co-owner and star chef at Dooky Chase, was just about the coolest person I have ever met.  I don’t just mean that in the sense of nice or friendly; cool is a much more suitable word.  Even better, she had moves in the kitchen and makes a mean shrimp gumbo.

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How to Host a Crawfish Boil

Crawfish Boil

It seems every part of the country has its own unique type of seafood extravaganza, whether it’s a Low Country boil in Charleston, a clambake in Maine, or a crawfish boil down in New Orleans.  I’ve been to quite a few in my day, but this year it was high time I hosted my own.

Crawfish season, which usually runs from late April through June and sometimes into July, just so happened to coincide with my boyfriend’s birthday. As if I needed another excuse to celebrate!

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Tips for Great BBQ at Home

BBQ Ribs Ribs from Fatty ‘Cue in New York City

Last night, the Unique Eats crew ate their way through some of the best BBQ in the country. From the very best Texas-style brisket in Austin to whole hog sandwiches in North Carolina, the show hit all the highlights. One place that stood out for culinary inventiveness was Fatty ‘Cue in New York City. Here, chef Zac Pelaccio has found a way to introduce Asian flavors and techniques into BBQ. One of their signature dishes is the ‘Cue Coriander Bacon: bacon that’s been cured with coriander seed and a variety of other spices. It’s smoked and then served with an egg curry custard for a BBQ/Asian twist on bacon and eggs.

We reached out to Fatty ‘Cue for some tips on how to create great BBQ at home.

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Celebrate Birthdays with Cake Pops

Cooking Channel Cake Pops Recipe

We were thrilled when Cooking Channel asked us to bake up a batch of cake pops in celebration of their birthday. At our bakery, Stick&Pop, we specialize in the bite-size treats.  We focus on flavor — playing around with different cakes, binders, and toppings to create memorable treats.  We wanted to share our top tips for creating perfect cake pops on your own.

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Burger Season Is Here

Classic Burger Recipe

Simply put, I love burgers. The promise of a grilled burger compels me to accept invitations to the cookouts of friends who live in distant, inconvenient locations. I check out the burgers on menus wherever I go.  My devotion springs mostly from an attraction to their basic deliciousness, but I also appreciate how much a burger says about the person who made it. They’re adaptable and agreeable, inviting anyone who wants to engage with them to dress them up. Burger season is a celebration of individual taste.

So, when the season approached, I invited food people Ian Knauer (recipe developer) and Sarah Copeland (photographer) to the kitchen. We set out to make ten great burgers. We were not searching for perfection, but instead were seeking the characteristics that make a burger something to love. We wanted to press the boundaries of what a good burger could be. In the process, we stumbled on a few tenets of burger deliciousness over and over. These helped us better understand the obsession in order to tailor it, expand it, refine it, or okay, sometimes to perfect it.

Here is what we kept talking about:

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How to Write on a Cake Like a Pro

How to Write Happy Birthday on a Cake

Happy Birthday, Cooking Channel!

For many happy occasions you’ll want to write a special sentiment on a cake. The problem is not what to say, but how to make it both legible and gorgeous. Everyone has had a good chuckle over the cakes on Cake Wrecks, but we want to avoid having our efforts resemble those mishaps. With a few tricks of the trade and a bit of practice, anyone can write on a cake like a pro.

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