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Wednesday, March 12

Food Network Addict Interviews Tyler Florence, Part 1

It’s hard to believe that 2008 marks Tyler Florence’s 12th year on television. The charming celebrity chef has starred in multiple Food Network shows, written several bestselling cookbooks, appeared with Shaquille O’Neill in a TV special focusing on teenage obesity, and even found some time to get married and grow his family.

The now 37 year old star was kind enough to sit down with me recently to talk about his experiences as a celebrity chef and the joys and challenges that come with being one.


I began by praising Tyler’s performance--and it really is a performance--at the 2008 Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Fest. Tyler had one the busiest schedules during the festival, yet each time he took the stage he was engaging, personable, and charismatic—never missing a beat. You can usually judge how well a demo is going by counting the number of people who stand up and leave after five minutes. Folks get their picture and quietly shuffle their way through the chairs back to the wine tent. At Tyler’s, people withstood the glaring sun on the outskirts of the tent just to watch. And they stayed, too.

Even in 90 degree heat and dripping with sweat, Tyler seemingly denied no fan an autograph or picture.



Food Network Addict: How did you get so good at these demos?

Tyler: I started working in restaurants when I was 15, and it was a bit of a difficult transition to downgear and start actually producing entertainment cooking that people could really follow and have a good time with. I remember when I first starting doing demos I’d just put people to sleep. People would get up and walk out. I didn’t know how to do it. But after a while you learn how to really get them involved in the cooking process and really have a good time with it. And you constantly remind them we're here to have a good time. You don’t have to throw in a lot of catchphrases, just give them some great information that they can walk away with.

FNA: Some celebrity chefs probably wouldn’t want to deal with the intense heat and stand up there on stage for hours, yet you seem to really enjoy it.

Tyler: I really enjoy doing what I do for a living. Very different from what the Hollywood community offers—a chance to escape for two hours, but you can never experience that—what we [as celebrity chefs] offer is something you can actually enjoy in real life. So it’s a much more approachable type of entertainment. I don’t take it for granted. If they weren’t watching, I wouldn’t be here.

FNA: You recently moved from New York to California. A big change?

Tyler: Not so much a big change, in all honesty. I was really shocked because we were actually looking for a big change. I’d been in New York for about 13 years and was ready to experience something different.

We looked around Los Angeles for a while, but decided to settle in northern California. As a chef, it’s what I call the American Provence. It’s the wine community, it’s the chef’s community, it’s the farm community. And for me it’s really the only place you can have a phenomenal eating experience at a very simple level. The produce is so wonderful. The weather is so warm. They have a very long extended growing season. It’s almost like a European experience. The tomatoes stay on the vine until you eat them, and you can really taste that.

When I moved out there, everything I tasted was like tasting it for the first time. The peaches are just sensational. The figs are great. The tomatoes are amazing. And a lot of this stuff is just growing wild on the side of the road. It’s a wonderful place to be.

FNA: You have two big projects coming up: a restaurant and a cooking store. Tell me about them.

Tyler: The kitchen store is going to be called Tyler Florence Mill Valley. It’s going to be not so much like what Williams Sonoma does for kitchen stores, but more like what Ralph Lauren does for fashion. So you’re going to walk in to a very stylish place. We plan to open this May.

I’ll probably do cooking demos a couple times a month, and open it up to all my colleagues when they’re in town. So Bobby and Giada and Paula might be coming to my place.

The restaurant is going to be called Bar Florence at the Hotel Vertigo. It’s going to be as California as it comes. We want a destination place. I don’t want to create a homogenous, big city restaurant that could be in Philadelphia or Chicago and you’d not know where you are. I want people who come to San Francisco to taste San Francisco.

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Be sure to come back tomorrow for Part 2 of my interview with Tyler Florence.

He discusses his future on Food Network and his thoughts on Robert Irvine, Anthony Bourdain, and more.

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6 Comments:

At 3/12/2008 4:20 PM , Anonymous Harry Martin said...

He comes across very down-to-earth, and kudos for getting the interview.

 
At 3/12/2008 4:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

great interview! can't wait to read the rest.

 
At 3/12/2008 5:29 PM , Anonymous Alec Smart said...

A couple of things.
First, I like Tyler Florence and enjoy watching him both on his show and other engagments. Seems like real down to earth guy. 12 years on TV uh ?

Man has he ever come along way since the days of being schlepped around suburbia by Gordon Elliot, harrassing people to look in their freezers and pantries in the DoorKnock Dinner days. I guess yeah gotta do what gotta do.

Tyler's Ultimate is informative and entertaining, but one element of the show that irks me and I'm sure many others is his incessant use of the word beautiful. He must use that adjective 40 times per show.

Tyler, we love your enthusiasm and your dedication and appreciation of ingredients, but lighten up with the beautifuls .

Other than that, keep up the good work and I hope to check your new spot out when in the area.

Beautiful.

 
At 3/12/2008 7:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Alec:

What exactly gives you--a fourteen year old with acne who lives in his mother's basement and fantasizes about doing sick things with Sandra Lee and a bottle of Kraft Italian Lite salad dressing-- the right to criticize me about anything? We're not friends. You're not my pal so I can really live without your superficial, predictable compliments and your asinine faux friendly little poke at me.

You don't like the word "beautiful"? Awww, Alec, I'm soooo sorry. I'll change that right away for you, buddy.

Love,
Ty

 
At 3/13/2008 10:11 AM , Anonymous Alec Smart said...

Dear Tyler Imposter:

What gives me the right to criticize you ? Well for one thing, after such a weak and unfunny retort like that, it's quite obvious I am a lot smarter and funnier than you are. I hear the jealousy in your reply. Some people are born much funnier than others and you my friend need some tutelage in how to craft witty blog entries. That was soooo stupid.

Please come back when you have something good and constructive to add to this blog. Funny and original would be good. Keep the wild and whacky assumptions about me to a minimum.

Try and be brave and give us a name.

 
At 3/13/2008 9:49 PM , Blogger Rex said...

He's so effing adorable. And his recipes rock...

 

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