Thursday, March 13
Tyler's current show on Food Network, Tyler's Ultimate, features decadent, simple recipes of favorite foods. I particularly liked the beef taco episode where he fried his own tortillas.
"We just signed a new three year deal. We shot 13 new episodes last week… back in, uh, yesterday," Tyler said with a laugh. He and his wife Tolan were getting ready to return home to Northern California after the interview-- Tyler's first trip home in a month.
"I’m doing 26 more in the fall. I absolutely love it. My director of culinary and I just sit there and have these dream sessions… like this culinary volley back and forth. We stack recipes up and test them and once we get to the set we’re so excited about putting it all together."
"The show is very sensory. We try to create a very three-dimensional experience out of something two-dimensional. We try to give you brilliant recipes that you can make tomorrow night. Simple and clean. You get a really great ingredient, do a few steps, and get a masterpiece out of it."
Food Network Addict: One of my favorite things about the show is the lighting. (I brought up the How to Boil Water lighting, which Tyler likened to a "gymnasium.")
Tyler: We have one of the best Hollywood lighting directors in the business come out for it. The studio itself is a brick-by-brick mockup of my kitchen in my old apartment in New York City.
When I was still living in New York it was weird because I’d get up, have a cup of coffee, go to work, and walk back into my kitchen. We brought our dog once and had to watch him because he tried to go outside and pee in my fake backyard.
FNA: You competed with Robert Irvine on the Iron Chef All Star Battle this past winter. Any thoughts on the recent controversy?
Tyler: It’s a shame. I didn’t know the guy, but I had heard of him and always thought he was the former executive chef to the Queen of England. I don’t even know if that’s true. If his show is pulled, I think it’d be a shame because he is a good cook, but at the same time if you’re selling yourself as “this is who I am and this is what I’ve done” and then history is not exactly what you claim it to be... people aren't ever going to believe you.
Unfortunately these things get played out in the court of public opinion before the facts come out. I wish the guy well.
Over the weekend, Tyler had "won" the Rocco Award for worst career move, given out by Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman. During the poorly attended ceremony, they chastised Tyler for not showing up and accepting his award.
I didn't ask Tyler about Anthony Bourdain, but he didn't mind giving me his opinion on him.
Tyler: I think that salacious, chef attack thing that Gordon Ramsay and Tony Bourdain do all the time is a shtick. I think people are tired of hearing it. With Tony, it's like... those who can't teach, criticize [those who can]. I don’t know what he does honestly. When it’s all about ripping up another chef, you should rise above it.
With his show, restaurant, kitchen store, and baby on the way, Tyler Florence still seems content amidst the busy life he's acquired.
"It’s my 12th year on television, and I’m still happy to do it. I never want to spike… never want to be the biggest thing in the world, because I think that only lasts five minutes and you’re right back down again. It happens to so many people."
I couldn't help but think of Rachael Ray, Tyler's Food Network colleague, who basically is the biggest thing in the world when it comes to TV chefs. Last year at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, Rachael did a cooking demo on Sunday morning, got on a plane to L.A., attended the Oscars to film segments for her daytime talkshow, and then returned to New York.
While fast-paced and exciting, Tyler's Oscar experience sounded pretty enjoyable too:
"Oh yeah...we were definitely there for the Oscars… we were just laying in bed in Miami watching them, eating room service."
Thanks so much to Tyler and Tolan for speaking with me!