Wednesday, June 3
Why did you decide to apply to be on The Next Food Network Star?
I came to the realization that being a TV chef is what I was meant to do! The Next Food Network Star is a great opportunity to test my skills and see if I have what it takes to be a star.
Who are your chef / TV cooking star idols?
Culinary TV Heroes:
· Alton Brown - He is the master of using food science to make tasty food. I have always believed in the need to understand how food behaves in order to get the most flavor and texture out of it.
· Bobby Flay - He has a kind spirit in Throwdown yet knows his stuff beyond belief. I love the way he uses his knowledge of flavor profiles to adapt to any culinary challenge.
· Emeril Lagasse - He is simply the king.
· Jon George Van Gretchin – intensity of flavor yet without weight
· Charlie Trotter – thinking on his feet, his mind-tasting ability
· Adriano Paganini – accuracy of his palate, his focus on simple, clean flavors
· Arnold Rossman – passion beyond your wildest imagination
What does it take to be a great Food Network star?
You have to be able to cook really well, understand flavors "MIND TASTE" everything, think on your feet, adjust, stay cool under pressure, work hard, work fast, connect with the viewer on a personal level and do it all with a big, natural, relaxed smile. That's all :)
Did you feel prepared for the types of challenges you endured on the show? Anything in particular you struggled with?
I felt as prepared as someone could be for the unbelievable intensity level and time constraints of the challenges. I am a planner. I love to think things through and have a solid plan. I always thought of myself as a quick planner but The Next Food Network Star redefined quick! We literally had less than 30 minutes to introduce ourselves to each other for the first time and plan a multiple-course meal for 75 of the culinary elite to celebrate the Food Network's 16th birthday!
The need to have a clearly defined culinary point of view is brought up again and again by the judges. What's yours and how is it different from what we've seen before?
Cooking without borders: the ability to mind taste ingredients from around the world and utilize those flavors to create a unique but recognizable dish. I can help the viewer cook and taste the vast flavors of the world without them having to learn 190+ different cuisines. This is different from the "fusion" cooking you may have seen before. Fusion can often times highlight the worst of every cuisine by mixing too many things together. I take an interesting ingredient like harissa (a North African condiment) and make a great steak sandwich with it.
You were judged by lots of Food Network stars over the course of the show. Which star(s) were you most excited to meet and why?
Alton Brown and Bobby Flay. They are my idols; they embody what being a food network star is all about.
Apart from winning this competition, what goals do you have for the future?
1. Be a Food Network star for the next 20 years.
2. Do a show as Bobby Flay's sidekick.
3. Write cookbooks, teach, inspire and never stop learning.
4. I plan to visit every country in the world while continuing to pursue learning about every cuisine the world has to offer and find creative ways to deliver those flavors/techniques to the viewers.
5. I will continue to pursue my study of languages (currently speaking Spanish very well, learning French and Italian is next).
6. I am taking the test for my 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do this December 2009.
7. I am beginning the Master of Wine program this summer and plan to pursue that to the end as well.
8. I will always strive to be the best husband and father that I can be.
9. I plan on starting a foundation that will build playgrounds around the world for children that don't have them.
10. I am determined to stay grateful for every day and for everything I have while always reaching for more.
Thanks Jeffrey! I'll be looking for that harissa steak sandwich!