7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know better.
A little over a year ago few people outside of Sin City had ever heard of Vic Moea. The big, bald, inked chef went from being the scary dude to a genuine momma’s boy in just a few weeks. Though he narrowly missed being the newest Food Network Star, that title went to good friend Jeff Mauro, that doesn’t mean Vic’s moment in the spotlight is over.
Vic, along with fellow FNS 7 alums Penny Borsuk Davidi, Chris Nirschel and Justin Balmes will be going head-to-head once again only this time it’s for charity. All four will be competing on the star-studded Chopped All Stars which starts this Sunday in a round that pits four Iron Chefs against each other. The Starsters will be competing in round three where Vic will be representing St. Jude Children’s Ranch.
These days Vic has been splitting his time between Las Vegas and in Hollywood shooting a handful of pilots. All this he does while raising three kids and satisfying the public’s requests for his time. As you can see Vic is a busy man but he was not too busy to answer 7 Questions
1. When did you decide that you could make food your career?
I decided that I could make food my career when I was 19 years old and I found out I was going to have a son and I had to get a job as a dish washer so that’s what I pretty much started out as. As time went on and I got into it more and I started learning my way around it my memory came back of me cooking with the family and growing up into it. I knew there was something special about all of this.
2. Which chefs have influenced you the most?
Back then we really only had, like, Emeril. That’s really the one that stood out the most. The chefs that really influenced me the most really weren’t chefs. It was my mother and grandmother. If you notice my style ain’t a reflection of anybody else’s but my mother and my grandmother. It evolved into the Vic-thing from the Betty and Antoinette-thing.
3. How was your experience on Food Network Star?
You know, I got called for Hell’s Kitchen and Food Network Star at the same time but I had wanted Food Network Star. It took me five years to get on that show, bro, five years. Every time I didn’t make it I thought it was the end of the world. But it wasn’t supposed to happen then because it wouldn’t happen the way it’s happened now.
Dude, being on that show was the scariest thing ever and it was crazy. Crazy, crazy, crazy, bro. You think you’re ready to go. You think you’re great so you go on and it brings you to your knees. It really brings the best out in you because now it’s so comfortable, so cozy and the confidence is there. But you do it, you experience it and you get your head handed to you. You get twelve weeks of schooling and training with the best.
Just a true blessing that whole experience. It changes your whole life. I didn’t realize how many people watch that show. Oh boy. And now I’ve got Chopped All Stars coming up. You have to be a Wannabe TV Chef to do what we do.
4. How did the Food Network celebrities you met on the show stand up to your preconceived notions?
I got to meet my idols. Susie (Fogelson) is a lovely woman. She’s an amazing, amazing woman and such a darling. Dude, Alton is the mad scientist. He’s hilarious, bro, he’s twisted. He’s twisted in a good way. That’s the real deal right there. Alton is phenomenal and I hear Alton is going to be playing a major role in this upcoming season of Food Network Star.
And I got to know Guy. He invited me to his Road Show when he was in Arizona. He called me and said “Come on down.” So I drove down with a buddy. That’s another great guy, another cool dude. Ted Allen – good man! And Scott Conant, I love that guy. He’s such a perfect judge.
Flay. Flay was great. People ask me, “Is Bobby a jerk? He seems like a jerk.” How could he be a jerk? How many people want to know that guy? So he’s got to be a little choosy so I guess you gotta earn his respect. He’s not a jerk, he’s tough, dude. If you can win him over by being yourself that’s when you and Flay are gonna be tight forever. Me and Mr. Flay are very close.
Emeril, you gotta understand, a lot of TV people don’t really cook but that guy, man. I’m going to have to say, not taking anything away from anyone else, but by far one of the most talented cooks I’ve ever met in my life. I’m a chili pro now because of him.
5. Which of your fellow cast members do you still keep up with?
Ah, Jyll, the most underrated person on Food Network Star. She’s awesome, dude. She needs to keep going. I got to know her so well, teaming up with her so much. That by far was my best female friend on the show. Jyll is awesome, dude. Orchid, she’s such a doll, dude. Oh my God I love her. And Whitney is amazing. Whitney Chen is fabulous. I love Whitney Chen.
Howie, by far, one of the most amazing dudes I ever met. He’s become like a brother to me. Me and Howie, we talk all the time. I’ve flown down to Denver and hung out with him. We went to the first Monday Night Football game together. I freakin’ love Howie. He was the first one off the show and he’s going to be one of the biggest stars out there. Isn’t that killer, dude?
Yeah, and Crazy Chris is going balistic right now. He’s on VH1 Celebrity Couples Rehab with Angelina from the Jersey Shore. That’s perfect you know what I mean? I was making jokes like the second week we were in the house. I looked at Chris and said, “So, when this is over who are you going to be dating from the Jersey Shore?” I said that two weeks into filming Food Network Star. I gotta stop wishing for things, man, a little Vic-tradamus going on here. He can be my little brother for life.
And Susie (Jimenez). She’s completely sweet. She’s a little firecracker. I’ve got nothing bad to say about nobody. I liked everyone and everybody was awesome to me. People have said to me, “Vic, you look so distressed every time someone got eliminated” and I’m like, “Dude, I made friends with everybody.” We bonded so well, half the time we forgot it was a competition show.
6. How was competing on FNS different from competing on Chopped: All Stars?
For one the time frame (twelve weeks versus one day). On FNS we were isolated from the whole outside world. Everything was stripped of us, couldn’t talk to our family often. I’d say we were in jail but in jail you get to use the phone. But Food Network Star prepared us to go on Chopped and have a blast. When you see us on Chopped no one is trippin’ we’re just like, “Yeah!” And (Chopped) is the crazy show that scares the crap out of everyone.
Food Network Star is a combination of personality and skills. Chopped is about skills. Chopped is not a personality show. Did we bring any personalities to the show? Hmm, I don’t know. [laughs] But Justin Balmes may have gotten ixnay’d from Food Network Star early but now this is about cooking ability and that guy is Iron Chef status. And I’m like, “Oh my God I’m facing Justin B? Holy crap!”
When I found out the line-up I was like alright, Chris. Anything is possible because Chris has been a chef now in Little Italy for quite a few months and Penny didn’t go home because she didn’t cook good. She didn’t have one bad meal. And you have Justin Balmes who’s pretty much like an encyclopedia and very talented. He could be trapped on an island with wild life and he’s going to survive cuz he knows how to utilize the whole animal. Let’s show everybody out there who knows how to cook.
It was awesome hanging out with Penny and Justin and Chris again. Cuz Penny she’s good people, man. She really is a good person. She just played the heel. That’s OK because at the end of the day when she goes home with her family she’s a loving mother, she’s a caring friend.
7. What’s next for Vic Moea?
I am making it happen. Some much stuff. More than you even know is going to be jumping off in the next year. I go non-stop, man. I used Food Network Star as a lesson. I used it as the tune-up for where I really want to be. I got it all out of my system and it was like ba-bing. Now, let’s do this. I teamed up with US Foods; I’m now their corporate executive chef for Las Vegas. They’re totally cool with me going down to Los Angeles to shoot the pilots and the presentations for the three or four show ideas that have been brewed up for me.
For a couple of months after the show (Food Network Star) we weren’t allowed to talk to anybody. But almost every production company wanted to meet me. So I was talking to Mark Burnett Productions to Big Dog Productions to 123 Productions, everybody. And a lot of people were scripting up shows about me just in case my future didn’t continue with Food Network as well as the Momma’s Boy show being scripted. There’s other people – Travel, A&E, Spike TV, Bravo. Just wait. It’s amazing, dude, what’s going to be taking place. But no more competing, now it’s host time.
As a kid I literally wanted to be a WWE wrestler. At heart I am a WWE wrestler. I don’t want to be a full time wrestler; I just want to be in Wrestlemania one day. And actually, Stu, it’s being worked on. You never know. I could be wrestling Guy Fieri on Wrestlemania.
7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know better.
Chef Phillip Lee is the owner of Wolf Cuisine where he and his staff are bringing the “Chefs Tasting Menu” home with LA’s first ever high end multi-course delivery service. The 10 course menu is priced at $200 per person which includes tax, service, and delivery.
Prior to opening Wolf Cuisine with his associate Sylvain Allard, Phillip worked at many top restaurants in LA as well as in Chicago. He served as sous chef at both Hatfield’s Restaurant where he served under chef/owner Quinn Hatfield and with Top Chef alum Stefan Richter at LA Farm, he also spent time at both L20 and Grant Achatz’s groundbreaking eatery Alinea. Chef Lee was also the executive sous chef at Park Grill at Millennium Park in Chicago.
So as you can see Phillip Lee is a highly successful chef by anyone’s standards. But did you know that he is also a screenwriter and director? It’s true and his current project, COOK: The Movie, combines his writing skills and his years in the restaurant industry to give the first ever accurate portrayal of a chef’s life for the big screen. Here’s the Trailer:
Lee’s film is set and a distribution deal for a wide theatrical release is secured. To keep the suits from putting that usual Hollywood patina over his story, Lee has gone the indie route to protect his film’s integrity. To hammer down the final funding nessecary to bring COOK to the masses he has partnered with Kickstarter to nail down the final budget.
Phillip Lee is a busy man but not too busy to answer 7 Questions:
1. How old were you when you first started to cook?
I began cooking for fun when i was 9 years old with my father in our home. When I was 19, I was playing drums for a few different touring bands and needed a part time job in between tours, so I got a job washing dishes for a local catering company.
2. When did you decide that you could make food your career?
About 6 months after getting a job as a dishwasher I was moved up to prep, and from prep I got a 2nd job at a local restaurant working on the line. After two years of juggling music and cooking I quit playing music and enrolled in Culinary school.
3. Which chefs have influenced you the most?
Michael Cimarusti, Grant Achatz, Quinn Hatfield
4. Do you feel that Hollywood has done a good job of accurately portraying chefs on the screen?
In short, no. In long, I feel Hollywood has done a fantastic job of glorifying the prestige of a chef, but has yet to accurately portray the livelihood or the strength and perseverance it takes to become one.
5. What inspired you to write COOK?
Every time a new movie comes out about a “chef” or about “food” I’m always the first one to the box office, and I usually leave the theater unsatisfied or feeling cheated. So one day I thought to myself, hey, if Hollywood is not going to do it right, why not just take it upon myself?
6. How much of the script is drawn from your real life experiences?
Almost all of it. By no means is this script autobiographical, but everything in the script has either happened to me, in front of me, to a close friend or in my imagination.
7. If people want to learn more about COOK or help you reach your funding goals where should they go?
Please visit www.cookthemovie.com we are proud to keep this film independent and are building a foundation by offering the general public fun incentives for their contributions.
COOK stars Adam Christy (Swing Man, Law & Order: LA), Arielle Kebbel (90120, Life Unexpected), Lindsey Mckeon (One Tree Hill, Supernatural), Brian Goodman (Rizzoli & Isles, Lost, Catch Me If You Can) and Phil Abrams (Greys Anatomy, Lost).
7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know better.
The Cooking Channel (aka Food Network 2) debuted last year to a good deal of fanfare from parent company Scripps Networks. From what I have seen so far, the new kid on the block is a force to be reckoned with. Some familiar FN stars have found a place to truly shine. Take for instance Aida Mollenkamp who’s stand-and-stir Ask Aida was at times awkward while her new food/travel show FoodCrafters is polished and sleek.
Several Food Network: Canada stars have also found an American home on the Cooking Channel as well. Last year I was lucky enough to speak with David Rocco host of David Rocco’s Dolce Vita. I also got a little phone time with the gorgeous gastro-Guidette herself Nadia G. of Bitchin’ Kitchen. Another FN: Canada arrival is Roger Mooking, host of Everyday Exotic (my vote for the best stand-and-stir on TV today) and co-host of the new Food Network hit Heat Seekers.
Heat Seekers is part food/travel series and part cop-buddy film. Or as Food Network puts it, “For chefs Aarón Sanchez and Roger Mooking, Heat Seekers is a tongue-testing odyssey to discover the most deliciously spicy food across the country — and to figure out why these dishes are so fun to eat.” I love this show.
Mooking is an anomaly within the cosmos of TV chefs; he’s an accomplished musician. I don’t mean accomplished in the way that I gigged away the 90’s in Nashville’s underground rock scene. I don’t even mean an accomplished musician as in Emril Legasse who is good enough on a trap-set to make a comfortable living. I mean accomplished as in award winning.
Mooking won a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy) for his work with the R&B group Bass is Base and their album Memories of the Soul Shack Survivors. He’s been apart of three Much Music Video Awards to boot. I feel quite confident in saying that Roger Mooking is the only person in history to both jam with James Brown and battle Michael Symon in Kitchen Stadium.
Cooking is a Mooking family tradition going back three generations and as a result Roger is first and foremost a chef. By developing a culinary philosophy built on perfect execution of globally inspired culinary traditions, Chef Mooking has become one of the most respected chefs in the Great White North so now it’s time for America to get to know him. To help, Roger answers 7 Questions:
It is who I am. All of my creativity is framed by my background and family history. As a chef it gave me a very broad jumping off point when it came time to create and develop new dishes. Plus my family are very harsh culinary critics, if it’s good they will say so. If it’s bad they look at you like “Get outta here with that ****.”
2. How does being a celebrity in Canada differ from being a celebrity in the States?
I don’t think about celebrity. I create things that I love everyday and I realize that you’re hot and your not. So it’s about touching people, which is the same all over the world. Celebrity is a by product of touching many people. I am blessed by being able to create things and share them.
3. Little is known in the States about the food scene in Toronto – can you describe what visitors should expect?
Toronto is a particularly culturally diverse city and although there are specific neighborhoods like India, Little Italy and such those areas are not exclusively populated by those people at all. This I have discovered is very unique from having traveled a bit and I’ve come to appreciate this about the city.
There is also a great wine region and farming community in the Toronto area so the access to market fresh produce, meats and wines is also fantastic. And because the demand from the immigrant communities is so great for their indigenous foods we also get a very wide variety of ingredients from all over the world in the most common of grocery stores not to mention specialty grocers. I really feel that Everyday Exotic was born of this community and my cultural background. The restaurant scene is as vibrant as New York but on a smaller scale. People in Toronto are serious about their food.
4. You’re a very busy man, how does a show like Heat Seekers fit into your lifestyle?
I grew up eating hot sauce sandwiches with butter as a kid. It was a favorite sandwich – bread, butter and hot sauce. So it fits into my life very naturally. The scheduling side of it is a challenge but I’m committed to it so we make it work. My team is the best on the planet and they keep me in line and able to focus on what I’ve gotta do.
5. Were you and Aaron friends before shooting began on Heat Seekers?
Certainly in another lifetime. The first time we met I felt he was my brother. We get along very well and have a lot of respect for one another, not to mention a lot of jokes.
6. Both of you strike me as pranksters, are there any practical jokes when you’re on the road?
Not ones that I can share here. Hehehe. But yes we have a lot of fun when we are shooting.
7. You’ve conquered Canada and you are taking the US by storm – what’s next for Roger Mooking?
I’ve only touched on about 10% of what is lying in my brain. There is still a lot of stuff I would like to do and you will have to wait for it as it comes together. We’ll save it for the next interview. Deal???
Now that you know Roger Mooking the chef better, groove out to Roger Mooking the musician. For more on Roger check out his web site HERE.
Have you ever gotten so drunk that you did something extremely ridiculous? Of course you have. Imagine if someone had gotten that crazy stunt on video. Now imagine if it then went viral on the YouTube. Well, that’s what happened to Hannah Hart and the worst part is she’s the one who video taped it and she even uploaded it to the world’s most popular video site, too.
The video in question was meant as a joke. A way of sharing a laugh with an old friend clear on the other side of the country. That was four months and 630,000 downloads ago. Today it is known throughout the Interwebs as Ep. 1: Butter Yo Shit.
So successful was that one drunken evening butchering a grilled cheese sandwich that eight more followed to create a web series called My Drunk Kitchen. The series as a whole has amassed a staggering 4.6 million downloads, again in just four months. There’s just something intoxicating about Hannah’s signature, “Hello!”
So what’s her secret? It’s no secret really, she’s damned funny. She also sports a nerdy sexuality that surely has fan boys throughout the country love-stricken. Well cool your jets, boys, Hannah supports the penis embargo. Or as she puts it “she’s a big ol’ homo.” It hasn’t stopped her from receiving nearly a thousand marriage proposals, and not just from undersexed geeks and Glee fans either but also from normal people.
When she’s not charming the masses in her quirky cooking (for lack of a better word) show or it’s companion series Advice from the Hart, Hannah is a proofreader specializing in Japanese/English texts for an international translation firm. According to her web site her free time is spent, “listening to music and doing Sudoku in cafes. She calls this writing. She enjoys long meandering walks, impromptu dance parties, and artisanal cheeses.”
Sure having a cooking show where the chef gets a little tipsy isn’t new (see Julia Child, Justin Wilson) but one where the host gets three sheets to the wind and the food is iffy? Yeah, that’s new. Hannah Hart is the coolest, hippest thing on “the online” right now and that’s why she’s appearing at VidCon 2011 this week in LA. But she’s neither too cool nor too busy to answer 7 Questions:
1. Have you ever cooked anything on your show that turned out surprisingly well?
Yes! The “America Day Pie Cakes” that I made for the 4th of July episode were edible! Not only that, they were actually tasty. I was shocked.
2. What would you say is the sexiest cheese?
Definitely Swiss. Such a tease.
3. The phrase “overnight sensation” is usually a misnomer but not in your case. How crazy have the past few months been?
The past four months since the first episode launched have been a bit crazy! I was just goofing off and sent my friend a “parody of a YouTube cooking show” and now…this! I’ve been really surprised and really flattered by the positive response.
4. What creates the best cooking drunk – wine, beer or hard liquor?
Champagne! Easily. The most giddy episodes are the ones where I’m bubblin’ on bubbly.
5. Any plans for a spin-off like My Stoned Auto Shop or My Tweeked Chiropractic Clinic?
Ha! All those and more are brilliant ideas. I definitely want to expand the kitchen concept into more comedy. But hopefully people will accept me as just “a girl who likes to make you laugh” instead of “the sloshed chick with the internet thing.” We shall see. Here’s hoping!
6. What can you tell me about My Drunk Iron Kitchen Chef?
It’s going to be FUNDERFUL. If you can get to SF in August, you should. Dates and info to come! The best way to find out about appearances/events is to sign up for the mailing list on the website. I promise no spam! Only monthly e-mails with info.
7. Do you think My Drunk Kitchen could translate well to the big screen a la Julie & Julia?
The real question is: Is America ready to handle such TRUTH? I’d like to think so.
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If you haven’t witnessed Hannah’s magic yet enjoy this playlist of her work: