Cooking shows keep zooming onto TV and the latest has a kind of rogue-ish, rock 'n' roll touch. Here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
Let’s say you have a high-achieving father, a leader of men.
Your goals are simpler; you just want to cook. How do you break it to him?
For Graham Elliot, it was easy: He had already dropped out of school, with
visions of being a rock ‘n’ roll guitarist; anything else might be seen as a
“Maybe you should go to jail or juvie (juvenile hall) when
you’re 16,” Elliot joked. Then anything would be viewed as a triumph.
He talked about that while reflecting on his latest TV
venture. Already a judge on “MasterChef” and the current “MasterChef Junior,”
he hosts the pilot for a cable series, “Covert Kitchens.”
This one seems to fit the modern mentality of many chefs,
Elliot said. “The new generation is more punk-rock, tattooed, against the
These people don’t wait for corporate invitations. One trend
has instant restaurants in odd places.
Now “Covert Kitchens” turns that into a reality task. In the
pilot, Elliot said, a chef is given a car garage. “He has 36 hours and $3600 to
do everything – the food, the restaurant, the staff.”
Elliot can view this from both sides now. He’s:
Solidly in the establishment. Elliot runs two
restaurants in Chicago, one a high-end spot where President Obama celebrated a
birthday with Oprah Winfrey and others, the other a bistro; he’s also starting
one in Greenwich, Conn.
Still a rock guitarist, which is how this
Elliot, 36, grew up in Washington State and elsewhere, with
a dad who was big in the Navy. “He was an enlisted man who became
sailor-of-the-year …. He was very goal-driven.”
So much that he became an officer, reaching captain (just a
step below admiral). By comparison, the son’s goals didn’t start until he was
17 and working in kitchens; culinary school and fame followed.
Lately, cooking-interest has become bigger and Elliot has
become smaller. Once just short of 400 pounds, he’s lost more than 100 since
getting stomach surgery. “People keep saying I look younger.”
Meanwhile, cooking has propelled. “MasterChef Junior” shows
that, with kids 8 to 13, already focused. Some, said fellow judge Gordon Ramsay,
“were going for (cooking) lessons once or twice a week. (Their) standard of
food was extraordinary.”
And “Covert Kitchens” shows that with young chefs, ready to
create instant restaurants.
“Covert Kitchens,” 11 p.m. Sunday, Spike; reruns
at 2 a.m.
“MasterChef Junior,” 8 p.m. Fridays, Fox.