What do you get when you mix breakfast cereal, a passion for food and a keen ability to multi-task? Rob Bleifer, the executive chef who manages 15 different Food Network shows. I caught up with Rob for a rapid-fire round:
SC: Thanks for your time. I know it’s hectic right now with Sunny taping. Love her! So, if you could be any Food Network talent, who would you be and why?
Rob Bleifer: Too many to choose from… Maybe Alton? Who wouldn’t want to host Iron Chef? Or Bobby? Who wouldn’t want to be an Iron Chef and still Throwdown across the US? Then again, as Michael Symon, you could be an Iron Chef and still pull off Dinner Impossible. Maybe Mario…but I’m not sure I have the temperament for shorts and clogs all year long!
SC: How long have you worked here and what’s the best part?
RB: 13 years. The best thing has to be working in the heart of the most food-centric place in US — or for that matter, the world.
SC: Excuse me for a second, Rob. What’s that? (We’re in the kitchens, and I’m drooling over what looks like an irresistible ball of fried dough, encased in sugar.)
RB: That’s a test for Food Network Magazine. A twist on a beignet. Would you like one?
FN Dishers mark your calendars for the July/August issue — wow…delicious!
SC: And we’re back… What experiences stand out from your tenure here?
RB: Let’s see… Once I put out an actual fire in Kitchen Stadium. A fry pot of oil got too hot and ignited. Actually, the best was being one of the chefs during a full Iron Chef tech rehearsal. Everyone was there but the competing chefs. We were able to do a pre-tape rehearsal and show off the culinary talents of the FN kitchen staff.
The kitchen staff divided into two teams and a coin toss determined the chef for the rehearsal. The rehearsal secret ingredients always err on the goofy side: spam, breakfast cereal, etc. “Battle of the Breakfast Cereal” was our secret when I was up. Alton loved our dishes — raved! I made an oyster po’ boy with Corn Flakes and the opposing team made shrimp tempura with Rice Krispies. Alton noted, “Two of the best dishes I’ve had in long while.”
SC: Hmmm, fish and cereal. I don’t think I am that adventurous yet. I have to ask for your catch phrase. Anne’s got “Bye-bye, my Sweeties” Rachael and “Yum-o,” Emeril has “Bam.” What’s yours?
RB: “Live to eat!”
Oh, that’s good. Cool, if I borrow? LIVE TO EAT, my friends.