I know you’ve been counting down to the Chefs vs. City premiere tonight. In each episode, Food Network chefs Aarón Sánchez and Chris Cosentino challenge two local foodies to locate that city’s biggest, boldest, most unexpected food places.
When we asked super fast runner and Chefs vs. City co-star, Chris Cosentino, how to describe this new series in five words or less, he shot back, “exciting, funny, humbling and super competitive.”
Here’s a two-fer interview with Chris, and Photo Coordinator for Food Network, Melissa — two people who just happen to share a home city (keep reading to find out where), and spent an exciting day at a photo shoot. Like the stars on Chefs vs. City, let’s get things running.
SOMMER: Each Chef vs. City episode is in a new town with a new set of challenges. Which city was the most difficult to compete in and why?
CHRIS: Las Vegas was the most difficult. It was chaotic with so many people milling about. In addition to the crowds there was construction going on and it was disorienting. We kept getting lost!
S: Since much of the show involves your teammate, Aarón Sánchez, and you showing off your impressive tastebuds, what is the most insane thing that we’ll see you eat or discover in the name of Chefs vs. City?
C: I don’t want to give anything away, so let me just say that the audience will be surprised by the amazing variety of insane things we ate. I know Aarón and I were certainly surprised. As for what foods I discovered, I’d say my greatest discovery wasn’t a food, but the fact that people have so much pride in their cities. It was amazing to experience the hometown pride first-hand.
S: Melissa, I’m sure you’d agree that Chris and Aarón’s friendship is the third co-star of Chefs vs. City. What’s their dynamic like in person?
M: They were really friendly to everyone on the crew and kept coming up with alternative names for the show, which I wish I could remember. They are two peas in a pod; their personalities really complement each other, and they have a lot of pride in their restaurants and what they do.
S: Chris, how was the Chefs vs. City photo shoot — what’s it like seeing yourself on billboards or in promos?
C: The photo shoot was in a pouring rainstorm in the Meatpacking District in the early morning around 7am. The photographer, Peter Yang, had just shot Obama (for Rolling Stone at the time) so it was kind of weird to be his next assignment. Doing things with Aarón is always fun; he always brings levity to the moment — rain or shine! Seeing myself on the promos is a bit new to me. It’s kind of like hearing your voice on the answering machine times 1,000.
S: A shoot in the rain, huh? That must’ve been fun, Melissa!
M: We were shooting for possibly maybe 20 minutes before the clouds opened up, and there was lightning and crazy rain. Luckily, the photographer had three assistants, and they had a huge tarp to cover everything. So we ended up actually shooting [Chris and Aarón] in the rain. They had a great attitude throughout the shoot, and they were even offering to carry stuff when it started raining and when we changed locations.
S: Chris, speaking of cities, you and Melissa happen to both be from the beautiful San Francisco. In one of the upcoming episodes, you race around your home city. Having cooked there for thirteen years, what was it like going up against former colleagues and friends on your own show?
C: Knowing the city helps, but competing against colleagues and friends is always a bit weird. I have known the chefs I competed with in that episode for years, and they are both great friends and super-talented ladies. They make me a bit nervous. They know their stuff.
Happy Friday, and be sure to catch the premiere of Chef vs. City tonight at 10pm/9c.