You probably recognize him as the funny-guy runner-up from Season 6 of The Next Food Network Star, but Tom Pizzica is back on Food Network in a big way. To celebrate tonight’s premiere of Outrageous Food (10 pm/9c), we chatted with Tom about his new gig, his favorite on and off-camera memories from Star and even the menu from his recent wedding.
You got a first glimpse of the show along with fans during last week’s sneak peek, featuring a 105-pound burger. Where’d you watch?
I was in Minnesota with the production company. We had a big party, and my mom came, which was really nice. Seeing the show was as much fun as I thought it was going to be, it comes off as fun as it was to film. It’s going to be awesome—a fun way to spend a Friday night.
Of all the cities you visited, what were your top three favorites and why?
I really enjoyed Minneapolis, a great town. It’s just a nice little city. It kind of looks brand new but it’s not. It’s got a cool little downtown, fun little bars and the people are really nice. I’d never been to Chicago before and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a great food city and I finally had my first real deep dish, which was fantastic. And I gotta say, New York was fantastic. It was my first shoot, after the Next Food Network Star finale aired, and my first time being in New York as a kind of a “star.” I had a lot of nerves going on, but everything worked out well.
What did you miss most when on the road for the show?
I missed cooking my own meals. Eating out every night is just brutal, after a while you just want a home-cooked meal. I like to make my famous chicken cutlets, some rice…my wife makes a lot of pasta. She would eat pasta every day of the week if she could. So we do real simple, traditional stuff. Homey. Sometimes I get an itch to get really creative and there are a lot of great markets around me, so I just get to the market and put something together.
What were some funny moments from traveling and filming that we may not get to see?
We had such a great time with the whole crew and the cast…well, I guess I’m the only cast member, but all the camera guys and the sound guys and the whole crew, we got along really well. I don’t know if there are bloopers that are really PG, but we had a lot of fun on the set.
Favorite memories from The Next Food Network Star?
The food truck was one of my favorite things of all time, when we did Dick Bombay. Being in the top three, doing the pilot with Rachael Ray, that was unbelievable. Off-camera, we had a killer Super Bowl party. I was trying all kinds of beers from around the world. We were all in L.A. and I think only two had been eliminated at that point. It was a real day off so we let loose and had a really good time.
How was making this show different from the NFNS experience?
A lot less stressful! It was your own show— that just makes it that much more special. All the work I put in during NFNS to earn me this show really made it worthwhile. The content is really different, and it’s right up my alley. I’m not getting judged. Well, the public will judge me but there’s no direct evaluation after every show for my performance!
You got married shortly after wrapping NFNS. What was on the menu for your wedding?
We had some really good food but I don’t think I even ate that night! We got married in Napa and had around-the-world stations: A dim sum station that was really killer, a Napa Valley springtime station with some halibut, some lamb, spring pea puree. It was really nice and everyone enjoyed it. I just didn’t get a chance to try much!
Personal favorites from tonight’s episode of Outrageous Food?
There’s a $175 burger, which was the coolest thing I ever saw. Kobe, truffles, foie gras…it’s so rich. The one $30 bite I had was enough!
Catch Outrageous Food tonight at 10pm/9c to see that decadent burger for yourselves, plus a 72-inch burrito, alligator corn dogs and more.