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The second season of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off has been filled with challenges that have gone beyond the call of cooking and has had its share of celebrities pulling any antic at a chance of winning the competition. But tonight, the show has one winner, a very deserving individual who has gone through many ups and downs. FN Dish has the exclusive interview with the champion of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off.
Last night’s finale had the competition reduced to just two celebrities: Carnie and Dean. The challenge this time would have them cooking a dinner for 11 special guests made up of celebrity chefs and VIPs. In 90 minutes they would each create a three-course meal, which would be voted upon by the dinner guests. By the end a winner would be declared and a donation of $50,000 would be handed out to his or her charity.
It was an even playing field for both Dean and Carnie. Neither would know what ingredients would be available to them in the kitchen. They did, however, have some time to meet with their mentors to come up with a plan. Guy advised Dean to focus on a lot of proteins that captured the theme of elegance and decadence. Rachael encouraged Carnie not to think about what Dean was making and to stick to the comfort foods she knows. Luckily Dean and Carnie wouldn’t be doing it all alone. Rachael brought in Carnie’s friend Amy and Guy brought in Dean’s friend Scout to help the celebrities get dinner prepped and cooked. Besides some nervousness and anxiousness on the part of the finalists, the dinner went off without a hitch.
When it came to discussing the dishes, most of the guests agreed that Carnie’s dishes were very flavorful, but sometimes suffered in plating, and Dean’s dishes were overly ambitious and overcomplicated but still flavorful. When it came to announcing the winner, Rachael and Guy surprised the celebrities with the news that the runner-up would also be receiving a donation to his or her charity of $10,000. And to join Dean and Carnie in the announcement would be their families. The result could have gone any which way, because only one vote separated the two contestants. But in the end, Dean was declared the winner (read Carnie’s interview here). Watch Dean’s interview below.
What was your goal in doing this competition?
Dean McDermott: I got into this competition to help a charity near and dear to my heart. Miracle Babies helps families in need of neonatal intensive care. It’s a charity that hits home because my wife and I were trying to prevent a premature birth with our fourth child. I want to help others in need. I’m playing for my wife and my children. The fact that my kids were there at the finale made the moment even more special.
What went through your head when they announced you were the winner?
DM: I wasn’t sure that I heard it right. It seemed too perfect. It felt surreal. I thought the vote would be really close and I didn’t know which way it would go. When they announced I was the winner I was shocked. I couldn’t believe I had won the competition. It was so weird because almost every emotion went out of my body. I was stunned more than anything. I really pushed myself. It was the hardest I’ve ever worked for something. I can’t believe I did it.
You came into the competition calling yourself the Gourmet Dad. How does it feel now to have taken the first step to possibly becoming a celebrity chef like Guy or Rachael?
DM: I started this competition wanting to win for my charity, Miracle Babies. That never changed throughout the competition — that’s what I was here for. But I also realized I was playing for validation. I came to the competition as the Gourmet Dad and I needed to prove myself. I didn’t want to just be a name and not show up with any goods. It was really important that I put my best foot forward, put my head down and do the absolute best I could. The fact that I won for my charity is amazing. But I also won as the Gourmet Dad. I got the validation. I have a passion for this and I want to pursue this. And it’s amazing I’m taking steps toward becoming a Guy Fieri or Rachael Ray. I aspire to have what they have. I have a passion for food and cooking, bringing people together and being the Gourmet Dad. I’ve got some street cred as the Gourmet Dad — now I can go around and say that I’m the Rachael vs. Guy Season-2 Champion.
What have you learned on this journey? How has your level of cooking changed in comparison to when you started?
DM: The journey that I’ve been on in this competition has taken me from a pretty good cook to a great cook with a lot of confidence, who also has a lot more to learn and wants to learn. I’ve cooked for Rachael and Guy, for people with discerning palates and for little kids who are nothing but completely honest. I’ve cooked for restaurant owners, critics and star chefs. The confidence that it has given me is amazing. The mentorship that Guy has given me and his energy, knowledge and inspiration have made me a hundred times better than when I started this competition. It’s made me even thirstier for knowledge. I want to know more. I want to get better. I want to keep going with this. Winning this competition has all signs pointing to “Yes, you are doing the right thing, going down the right path.” I’m in love with cooking now more than ever. I would do this competition all over again.
What’s next for you?
DM: I want to go back to school and get my associate degree. I want to be the Gourmet Dad on Food Network. I want to open restaurants. I’ve always wanted to have a food truck. I think I’ll start with the food truck first and then move up to the restaurant. I found a great friend in Guy Fieri and I want to cultivate that friendship. I think he’s a great guy. I learned so much from him. He’s offered me opportunities that you can’t pass up. He’s invited me to come to his restaurants and work there, in the kitchen, with the manager, the service staff — just to learn everything that there is to learn about the restaurant business in a hands-on environment. Who does that? He’s an amazing guy. He’s the real deal.
You had a stronger relationship with Guy that anyone else on your team. What was your relationship like? Are you guys going to get tattoos together?
DM: I was really excited to meet Guy. I had never met him before. I’ve met Rachael before and she’s amazing. But I was nervous to meet Guy. We have a lot of things in common. We both have tats. We’re both edgy dads. He likes hot rods, I like motorcycles. Because of that we’re very similar guys, except for the hair and that I don’t wear my sunglasses on the back of my head, though I might start. We hit it off right from the start. He’s just a dude, a guy. He’s someone I can relate to. He certainly has made something of himself but he never forgot where he came from. I grew up with nothing and I’ve become successful in my chosen career. And I don’t forget that. I think that if you’re phony, it will catch up with you. He’s a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy and so am I. We connected on that level.
Guy and I made a pact, that if I won we’d have to get some new ink. I’d like to take him to see my tattoo guy and I would love to get R vs. G tattooed somewhere with the date I won the competition and — I know lots of people have it — but a knife and a fork crossed, or a knife and a wrench crossed. I want something cool and culinary.
Guy’s career started on a competition show. Do you think a cooking career might happen for you now?
DM: I hold out a lot of hope. Guy started by winning a Food Network competition show and look at him now — he’s a rock star, the face of the network. I was driving home the other day and I kept seeing Guy on all the billboards. He’s all over. He’s so identifiable with the spiky blonde hair, the glasses, chains and tats. Maybe I could go that same route. I’d love to. He’s so successful and I’m really impressed with how he started. I might be the next Guy Fieri or Deano Fieri.
How does it feel to have won?
DM: I’m so thrilled to have won for so many different reasons. And I’m so happy that I managed to put one up on the scoreboard for Guy. It was looking pretty bad there for a while — it was down to just me, I was the only representative for Team Guy. I didn’t want to be that person who didn’t bring the win home for Guy. I didn’t want to be on the losing team. He so deserves it and I wanted to win it for him. I am the first win for Guy Fieri on Rachael vs. Guy. I wanted to be that guy and now I am.
What is the biggest thing you learned about yourself through all of this?
DM: I’m really proud of myself. Aside from having my children and my beautiful wife, this is one of the most amazing things that I’ve done. I learned so much about myself. I learned to put myself out there and to not be afraid of the outcome, just to try my best. I won for all the people and the reasons I wanted to. And I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and I certainly couldn’t have done it without the love and support of my family.
Donate to Dean’s chosen charity, Miracle Babies.