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When it comes to gambling, there’s more to it than luck. Strategy plays an important part in how a game is won or lost, whereas cooking — especially competitively — requires skill. These two traits are necessary for contestants if they wish to excel in Food Network’s new series Kitchen Casino, which premieres Monday, April 7 at 9|8c. Only those chefs who can balance both have the opportunity to win the jackpot.
FN Dish recently caught up with Bill Rancic, the host of Kitchen Casino, to talk about the show, what’s expected of the contestants and what he thinks are the tools they need to succeed in this unique competition.
How would you summarize the concept of the show in a few words? What can viewers expect to see?
Bill Rancic: Original, exciting, authentic. It’s a cooking competition show like we’ve never seen before, because it involves not only culinary skills but also strategy. We’re incorporating three different casino-themed cooking challenges into the game. Not only do you have to be an amazing chef, you have to be very smart and be able to think on your feet.
Who do you think the show will appeal to most?
BR: I think the great thing about Kitchen Casino is that you don’t have to be a gambler, you don’t have to love gambling, to love this show. This show is so fast-paced, so fun to watch, and it’s really incredible to see the skill level that some of these chefs bring. Whether you love gambling or whether you don’t, you’re going to really love Kitchen Casino.
What do you think is the most difficult round?
BR: I think the most difficult round, and my favorite one, is Chef Roulette, because our kitchen is no ordinary kitchen. It spins like a roulette wheel. These chefs will be preparing their dishes on their cooking stations and all of a sudden, out of the blue, the kitchen will start spinning. They’ll wind up having to take over someone else’s dish in progress and have to finish it. That’s where I think skill really comes into play.
Thinking about the gambling aspect, do you think luck plays a major part in a contestant succeeding or not?
BR: I think at the end of the day, it’s how well the chefs prepare the food. But what food they prepare comes down to luck. I think the more skilled you are in different cuisines, the more successful you’ll be in Kitchen Casino. If you’re a one-trick pony, you’re not going to survive Chef Roulette; there’s no question about it, because you’re getting a lot of different dishes thrown your way. There may be a dish with a strong Italian influence, and if you’re not familiar with cooking Italian food, you could really be backed into a corner that you can’t get out of.
What do you think are some necessary traits that competitors need to play the games?
BR: I think certainly you have to love to win, you have to have heart and you’ve got to be really willing to work hard. You have to be able to think on your feet. You could be the best chef in the world and yet not quite comprehend the strategy well. So your cooking skills are very vital, and you have to be smart.
You’re familiar with reality competition. Is there any advice you can give to the chef competitors?
BR: I think you certainly have to come in here and not think about the money, because this is a high-stakes game in which you can win up to $30,000. I think when the chefs come in, all they think about is the money and not about the food; those are really the ones that go home early. You kind of just have to put the money and the jackpot aside and take it one challenge at a time.