My Friends Call Me Big Chef

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, August 9, 2010

Tom Pizzica, Next Food Network Star Finalist

Oh God, there it is again. You would think with 9 weeks down in this competition this feeling of raw nerves in the pit of my stomach would have diminished a little bit by now. With my hanging-on each week and practically clawing my way through 9 other finalists to reach this: the pinnacle, the finale, I can honestly say that I’ve never worked harder at anything in my life. It is probably because I’ve never wanted anything more than this!

I have only one solo Star challenge victory under my belt, but I made it to the end and I could not be prouder of what I’ve accomplished so far. The Committee sees something in me, and I cannot let them down with a ho-hum “slacker Tom doesn’t care” performance on the pilot!

Waking up in NYC the morning of the pilot shoots, I still can’t believe I made it this far. Well...I guess I can believe it, but there is still the biggest challenge yet to go. Oh God, I’m going to throw up. This is it. This is why I fought tooth and nail (and got some good luck) for nine weeks. This is my “Big Chef” pitch to the Network, the last chance to blow away my competition and win my dream, and it has to be more perfect than anything I’ve done so far. It will be. “Big Chef” isn’t a cooking technique. It’s more of a cooking philosophy and a way of life in the kitchen that is absolutely 100% me and one I’ve been working on for 18 years. No fear Big Chef and stay bold and in control Big Chef. Man, I really should have eaten something this morning instead of pounding 3 cups of coffee. I should know better by now!

Giada De Laurentiis on The Next Food Network Star In the car over to Chelsea Market, Aarti, Herb and I run through the list of Food Network stars we have met along the way and those who we have not. We know somebody big is going to help mentor our pilots and we all guess Giada since she knows us and has been there for us throughout the competition (I would have been dead in the water at the Grove challenge if not for her advice and guidance!).

Rachael Ray on The Next Food Network StarSo when Rachael Ray shows up...well, it doesn’t help the nerves at all! She’s the master! The guru of cooking and talking at the same time! To say I’m intimidated would loosely describe my emotions; however, like all the personalities we have crossed paths with in this competition she is warm, genuine, and well receiving. She gives me great confidence and advice going into my pilot, and then she tells us she will be there to direct them. I can’t be more excited to get in the studio. Hi Rachael, I’m Tom Pizzica, my friends call me Big Chef.

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Comments (1,940)

  1. James says:

    TOM!
    I am surprised they let you guys all post yer own stuff on here! Unexpected.

    Out of those left, I am rooting for YOU.

    Aarti has consistently good food, but i feel her focus is narrow and frankly, while I might try a new spice or two, I am simply "not all that interested" in her Point-of-view. Aartis mousiness--and what i consider to be false modesty, just bugs me, but the judges seem to like her. Who knows? I think YOU, Tom, are more of the best-of-both-worlds and more balanced on Cooking AND presentation/connecting with audience.
    Stay IN-formal, informative, and mildly humorous (dont overdo it or get weird). I hope you win. Dont knock yer opponents, just make yer own stuff be quality.

    Herb has more energy (sometimes too much) and is competition....but you arent the roller-coaster of emotions he has been, although he seems to be toning it down recently. Herb's problem is consistency, but you already know that, as even the judges have mentioned it. Herb would be my 2nd choice, at this point, if you dont win. But hopefully, you will. My advice to you is to keep being you.
    "Run yer own race". If i would change anything about you, it would be-- a little less risks and more Quality--(pay even MORE attention to all the nuts-n-bolts practical details of preparing the food.
    Your creativity rocks--BUT--put MORE emphasis on doing WHATEVER you do, very very well. i.e...the right temperatures...the right length of times....the right tenderness...the right AMOUNT of seasonings/flavours. Remember your best things you've done right--and dont AMP them up 300%, just continue to repeat them. Learn from the advice given on yer Iron Chef challenge. Details matter. Tone down hand gestures. Your informal conversation is good. smile. Good luck.

    • TVBubbleBurster says:

      Remember this is TELEVISION and you can not taste the food!!! So how do you really know it is good???? They can also cut and edit anything to create drama. They know from day one who they want and what kind of show they need for the channel's line up!! Sorry to burst bubbles!!!!

      • James says:

        But the the judges have to think the food tastes good.
        Details and preparation matter. When you know its turning out great, it is easier
        to be calm and confident when talking about it.

      • Dee says:

        Your name says it all!!!! You're not sorry to burst bubbles... you look for opportunities to do so!

    • Mike says:

      I would agree that with the three remaining chefs left Tom should be the winner. With that said the "judges" have picked the wrong person since Aaron McCargo beat out Adam Gertler in that season's debacle.What an obvious we blew it call (or was the public back-lash too much?) You see Adam in more shows that have more appeal than who they picked to be the winner. Then you have last season's winner... If you can't fall asleep and need something to put you out just watch a few minutes of "Ten Dollar Meal" and that should do the trick. (that is if you can still find it). The unfortunate truth of the matter is that pampered chef Bobby Flay picks who he wants to win by the third week and then pouts and brow beats his way to the end. Bob and Susie throw in occasional fodder along the way while Bobby just powers over them. My opinion, maybe Bobby just picks the "weaker" chef so he won't get less face time in front of the camera than say Guy Fieri.

  2. JackJones says:

    Tom, I hope you arent hinting at something bad when you mention that you shouldve "eaten something this morning instead of pounding 3 cups of coffee. I should know better by now! "

    Please tell me that, that doesnt point to you being rambling man in the pilot! I really wanted you to pull this out.

  3. Grandma Joyce says:

    Tom, your personality is that of a big risk taker, thank you for taking the risk to try out for this. Your tuna-tale was great and impressive. My whole family has been watching this and we all wish each of you the very best!

  4. Jane P. says:

    You have our vote! You're definitely the most interesting of the finalists! Good luck!

  5. Brando says:

    Tom I am voting for you! You are the only person left that has the carisma that I would like to see on FN!

  6. Laura says:

    Tom
    Keep your hands under control and use your charm...You have what it takes...I'd love to watch your show..
    Aarti and Herb are easily rattled....so you focus...focus...Good Luck !!!!

  7. Lisa says:

    I am cheering for you Tom! Taste your food before you serve it and I think you will be golden. I would love to watch your show!

  8. Sarah J says:

    Tom, you get props for your flawless punctuation.

  9. Trudi Jespersen says:

    I'm voting for you Tom. I won't watch Aarti if she wins.

  10. Cherie Durbin says:

    I enjoyed your post, Tom. Good luck!