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Christopher Lynch, 39, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, spent time working with some of the country’s finest restaurateurs and has become a rock star chef in his own right. Christopher carved his own food path with a modern take on the Cajun and Creole cuisine of his adopted hometown of New Orleans. Read on below to hear from Christopher, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.
Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Christopher: My culinary point of view is through my 20-plus years of cooking professionally; I'm taking all my experiences and everything I've done and putting it through a New Orleans lens, where I'm cooking currently.
Which mentor are you most excited to learn from?
Christopher: Alton Brown seems the most critical yet constructive. ... It seems like he is really the one, more than the other two, dissecting what's working for you and what's not working for you. I mean, they are all great.
Which mentor do you find to be the most intimidating?
Christopher: Maybe Bobby because I know where he's coming from. I used to work around the corner from Mesa Grill when I was just a young line cook struggling in New York City. I know he was there. I know he's paid his dues in kitchens, so I don't think there's any, like, pulling the wool or blowing smoke with Bobby Flay. At the same time, I think he'll respect me and where I've been and who I've worked with — and kind of see that we've come up similar.
What is one thing you most want to convey to the judges about you, your food or your would-be show on Food Network?
Christopher: Ten years ago, five years ago, I never would have thought I could do this. But now with this opportunity, it's like you're breaking into a new arena. You're reaching more people. You may cook for a hundred, 200 people a night. This is a way to reach thousands of people with your ideas, your experiences. ... I'd like to be able to take my experiences and share them with an audience at home. … I'm coming from New Orleans, I've made my name there. I can do it in a New Orleans way, which everybody relates to. I don't care what city you're from; there's, like, a New Orleans restaurant in every town in America. So, you can do it with the music and the drink and the fun and the dancing. It's a good time.
What’s your Achilles’ heel ingredient, one that you hate to work with?
Christopher: If I find something that's tough to work with, I usually try to learn how to work with it, whether it's a flavor profile or an actual ingredient. Beets were always kind of a turn-off. I just didn't really care for them, and then over the years with all the different varieties — baby beets and colors and textures — it's one of those things I've grown to love. But there was a time where I just was not interested, and I realized there's a lot of people out there that do like beets. So, you got to give people what they want. It can't just be what you like or what you want to cook.
What's your guilty pleasure food?
Christopher: There's two of them. It's ice cream, which it's hard to sit down and not eat a whole pint when you buy a pint. It's hard. ... But I'm like a potato chip guy. All the way.
What's your favorite late-night snack?
Christopher: I try not to eat too late. As a cook, as a chef, I'm up early. I try to get to bed right after work these days. But it wasn't always that way. If I'm going to go out and eat after work before they close, I love some sushi. Sushi's fresh. I don't feel as guilty eating a couple rolls or some sashimi late at night after work. Maybe a little glass of sake to wash it all down with. Maybe once a month I'll do that.
What's one must-have at your last supper?
Christopher: I love uni. I love uni since the first time I tried it. It's not for everybody, but it's definitely for me. I like when people cook with it and they hide it in food. It's that secret ingredient sometimes. It's just completely pleasurable. It's just that umami — I love that. It's a neat one.
Rapid fire: Think fast!
Ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise? Ketchup
Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla
Bagels or doughnuts? Both.
Cream cheese or butter? Cream cheese
Coffee or tea? Coffee
French fries or onion rings? French fries
Burgers or hot dogs? Hot dogs
Cake or pie? Pie
Beer or wine? Wine
Waffles or pancakes? Pancakes, all the way
Click the play button on the video below to hear from more Christopher.
It's going to be a summer of heated competition as Food Network Star gears up for its most-explosive season yet, a 10th year of putting hopeful rivals through the job interview of their lives. To make it to August and ultimately land a sought-after television career — Food Network show host — finalists will have to impress mentor-judges Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis with the coveted combination of cooking chops and on-camera charm. Season 10 kicks off Sunday, June 1 at 9|8c, but before then, FN Dish is introducing fans to all of the contestants. This year's crop of competitors boasts business owners, executive chefs, world travelers and farm-to-table enthusiasts — not to mention fiery personalities, over-the-top entertainers and undeniable competitive spirits. Check back every day to meet another finalist, then learn more about each of them by checking out their casting videos.