MTV’s House of Food premieres tonight and pits a group of aspiring chefs against each other in cooking competitions, all while living together in a Real World-style setting. The highly-regarded culinary masters tasked with training the rag tag bunch are chefs Casey Lane, Brendan Collins and Brooke Williamson. OK! sat down with the chefs to find out more about the heated competition and how the contestants dramatic antics in the house affected their on-the-job skills.
OK!: What made you want to do this show?
Brendan Collins: None of us start with professional training. We all have to start somewhere, right? That’s the reality to it. I think from my perspective it’s something that’s good for the industry. It gives people a real insight into what we do and how we do it and the steps you have to take to become a professional chef. It’s not just some ordinary cooking show. There’s a backdrop to it. It’s reality.
Casey Lane: It uncovers that unromantic portion of it. A lot of people say that unromantic portion of it being just the hours or the stress or whatever it is, but that’s the romantic portion to be honest. That shows your dedication. That stress level you live with fuels your fire to make sure you’re going to succeed but the other part of it, the having to start your way up and not knowing anything and getting yelled at a lot, that’s the unromantic portion of it. You need to have a certain type of individual and have heart to get through that and this is the first thing that is really going to show that.
Brooke Williamson: I came from a place where I didn’t have formal training and I learned in kitchens and I worked my way up. When I got into the business it wasn’t glamorous and I never had the intention in my head that I would get anywhere quickly. I think a lot of the younger generation who are delving into the food industry right now, I think it’s been glamorized to them and it’s really important to show people how unglamorous it is and how much work and dedication it takes to get to a certain point. It’s not a cake walk. I think we all did a really great job in expressing that in a professional way. I think they all came away from this experience with a very different thought of what it takes to be a chef than what they came in with.
BC: I would even say that there were a couple of them that came in with the intention of wanting to be TV chefs and through the experience we gave them were more interested in becoming restaurant chefs than TV chefs.
OK!: Which was more difficult—teaching them the skills in the kitchen or dealing with their big personalities?
CL: I think that’s what was enjoyable. We’re big personalities.
BW: In very different ways.
CL: : You have to be someone who can control an environment. You can pick your method of control. It doesn’t mean you have to be a yeller, but you have to have the fortitude to control an environment. They’re 22 year old kids and kids these days are pampered, right? We were the last generation, and I’m young, but I was the last generation to ride bikes without helmets and still have my dad say, “I’m gonna get your ass if you do this again.” Now they’re all so pampered that they think they can just mouth off. I think that ended very quickly once they met the three of us and it was like, “No, in this environment for what you want to achieve, it’s time to shut up. It’s time to actually apply knowledge and to do that, you’re going to have to listen.”
BW: I think they all came into this situation with a certain amount of respect for what they were getting into. They respected us as mentors pretty much from the get-go. I think the personalities that perhaps they exhibited in the house were not necessarily what we got in the kitchen.
BC: I also think from the get-go they came to our restaurants and worked real services in a restaurant that’s open to the public working with professional cooks and seeing the hierarchy and seeing the way a kitchen is set up and run correctly.
BW: I think initially it was terrifying for a lot of them having never been in that situation and having people depend on you to carry your own weight. It puts things into perspective.
OK!: What surprised you the most about this experience?
BC: That I actually enjoyed it.
CL: I would agree with that. I would also say how much the kids learned. That blew me away because I went to culinary school and I can tell you that what I learned in culinary school, there are maybe a handful of things I would actually apply to what I do now. I learned in kitchens.
BW: We all started our careers younger than this group and I had very low expectations, especially from the first challenge, very low expectations of what they would be capable of doing it. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of commitment some of them had and the level of performance they were able to get to in such a short period of time. It was honestly because some of them had an amazing passion for what they wanted to do and they worked at it.
House of Food premieres tonight on MTV.
What’s your favorite culinary competition show? Tell us in the comments or tweet @OKMagazine.