4/22/2013 01:00:00 PM

A Chat With Chad Rosenthal of Food Network Star

Photo courtesy Food Network
The ninth season of Food Network Star is set to air this summer, and joining 11 other hopefuls is a local rep. Chad Rosenthal, formerly of Rosey's BBQ, took a couple months off from preparing to open The Lucky Well in Ambler to compete for the privilege of hosting his own show under the watchful eye of judges Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis.

How did Rosenthal do? We can’t say - you’ll have to watch the show to find out - but we did discover Chad used to play cooking show games as a kid, is a food TV addict who enjoys Guy Fieri, and didn't end up hating any of his competitors, even though he was sure he would. Read on to find out more about our newest Philly-area reality star.

Zagat: When did you find out you made it on the show?
Chad Rosenthal: I found out right after Christmas - I think it was December 30. I had a to cook for a private party on New Year’s Eve, but that didn’t stop me from celebrating. It was an awesome holiday present.

Zagat: Have you always wanted to be on TV?
CR: Not exactly, but when I was a kid, my friend Brett and I used to play a game where we had a cooking show called “Cayenne Kitchen.”

Zagat: Was there a specific show that inspired the game?
CR: I did watch cooking shows - there weren’t anywhere near as many as there are now - but I can’t really remember any of their names. I do remember loving Mr. Wizard, especially when he did segments in the kitchen.

That’s also where I got my cooking style. I’m not a trained chef, I’m a cook, and I learn by experimentation. When I wanted to serve Korean fried chicken, I went and ate a lot of it, then went back to my kitchen and figured out how to make it work.

Zagat: How did you get the idea to try to be on Food Network Star?
CR: Since those games as a kid, I never gave any thought to being on TV, but then my brother got involved. He was on The Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad, so he was keen on the TV thing. He sent me a Craigslist ad for Food Network Star, saying, “This is perfect for you, you have to do this.”

The first year I auditioned, I got relatively far through the process before getting cut. Then I went back last year and I was picked as the alternate - which was a good thing, in the end, because I was running two restaurants, so being on the show would have been a lot of trouble.

It was different this year, since I was between projects, and when the network came to Philly to hold auditions, the casting agent called and set up a private interview. And here we are, I made it on. The timing was perfect.

Zagat: What was it like to be on the show?
CR: It was awesome. I met 11 other great people, and we all got along. To get this far, to get on the cast of this show, you had to have some kind of outrageous personality, but I don’t have anything bad to say about any of the other competitors. Really, I was waiting to hate someone, but it just didn’t happen.

Zagat: What’s your favorite food TV show to watch?
CR: I love all food TV. I like Chopped, and also love Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I love watching him cook, and I love watching him eat - he doesn’t really care what he looks like. It’s amazing how he can work so well in others people’s kitchens after being there for just a few minutes.

Zagat: Say you won and got to host your own Food Network show. What would it be about?
CR: I’m a BBQ guy - I do cook all types of food, but I fell in love with BBQ. There’s a lot of BBQ on TV already, but my show wouldn’t be about cook-offs or competitions, or about hitting the most famous joints across the country. I like the people who have love and passion for the art of BBQ but just do it in their backyards. They’re not famous - except maybe to the people in their small town - but their meat is amazing. I’d travel to these people and do a show about their BBQ, doing it their way.

Zagat: When does your restaurant open? Do you think being on the show will help its success?
CR: We’re targeting early July for The Lucky Well. As for being on the show, how can it not help the restaurant? That wasn’t my intention, but I’ll take it. I’m a local guy, I grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs, and Ambler is such a great scene right now, an old Main Street that’s being revived. I’m thrilled to be part of it.

Food Network Star premieres 9 PM, Sunday, June 2

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