Chef, restaurateur, and all-around bad ass Robert Irvine definitely kept us entertained and interested over the years with shows like Dinner: Impossible and Restaurant Impossible. But starting on November 3rd, Irvine is into a whole new game. His newest show Restaurant Express is hitting the Food Network like a freight train full of grub and knowledge so if you can't get enough of Robert like we can't, tune in for your chance to get some new tips that you can use in your own life in a ton of areas. Plus, you'll be thoroughly engrossed in the excitement of a little friendly competition at the same time.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): I'm really excited for your new show Restaurant Express. Can you break down the way it will work for us?
Robert Irvine: Sure, let me kind of give you an overview. There are nine contestants and some of them are chefs, some of them are not, some are moms, and some are from the military. So they're from all walks of life. There is a bus that has eight beds in it so obviously, we can only carry eight people in that bus. The challenges on every episode are based on running a successful business. In this case, it's a restaurant. The principles in the restaurant business are marketing, leadership, menus, cooking, financial…there all of these things that they need to know in order to run a successful restaurant so I teach them. There are challenges and one person will be sent home at the end of each episode.
So what is the end game?
The last one on the bus gets the opportunity to achieve the dream of a lifetime, which is opening a restaurant at The M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas. They'll be the executive chef with their menu and their décor. That's the dream that all nine of the contestants have had. They win the dream of owning a restaurant.
During the competition, what different cities did you travel to?
We started in Las Vegas and then went to Temecula, Santa Monica, Newport Beach, San Diego…it was all west coast. Then we ended up back in Las Vegas.
It would seem like a pretty tight space to live on the “Restaurant Express bus.” Was there any fighting or did they keep the peace?
Oh yeah! They were very good though. One thing that I am proud of with the Food Network is that our reality shows are real. We don't need to supply them with drinks to set them on top of each other. Life is what it is and they'll do what they do. We took their phones away but other than that, they lived on the bus and challenged each other. There's psychology in thinking about what the other person is going to do next but, that's a given when you put eight people on a bus right?
For sure! I love what you just said and I totally agree with you because I hate it when reality shows feed people alcohol to create drama. Now, you didn't stay on the bus too did you?
I didn't stay on the bus because I needed to be separated from them. At the end of the day, I'm teaching them, it's my bus, it's my rules, and I didn't want to get any closer to them than I already was based on the show itself. If you live with them, you get to know them and you've got to be careful about that in order to remain open-minded. When I met the cast I had no preconceived notions or ideas about anyone because this is one show that if you're a chef, you don't have an advantage over a mother or a service member. The only advantage that you have of being a chef is that you can cook but, what about the rest of the things that you need to do to run a restaurant?
I gotcha! I'm a big fan of Restaurant: Impossible so I'm sure this is going to be just as awesome.
Restaurant: Impossible is different than Restaurant Express because there is still tough love, but in a very different way. Even though they'll get off the bus, their dream is still there and they'll leave knowing something that they didn't before which I think is very important.
You're fun to watch because you're really good at dishing out tough love and then you have this sensitive side. That's a compliment by the way.
I take it that way, thank you. I think that I care, you know? Restaurant: Impossible is so meaningful to me because I care about the people, their kids, their families, their houses, and the stress that they go through. With Restaurant Express, there is this different kind of caring because you want to nurture and teach. They've got a goal in mind and I want to help them reach that goal. I really get invested in all of the contestants and try to guide them the best way I can.
You're a sweetheart. Don't worry though, I won't tell anyone. So tell me, did any of the contestants get sinful in “Sin City?“
No. [Laughs.] We kept them very busy I can assure you!
You can get more info on Chef Robert Irvine on his website www.ChefIrvine.com and by following him on Twitter @RobertIrvine. You can also pick up his new protein bar, “Fit Crunch” by heading over to www.fitcrunchbars.com. Be sure you tune in to catch the premiere of Restaurant Express on Food Network this Sunday November 3rd at 6 pm (PST). For more info on Restaurant Express, go to www.FoodNetwork.com/Restaurant-Express.