Executive Chef at Mad River Post, Executive Chef/Owner of In Your Kitchen
New York, NY
I am the executive chef for a company that edits commercials and documentaries. My parents made me go to college instead of culinary school but after being a graphic designer for five years, I decided to change careers and go to the French Culinary Institute. Besides feeding editors, I am a personal chef for high profile clients and a food stylist for culinary tv shows, print ads, and commercials. I've been on the road with everyone from Paula Deen, Rachel Ray, to the Iron Chef and was the executive chef on Saturday Night Live. I'm very versatile compared to a chef in a restaurant who has everything at their fingertips. Sometimes I'll go on a morning show and will have half a countertop and a microwave to make ten different entrées look like they came out of a professional kitchen. I have French training and run my kitchen in an organized military fashion. I cook American style with global influences. I have an advantage over restaurant chefs because I have to be creative and cook a new menu every day. I wouldn't compete on this show if I didn't think I could win.
Le Cirque- 58th and 3rd ave NYC
I took my first cooking class in college and from there I realized that I like to cook and it went from there. I had been majoring in Hotel/Restaurant management before that. My family tried to talk me out it, my dad is a Chinese chef and he knows the rigorous labor that comes with the job. But working in a cubicle isn't for me. I have confidence in myself and my abilities. I have unwavering support from my friends and family and colleagues and that's made me what I am today.
Sous Chef at Fresh Direct
Long Island City, NY
I started working in the food industry in 1986, working as a dishwasher with a kosher catering company in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I did it with 6 of my friends, we were like 18 years old just trying to make money. Then one of my friends from there went to the New York Food & Hotel Management school and they have some culinary classes. I was in art school but decided to give it a try. I went in and graduated 8 months later from their short course program. My first job was cook 1 at the Pembroke Room in midtown for celebs who were doing movies in NYC. From there I never looked back, just cooking and traveling. If I don't win, it's not the end of the world. But winning would be BIG TIME bragging rights at work. Everyone in the company would know who I am then.
WINNER!: Cody Utzman
Executive Chef/Restaurateur at three restaurants – Papacitos, Brooklyn Label, and Brooklyn Standard
I got into cooking out of necessity. If I didn't cook, my sisters and I wouldn't eat because my mom was an alcoholic and drug addict. I didn't go to high school and went from 8th grade to hanging out. I was living on my own in an apartment with some punk kids at 16. Eventually I got a job as a graveyard shift cook at a diner without any professional experience other than Burger King. I was really fast and was able to do hundreds of tickets by myself. That inspired me to get formal training. So I went to a French culinary school at a community college. I worked at a lodge in Wyoming near Yellowstone and got promoted to be the line cook because I could work a 2 or 3 person shift by myself. I worked at an Italian restaurant, at a fishing lodge in Alaska in middle of the bush, a budhist temple resort in Hawaii, Arizona, and Island off the coast of Washington, etc. From 17 – 21 I did a bunch of seasonal jobs and learned all sorts of things. I worked in Boston for five years as a private chef for a wealthy family. I ended up settling in Greenpoint, BK. I couldn't get a job at any fine dining restaurants because I didn't have NY experience as a head chef. I realized I had to do something on my own. So I started my own restaurant.