Star-a-Day: Rob Burmeister

Get to know Rob Burmeister, a finalist on Food Network Star, Season 12.

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Eddy Chen, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Rob Burmeister.

Rob, 45 (Staten Island, N.Y.), started out washing dishes 25 years ago and hasn’t looked back since. His culinary resume is quite extensive, and it includes his role as executive chef and owner of his own catering and private chef company in New York City. Rob would like to teach viewers how to use and combine meal leftovers to make delicious dishes.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.

Rob Burmeister: My culinary POV is like taking a walk on the wild side of American comfort food.

Who are you most intimidated to be working with, Bobby or Giada?

RB: I'm probably most intimidated working with Giada because she's a beautiful professional woman, and she can really stop you.

If you could ask one of them to teach you one thing in the kitchen, what would it be?

RB: I would like for Giada to teach me some of those real-deal Italian dishes so I can impress all my goombah friends in Staten Island.

What one thing do you really want to convey to the mentors about who you are?

RB: I'd really like to show them that I'm a fun-loving, big dude that loves to cook, entertain and have a great time, and that's how my show would be: all fun all the time.

How did you prepare for this competition?

RB: I prepared for this competition probably for like the last eight years. I've done a lot of Food Network competitions — Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen twice — and a few other things, and I think I'm ready for the big leagues now.

Win or lose, what's something you want to take away from this contest?

RB: Win or lose, for me it's not about winning the whole thing. It's making really good TV and not making a fool of myself, so I really want to get some new fans and just show me to the world.

What's your greatest strength in the kitchen?

RB: Besides being the comedian guy whatever, my greatest strength in the kitchen is remastering leftovers and using odd ingredients to do original comfort food. I don't throw anything away. I save everything, from fat to bones to extra meat. So that's what it is: My biggest strength is using everything and making fantastic dishes out of stuff that other people would throw out.

What is the strangest thing we'd find in your refrigerator right now?

RB: I'll give you the refrigerator and freezer. The only thing in my refrigerator right now is I came upon 200 pounds of rutabagas and turnips, so I gave a lot away. But I had about 100 pounds, so I fermented about 5 gallons of rutabaga sauerkraut. So I have that in there. And then I have turnip kimchi and an Asian rutabaga relish that I made. And rutabaga pickles. So it's only that in my fridge. And in my freezer, I have probably about 30 quarts of bacon fat that I made candles and soap with, as well as cooked with. And Ziploc bags of pigs' blood to make blood sausage.

What do you consider to be your signature dish?

RB: My signature dish, I would have to give Phil Corr homage, because I made a Nantucket crab cake. I mean, I do a lot of burgers and stuff like that, and I've won competition. But my signature, I think, it's a nice jumbo lump crab cake with a maple bacon creamed corn underneath. ... I always change what I put on top.

What's your favorite food city to visit?

RB: There's none other than where I live. New York City is the food state. But there's one that I do want to visit, and that's Austin, Texas, for some reason. I really want to do all that barbecue and smoked meats and stuff like that — giant cuts of meat. So I'd like to try Austin, but New York — there's nothing like it. The pizza, the bagels. Can't beat it. And the Chinese food is great.

What dish or ingredient will we never catch you eating?

RB: I will eat just about anything, but there is one dish that I know I would never be able to swallow, and that is that almost-hatched fermented Filipino egg, where it's a whole chicken in it with the bones. I would never get past that because I hate when I find a hair in my food, let alone a handful of feathers.

What's your favorite late-night snack?

RB: My favorite late-night snack is white toast, peanut butter and bacon.

What's your guilty-pleasure food?

RB: I'm a big fan of peanut butter. I mean, I have a jar of peanut butter on my headboard at all times with a Solo cup full of Wendy's spoons because I don't eat during the day. I'm so heavy because I eat laying in bed. That's when I get hungry. So I eat spoonfuls of peanut butter and that's my guilty pleasure. I can eat that day in, day out.

What is one must-have dish at your last supper?

RB: A must-have dish at my last supper would definitely have to be a giant table with newspaper on it and just blue claw crab and lobster. Love it. I get the gout, so I don't like to eat it that much, but steamed blue claws with that Maryland seasoning on it. ... Giant ice-cold pitcher of beer, crabs and lobster, and I'm good.

What do you want to say about yourself to fans watching at home?

RB: Don't be intimidated by my voice or my, you know, giant heavy stature or whatever. 'Cause I really am this adorable, cuddly, big, everybody's-best-friend guy. So stick with me and you'll have some fun.

Rapid fire: Think fast!
Ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise? Mayo
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Bagels or doughnuts? Both
Cream cheese or butter? Butter
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Burgers or hot dogs? Both
French fries or onion rings? Onion rings
White meat or dark? Dark meat
Cake or pie? Cake
French toast or pancakes? French toast
Beer or wine? Beer

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Don't miss the premiere of Food Network Star, Season 12 on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c.

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