9 Questions with Harrison Bader, New Food Network Star Finalist

We caught up with Harrison about his style in the kitchen and out.

Contestant Harrison Bader, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 14.

Photo by: Smallz & Raskind

Smallz & Raskind

Food Network Star is bringing the heat in the Season 14 premiere, with the first-of-its-kind episode in Florida. But before the fun in the sun — and some inevitable drama — begins on June 10, we’ve got the first interviews with all the hopefuls. Read on below to get to know them.

Don’t let Harrison’s sweet and charming demeanor fool you. Growing up, Harrison’s love for cooking came from family dinners around the table and working in the kitchen of his dad’s delis. While in college Harrison, 26, knew cooking was his future, and moving to Los Angeles and winning a television culinary competition allowed him to work with some of top chefs in the food world. Harrison is currently a personal chef, where he continues to highlight fresh and seasonal ingredients for his clients. Harrison is ready to bring his personality and skills to Food Network Star!

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Healthy, delicious and approachable cuisine.

What made you fall in love with food?
It’s such a universal language, and no matter your culture, your background, the color of your skin, everyone has to eat, and it brings people together. I have fond memories of family dinners and love and happiness.

What technical kitchen skill are you best at?
My general approach to food and pairing spices and ingredients that might not necessarily go together but create a composed dish.

What's your signature dish?
I don’t know if I have a signature dish because it depends on what’s available to me and what my mood is. I do have a couple dishes that are near and dear to my heart. I made a rabbit ragu with homemade pasta on a previous dish that was my ticket out to LA, so that’s a very special dish to me.

What do you say to people who think they can't learn how to cook?
You’re foolish. Everybody can learn how to cook. It can be daunting. I’m sure it can scary for a lot of people. It seems like a lot of steps and a whole crazy process. But start simple. Start making something you like: eggs, pancakes. Approachable.

Let's say it's a regular Tuesday night and you're at home. What's for dinner?
Breakfast for dinner, which I really love. I love a good sweet potato hash with a runny egg on top. That’s so homey.

Who's your food/chef spirit animal?
I like to take a couple things from a couple chefs. I love Rachael Ray — I’ve always loved her. I grew up watching her. I think Bobby Flay is so cool. He’s so confident with his swag. Giada is sweet and relatable. I love Anne Burrell, because I think she’s hilarious. And Ina because she’s classy. If I could combine all that …

What's something very few people know about you?
I have such a fear of heights.

Food pics in restaurants: yay or nay. Why?
Not really into it. Nowadays, I get it with social media. Everybody is attached to their phones all the time. When I go out for a nice dinner, which I don’t do often, to me it’s the whole experience. The minute I walk in the door, I want to be present. I like the atmosphere. I want to enjoy a glass of wine. I want to have a conversation. I’m so into that. As opposed to taking pictures and posting, I’d rather be in it with someone I care about that get a like.

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