Chef Ryan Scott, former contestant on season 4 of Top Chef and currently the host of Food Rush on The Live Well Network, generously took some time this past Sunday to chat with Foodbeast. Food Rush is a half-hour segment that takes viewers on a food adventure every episode. Ryan travels across the country into many different kitchens and shows America there’s really no single way to cook.
What does food mean to you?
Ah, the universal question. It’s a lot of different things. I was born and raised into food. My parents had a restaurant when I was a young kid. Food has a different feeling to me, because it was a way of life for us. It was the way we paid our bills. Going to the restaurant after school and helping my parents cook and doing my homework behind the counter of the restaurant was normal when other kids go home and watch cartoons.
Food to me is love, family and an expression that not too many people can actually do.
What would your cooking style fall under?
My cooking style is definitely Americano with a twist. The classics are classics for a reason. You don’t want to mess with them too much. Putting your own spin and twist on them is a good thing though. I’m the kind of person that will take ribs and dock them up in a different way. I always make sure you want to eat my food every single day of the week instead of once a year.
Did you have any major culinary influences growing up?
Definitely influenced by TV when I was at a young age. Martin Yan, of Yan Can Cook, was a big instrumental part of making me want to jump in the kitchen. Graham Kerr was really big for me too. I was watching Great Chefs of America on USA Channel.
What sets Food Rush apart from all the other cooking shows out there?
We take it to the norm and we take you an adventure at the same time. It took four pilots until I was happy with shooting the show to where we exemplified who I am as a person and also my style of food. We’re cooking for everybody and I think that’s really important. We travelled the world and we traveled the United States. We’re going to Taiwan this year. We’re going to Hawaii this year.
Everything that I see, taste and feel (even if it’s not shot) is a part of the show somehow.
We just take people on a half an hour journey. It kinda reminds me of the shows when I was a kid. You can’t believe how quick a half an hour goes and you’re really sad when it’s over. I really feel that we’ve done a good job. And I have a really amazing crew. They’re amazing and they let me be me and I think that’s really important.
At the end of the day we have a roundtable for episodes. There’s never lines of “Ryan, this is what we want you to say.”
We either put ourselves in scenarios or they easily just happen. But there’s no script. The show, I believe, wouldn’t be as successful if it was scripted. We don’t do that. We just have a really good time. It goes by really quick.
What so far has been your favorite episodes of Food Rush?
Wow. That’s like asking who your favorite daughter or son is.
There was one with my mom. I don’t get to see my mom a lot and we actually baked a cake together. We did my version of my mom’s cake. That was great because these days, I don’t ever get to see her any more so we got to spend two or three hours on the set which was nice.
There was the pizza episode which I brought pizza to a whole new level. We showed pizza being done in a freight-liner truck with a 900-degree Italian oven that was imported.
Can you talk about the difference between being a contestant on Top Chef and being the host of Food Rush?
In no way they’re similar. Being on Top Chef, it was a competition. Literally, you’re fighting behind the lines with 15 other people. You’re fighting to stay on the show every single day. With Food Rush, I’m a host. I’m a guest in your house. I take all the TV experience since Top Chef and bring that home.
Vastly different which is nice. This is not a reality cooking show. This is a real fun show.
Do you have a defining moment for you in your career as a chef?
I had a restaurant a few years ago called Mission Beach Cafe. My mom brought in my grandmother, who just passed away, my Nana. I had the whole menu and everything and my mom said, “You know Nana not gonna want to eat off the menu right?”
I asked my mom what my Nana wanted and she said: creamed corn, mashed potatoes and fried chicken.
The defining moment in my culinary career life is having people like my 92-year-old grandmother kiss me at the end of this meal and say that this was the best fried chicken and mashed potatoes they’ve ever had in their whole life. You can tell it wasn’t like how I was her grandson, but it was like wow I really made a moment in her life. Coming from a woman that’s 92, pretty much sets the standard for a moment in my life that was really amazing.
Any advice for all the Foodbeasts out there?
Be adventourus. A lot of what I try to do on Food Rush is introduce you to a product that you didn’t quite know or are afraid of. If you softly introduce a different ingredient into your food every once in a while, you’d be surprised by the end of the year how adventurous you would be.
There’s a lot of great food out there and if you’re stuck in that mindset of “I eat X, Y and Z. That’s it.” Then you’re missing a lot of this beautiful world. There’s really a lot of great food out there.
Introduce yourself to as much as you possibly can. Get that one ingredient in the store that you never knew how to cook. Google it and cook it and try something new. It never hurts.
Food Rush airs Sundays at 8p ET/PT on the Live Well Network. All episodes are available online at Live Well Network after they air.
Photo Credit Live Well Network