Chefs vie for a career-making job on ‘Vegas Chef Prizefight’

‘Vegas Chef Prizefight’ – A knockout competition

Anne Burrell

Imagine cooking for hungry Las Vegas diners ready to pay top dollar for your first-class creations, all in front of TV cameras and lights. Those are the challenges and pressure faced by contestants on Food Network’s latest competition series “Vegas Chef Prizefight.”

Premiering Thursday, March 5, the six-episode series tasks eight elite chefs of disparate backgrounds and culinary viewpoints with arguably the toughest job interview they’ll ever face, doing dinner service at different restaurants in the Caesars Entertainment realm to prove they have the talent, leadership and determination to run a high-profile restaurant in Las Vegas, one of the world’s greatest foodie cities.

The winner – as determined by host Anne Burrell, chef Scott Conant, Caesars Entertainment executive Eileen Moore and rotating guest judges – lands a job as head chef at the newly created $10 million restaurant at the Flamingo on the famed Strip.

“This is a dream job for somebody,” Burrell explains, “I mean, a brand new restaurant, you get to be a part of it from the beginning. … I don’t know but I think (this is) one of the biggest stakes that Food Network has ever put on a show like this.”

“They’re going to be really involved in making the menu,” she continues, “and they will have some input on what the design of the restaurant looks like. I mean, they are really in it. It’s a big job.”

And to do a job like this means having a diverse skill-set. In addition to being a talented chef and expert handler of pressure, the successful candidate needs to be good teacher, a good listener and a good cheerleader. They also need to know when to deliver a pat on the back or kick in the backside when needed, just as any good manager does.

To demonstrate that, they’ll do live dinner service at such varied Sin City eateries as Mr. Chow, BLT Steak at Bally’s, El Burro Borracho at Rio and Giada at The Cromwell. In each instance, Burrell says diners were well aware they were part of a Food Network production.

And while Burrell was reluctant to give hints on challenges or the outcome, she does allow that nerves did play a part at first but dropped away as the competition progressed.

“It was really nice to see, after we got a couple of weeks into the process, people really start to be comfortable and showing us what they can do as cooks,” she says. “You know, once you get past all the nerves, once you peel all of the noise away around the whole process and people really settle in and put their heads down, it got really exciting.”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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