A: We’ve known each other in excess of 20 years and we’ve been in each other’s restaurants many times. But the show actually started five years ago in 2016. So it’s that kind of natural sort of connect, I think, from the kitchen to the restaurant to the banter and then, of course, to the journey, the exploring on that incredible landscape in the RV and spending some time that we don’t even get to spend with our families sometimes. …
I think what the show shows is the bond in terms of how important it is to travel, and if there’s ever a chance now to sort of get in that RV and go drive across America into some of the remote places, it’s the perfect time. So we couldn’t have asked for a better unity. But I was just keen, having spent the last 16 years in the states, to show these guys some of the best things that I’ve ever experienced, from the best barbecue to one of the most competitive cities in Vegas. Everyone thinks in America, it’s all about Europe – Spain, France and Italy. But it’s not. It lies within the 50 states. Incredible.
Q: As culinary professionals, what lessons did you learn?
A: What it made us was all self-sufficient in a way that we didn’t have an infrastructure (and) it made us fall back in love with the grassroots of what this is about. So it was quite a humbling experience in a way that we were sort of catching fish, fileting them, setting up the barbecue, picking up vegetables as we go and it made us a little bit more earnest because it was like back to the shop floor.
Q: For Season 19 of “Hell’s Kitchen,” you’re going to Las Vegas. What makes it the culinary destination it has become?
A: … What makes it super special is the way it’s evolving. You know, everyone thought it was just this sort of party town and the gambling. But honestly, when you see the plethora of talent there and the amount of chefs that are vying trying to get into Vegas, it is one of the most competitive and difficult cities to crack. So if (the food) is not on point, (diners) will let you know instantly and it’s now one of the most sought-after places to be. So it makes you tough, it makes you resilient and it really does keep you on that knife edge. That’s how good it is and long may that continue.
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.