What It's Really Like To Be A Contestant On Beat Bobby Flay

Food Network broadcasts a variety of competition shows. Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli hosts "Supermarket Stakeout," a show where competing chefs have to cook up their best dishes in a grocery store parking lot, primarily using groceries purchased from random strangers exiting the store. Seasonal shows, like "Holiday Baking Championship" and "Spring Baking Championship" showcase extravagant baked goods, beginning with a team of bakers and slowly eliminating contestants down to the finale.

Some shows feature chefs competing against each other for the winning title, and these are often judged by Food Network celebrities. However, others, like "Beat Bobby Flay," allow contestants to actually compete against well-known chefs. If you've ever wondered what it's like to compete on a Food Network competition show, former contestants might be able to offer up some insight. Chef Cam Waron told The Takeout all about his experience on "Beat Bobby Flay," when he competed in Season 31, Episode 5 ("Bobby's Besties"). 

One chef discussed his experience

If you assumed that the process for appearing as a chef on Food Network's "Beat Bobby Flay" is highly selective, you would be right. Chef Cam Waron said that after he filled out the application, he had to undergo two separate Zoom interviews (via The Takeout). On the one hand, Waron could likely breathe a slight sigh of relief after he received the email confirming that he had been chosen to compete on the show, but in another way, the endeavor had only just begun.

According to Waron, Food Network flew him to New York and arranged his hotel stay for the day he spent on the set. After arriving on the set, he and the contestants were given some time in the kitchen to become oriented to the environment. Contestants were allowed a few minutes to come up with a dish after being given the "secret ingredient," but once the 20-minute timer started, Waron was on a strict time limit. Waron went head-to-head with chef Quincy Randolph for the first round.

Interestingly, this part of the show wasn't the only thing that was strictly monitored. Waron said that everything from the ingredients to the judges was kept a secret until the very last second. The secret ingredient that both competitors had to integrate into the first round was pancetta: a salt-cured meat made from pork belly. Randolph's dish surpassed Waron's, and Randolph went on to make chicken and waffles, ultimately losing to Flay.

Although Waron did not win, he said that he had a great experience overall. He enjoyed interacting with the production staff, got a free trip to New York, and had a unique experience by stepping outside of his comfort zone.

Waron's work outside the show

So, what does Chef Cam Waron do when he's not battling Bobby Flay on television? The Takeout reports that he works as the culinary director of Chicago's Honey Butter Fried Chicken, a counter service restaurant specializing in exactly what it's named for. (For those following a plant-based diet, don't worry — the menu has an entire vegetarian-friendly section, as well as a vegan kale and cabbage slaw).

Waron is also the owner of Tubers Donuts, a Chicago donut shop that serves old-fashioned potato donuts. For those who might not live in the area, but are curious about the donuts, you might enjoy taking a look at the donut shop's creations over on its Instagram page. It serves up flavors like hot cocoa, Raz-biscus (raspberry and hibiscus), and Coquito con Ron (coconut, rum, and cinnamon). The donuts are sold at TriBecca's Sandwich Shop.

Think you have what it takes to go head-to-head with Bobby Flay himself? Interested chefs can apply through JS Casting by answering a few questions regarding culinary history, work experience, awards, and of course, what their signature dish is.