A revealing chat with chef Robert Irvine - East Valley Tribune: Performance

A revealing chat with chef Robert Irvine

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Judy A. Toth is the owner of Simply Impressive Cooking School in Mesa. Reach her at (480) 654-1981 or simplyimpressive.com

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2012 5:30 pm

If you have ever watched Food Network, you know Chef Robert Irvine. He has had several shows including “Restaurant Impossible” and “Dinner Impossible,” has been on “Worst Cooks in America,” “The Next Iron Chef” and appeared on “Iron Chef” several times.

But on Friday, Irvine will be at the Mesa Arts Center’s Ikeda Theater in a show that will be quite different from watching him on television: Everybody in the audience will get to participate.

From watching Irvine’s TV shows, I thought I knew him. But after talking to him and getting to know him offscreen, I was wrong. I got to know the real Robert Irvine.

On the Mesa show

“It’s going to be like no other live show they’ve been to,” Irvine said. “It’s a cooking show, but it’s very interactive. They get to see not only cooking, but personal stuff, up close and personal with (me).”

And since it is an interactive show, the audience will participate in some way, he said, and assured me that everybody attending would have a great time.

What he mentioned that was very intriguing was that there would be ropes, leg irons and handcuffs. He would not say any more about how they were going to fit into the show, so we will just have to wait to find out.

On his favorite endeavor

Here is where his answer totally surprised me. I expected him to pick one of his fabulous TV programs or restaurants. I also expected him to say that his favorite endeavors were ones that allowed him to win … win at anything. What I learned was quite different. The “win at any cost” person is just his on-camera persona. Instead, he said he enjoys helping people.

“My favorite thing to do is help people. I truly believe we are all blessed in different ways and my job, by the use of television, is to help people less fortunate than myself. I get a real amazing feeling from that,” he said.

He especially enjoys doing “Restaurant Impossible” because by the end of the show, he has changed not only the restaurant, but also the lives of the restaurant owner and family. He was very proud to say that of the 56 restaurants appearing on his show, 48 are doing great. Considering what he usually has to start with, that is a fantastic record.

On trying out for “Iron Chef” again

Irvine stated that he is not a fan of competition shows. The end result of these types of shows only feeds the ego, he said. Instead, he would rather do something that helps people.

“There is a lot more fun stuff to do on ‘Restaurant Impossible’ and other shows I’m working on,” he said.

Besides, with all he has going on, he is just too busy. It does not sound like we will be he hearing “Iron Chef Robert Irvine” any time in the near future.

On his perfect last meal

After watching Irvine on programs such as “Dinner Impossible” and “The Next Iron Chef,” I expected to hear that his favorite meal was something incredibly exotic. After all, nothing he ever creates on air is plain and simple. I was totally surprised when he said he would like his last meal to be roast chicken and mashed potatoes. I can understand, since roast chicken is on my list for the perfect last meal, too.

On what’s next

Irvine does not seem like a person that can sit still for too long. Besides doing “Restaurant Impossible,” there are some talks about possibly doing “Dinner Impossible” again. I hope so, since I absolutely loved that show. Nevertheless, these shows are not where his true love lies.

Irvine mentioned several times that what makes him tick is helping people — whether it is teaching kids and adults to eat healthier or educating people on fitness. “I’m not saying that you don’t have to eat a donut or big dessert now and again, but we need to be smart on how we educate our children,” he said.

However, in the typical Chef Irvine fashion, his next role will not be a new TV show. He mentioned that he is working on a project with food companies that will bring healthier food choices to us. He wants to help us live better lives by providing better eating and lifestyle choices.

And if you have ever seen Irvine, you know that he lives a healthy lifestyle. His toned physique and “guns” give me hope that whatever he makes available will make us look like him.

If you go

What: Robert Irvine, host of Food Network’s “Dinner: Impossible” and “Restaurant: Impossible,” puts on a high-energy, multimedia theatrical show that involves cooking demos, audience participation and the challenging nature of a TV show come to life.

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16

Where: Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St.

Cost: $45-$150

Information: (480) 644-6500 or MesaArtsCenter.com

• Judy A. Toth is the owner of Simply Impressive Cooking School. Reach her at (480) 654-1981 or www.SimplyImpressive.com

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