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Tom Pizzica Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Tom Pizzica

In Outrageous Food, "Big Chef" Tom Pizzica, season six finalist from Food Network Star, is on a quest to unearth the most jaw-dropping, eye-popping, occasionally heart-stopping foods in the country - dishes that give "outrageous" a whole new meaning. From the oversized (60-inch pizzas carried by crane to the table) and absurdly spicy ("Ninja" sushi rolls made with fresh habaneros, cayenne peppers and wasabi oil) to the ridiculously pricey (the $175 burger made with Kobe beef, black truffles and foie gras) and the blatantly bizarre (corn-on-the-cob flavored ice cream), Tom learns the secrets of these out-of-this-world eats from the chefs at all the locales. Years of experience working in kitchens coupled with his every-guy likeability, sharp wit, and appetite for bold food, Tom Pizzica takes Outrageous Food to new heights.

I had a chance to speak with Tom Pizzica about his new television show. The original concept for the show came about because Food Network and Page Productions had it in the works for a while. They approached him because they thought his whole "Big Chef" personality would fit into the concept and they approached him about it. He tested for it and one thing led to another, with the a sneak preview of the show airing on October 31, 2010. As for how the series compares to the Outrageous Food special done by Aaron McCargo, Tom says it will be exactly the same thing but "with a different host."

When asked if he would be cooking anything on the show or just trying other people's creations, Tom explained that this is a cooking show. He not only tries these outrageous foods, but he cooks them as well. The first episode of the series involves a 105 pound hamburger, so that should be quite a challenge to recreate. As for outrageous foods he has made outside the show, Tom explains that while it is not really outrageous, he did have an unusual food experience one. He and his brother were hunting wild turkey and his brother shot one. They had to figure out how to take off the feathers and clean it, and then they decided to deep fry it in a huge pan of grease. In the end it was inedible except a piece or two, with the buckshot and everything. Tom says, "You think all turkeys are like butterballs, but really they're not."

When you consider this is a show about outrageous foods, you can't help but wonder if there was anything Tom initially thought he'd hate to try that he ended up liking. He says not really, that everything was good because the people making it are so into it and the show is about outrageous foods, not gross ones. He was a little intimidated by an entire beef tongue, just sitting there on a plate in a deli, but only because the whole thing was just sitting there.

I also spoke to Tom about the "Bacon Steak" incident on Food Network Star and whether he has attempted it since. He told me that thing about the bacon steak is that he really wanted to make it, but he knew he'd need a pressure cooker. He didn't think the show had one, so he put it in the oven on low. In the end it was so bad it became famous as the worst thing on the show. Afterward it was pointed out that there had been a pressure cooker on the set, but at that point it was too late, People still remember him for that. I have made it since with the pressure cooker and it is great.

I asked Tom if there was anything he'd like to say to his fans, and he said to all of you thanks for your support on Food Network Star and with the new show. He hope to be around a long time and with your support he can.

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