(Banner image © Official U.S. Navy Imagery)
It took us a long time to catch up with Chef Amadeus. Between his work as a traveling chef, an entrepreneur selling salt-free spices, radio show host, volunteer work and now winner of Extreme Chef “Mexican Showdown,” Amadeus is one busy man.
Despite his many successes and emerging fame, however, Amadeus remains refreshingly human and, well, nice. On Addicted ChefV2’s summary of the final episode of Extreme Chef, the other two finalists were seen as egotistical and grasping–Chef Amadeus remained calm and focused. Can a chef be talented and Food Network title-worthy without being a jerk? You be the judge.
Toque: Describe your work as a traveling chef.
CA: My work is the greatest thing that I could have ever imagined. I get to travel, cook and golf (I love to golf). While on the road I get to work with some of the most talented chefs and cooks in the country. I promote my salt-free line of spices, run my radio show, and get to leave my culinary footprints for other up and coming chefs.
When I visit different cities I do try to give back to that community. Doing volunteering work is very humbling to me. I do believe that my culinary steps have been ordered by the Almighty. That is the number one reason that I love what I do. I get to share this passion that I have with folks. I came from very humble beginnings so I never take anything for granted.
Toque: Which cities have you visited recently?
CA: Seattle, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Orlando, Savannah and St Augustine.
Toque: Tell about how you approach new assignments,
CA: My approach to each city is starts with my radio show. In Southern Passion Lounge I interview chefs from all over the country. This helps me connect with chefs from different cities. I do lots of research on the city and the type of restaurants, festivals and native food it has. I also like to get involved with the local nonprofits and do speaking engagements at the local culinary schools.
Toque: How do you find the “flavor” of that community?
CA: I like to get to a city a day or so before my event just to hook up with local chefs, visit the markets, try some of the local foods.
Toque: What have been your triumphs?
CA: Having a salt-free line of spices; winning Food Network’s Extreme Chef “Mexican showdown;” reaching the one-year anniversary for my radio show; being an inspiration to the younger cooks; being a board member with Culinary Wonders USA.
Toque: How about biggest goofups?
CA: I always tell my cooks it is okay to make mistakes.
Toque: How did you get selected for the Extreme Chef show?
CA: The Food Network contacted me through Facebook. I had to do several Skype interviews. They asked me what makes me an extreme chef and I said due to the fact that I have cooked in just about every type of restaurant, from hotels to fast food. I have taught outdoor cooking techniques and I have built igloos and cooked on Mt. Rainier. I just have a deep passion to be creative in the kitchen–any kitchen.
Toque: Is reality TV harder than real-life cheffing or the other way around?
CA: Reality TV is actually a lot like real life. On my show I was only on the show for a short time. I did not have to live with anyone. So all I had to do was enjoy the experience.
Toque: What did you learn from being part of Extreme Chef?
CA: I learned that passion trumps egos. Both of the chefs that I competed against pretty much wrote me off. But in the end my passion to be as creative as I could brought me the title…and the $10,000.
Toque: What did you think of Mexico and the Mexican people?
CA: They are great they have amazing spices!
Toque: What are some of your specialties that your clients ask for over and over again?
CA: Stuffed strawberries with a cheesecake filling; world famous “bubba sticks”; and chocolate bites with whiskey glaze
Toque: What chefs, cooks and cuisines are you most influenced by?
CA: My mom and grandmother; Chef Morimoto, Chef Joe Randall, Anthony Vanhecker, chef Martyn Carre, the chefs at Culinary Wonders USA. Favorite cuisines are Puerto Rican, Island, Southern and Asian
Toque: What is the greatest compliment you’ve ever received?
CA: There have been a few. I found out that I do make some of the best mac and cheese. Not by winning an award but by a very young kid. When his dad asked him how he liked the mac and cheese he gave me two thumbs up.
When cooks and culinary students come up to me and say that the appreciate me taking time to speak with them or that they were inspired by me.
Toque: What is hardest for you about being a chef?
CA: You never stop learning and you’re always cooking. They’re also the best things.