Bill Rancic returns to E! tonight with wife, Giuliana and baby Duke for the premiere of the new season of their reality show Giuliana and Bill. Flip a few channels this coming Monday, April 7th and see him host Food Network’s newest cooking competition, Kitchen Casino.
As the first-ever winner of The Apprentice, Rancic is no stranger to reality television, especially when combined with a stage set for healthy competition. Ever since Emeril Lagasse first shouted “Bam!” in the kitchen, audiences spanning all ages, incomes, and interests began tuning into Food Network. Since then, there has been monumental growth of the network from cooking shows with celebrity chefs to introducing new cooking stars to seeing competitors of all culinary levels seeing their dreams come true.
The concept of Kitchen Casino doesn’t follow the typical competition show formula. With his baby boy babbling in the background just waking up from a nap, Rancic made time for a phone interview to answer a few questions regarding why viewers should tune into the show, his take on cooking, and what restaurants are a must have when visiting Chicago.
Courtney Hartmann: What drew you to this particular opportunity (with Food Network)?
Bill Rancic: I love cooking. I’m in the restaurant business. (Rancic co-owns RPM Italian with wife, Giuliana and their newest restaurant, RPM Steak, opens in Chicago at the end of April). I’m hooked on food competition shows. It’s unique, different…I definitely understand the importance of strategy.
CH: What do you think the allure is of “food competition” shows?
BR: It’s the combination of competition with the fact you can actually learn things. It’s remarkable how you can have all the same ingredients, but each person will take those and make a different dish. Plus, everyone loves food. Each episode has people who are both classically trained and those who are self-taught cooks. There’s always a pull for the underdog.
CH: The premise of the show is unique, but what else do you feel will set this show apart?
BR: Let me give you a challenge example. Chef Roulette is one of the challenges and we’ve built an entire kitchen that spins like a roulette. No one know where it’s going to stop. Someone might end up with a different dish than they started with. Every episode is three rounds and then a winner at the end, at the end of the hour each person is a winner, but could go home because they bet it all and lost.
Each episode has three rounds. The Kitchen Casino Slot Machine features three categories: cuisine, ingredient and theme, which the chefs then have 30 minutes to complete a dish inspired by what’s set before them. In the second round, remaining contestants have 40 minutes to complete a dish using the same protein as before, but this is where the roulette wheel comes into play. The chefs are are left in front of a new station to finish cooking. In the last round, the final two contestants participate in Chef Poker to include an ingredient into their dish based on the card they are dealt. They have a choice to play what they’re dealt or gamble.
CH: What are some of your favorite Food Network shows/personalities?
BR: Chopped. Also, love watching Robert Irvine and how he turns those situations around (in Restaurant: Impossible). Cutthroat Kitchen is great too to see the different mechanisms and difficulties.
CH: Would you ever consider doing your own food show?
BR: Absolutely. I competed in a test round of Kitchen Casino. I feel like it’s good to know what the competitors are going through.
CH: Are you a good cook? What’s your best dish?
BR: Yes. I do all cooking. I have a lot more to learn though. Things are always changing. I cook a lot of Italian food. Bucatini Pomodoro is my best, it’s a fat spaghetti with tomato, olive oil and reminds me of getting married in Italy.
CH: I’ll be in Chicago next month. In addition to your restaurant, which other Chicago eateries do you recommend?
BR: Bub City for BBQ, definitely and Paris Club. You have to go to Giordano’s, of course. (When asked if he’s been to Stephanie Izard’s restaurant Girl & The Goat, he said that he hasn’t been able to get a reservation, they’re always booked. “She’s killing it right now, though,” he said.)
In addition to his appearance on television and entrepreneurial endeavors, Rancic is a New York Times best-selling author of the book You’re Hired: How to Succeed in Business and Beyond the Lemonade Stand.
Kitchen Casino premieres on Food Network Monday, April 7th.