Guess what? Food Network’s Tyler Florence is genuine, fun, and down-to-earth. You never know what you’ll find with these celeb chefs, who, admittedly, are very busy and often besieged by fans.
But after throwing out the first pitch at last night’s O’s game, the charming Tyler stopped by a VIP suite to hold court with several local bloggers—including Coconut and Lime and Taste of Baltimore—and me!
Flushed with heat or excitement, he shared his enthusiasm about throwing out the ball. It was his second time (the first was at a Dodgers game two weeks ago). “I threw better,” he said with his characteristic boyish grin.
He’s been making the round at ballparks to promote healthy eating with grapes in a promotion by the California Table Grape Commission. So it was no surprise that there was a big display of fresh grapes on a table and hot dogs with grape relish among other snacks. He really likes frozen grapes, he shared.
Before the game, Tyler and his crew stopped by Chaps pit beef restaurant on Pulaski Highway and were impressed by the beef sandwiches. None of the restaurant personnel recognized him, he said. Ironically, the group ate at a table near an autographed poster of Guy Fieri, another Food Network brethren, who did a segment on Chaps for his Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives show.
No time for Baltimore crabs, though. Tyler was on a whirlwind, less-than-24-hour tour and headed back to his home in northern California last night. Before he left, he patiently answered questions, while munching on grapes the whole time.
Here are some tidbits about his new wine label, a restaurant with rocker Sammy Hagar, and what he thinks of Anthony Bourdain:
Personal: The 39-year-old chef—who was born in South Carolina but lived most of his life in New York—is married with two children, ages three and one (his daughter will be two on Sunday). (He evidently has another child, but he didn't mention him.) “My wife is a saint,” he said when asked about how he handles being away from home for his many ventures. “She understands.”
New TV show: He’s host of The Great Food Truck Race, which starts Aug. 15. “It made sense,” he said. “The collapsed economy is the reason why food trucks are so big right now.”
On the Food Network: “I wouldn’t be anyone without those guys,” he said. “I really love what I do.”
On Anthony Bourdain’s disdain of the Food Network: “He can’t cook. … Les Halles [Bourdain’s former restaurant] is terrible.” (Ouch!)
New cookbook: “Family Meal: Bringing People Together Never Tasted Better” to be released Oct. 12. This book, with 250 recipes, will have about twice as many recipes as his other cookbooks. Tyler said he’s gotten better at compiling a cookbook. In the beginning, it would take him about 18 months. Now, he puts it together in about six weeks.
Wine: Yes, there will be Tyler Florence wine! He’s paired with Michael Mondavi to release four varietals soon.
Restaurants: Of course, he has restaurants. He opened three in the past year—Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco, Tyler Florence’s Rotisserie and Wine in Napa, CA, and El Paseo with partner/rocker Sammy Hagar in Mill Valley, CA.
Next food trend: “Pie will be the new cupcake,” he predicted.
I’m sure Rodney Henry of Dangerously Delicious Pies will be glad to hear that.