Interview with Adam Gertler

Interview with Adam Gertler

Adam Gertler, runner-up of the Next Food Network Star, stars in a new culinary adventure series Will Work For Food. Adam will put his life on the line to take viewers behind the scenes of some very unique food jobs. Watch Adam as he attempts to collect honey from 3 million bees, carve ice with a chain saw, dig a wine cave, harvest clams with a water canon, enter a competitive eating contest, and other fun and dangerous professions.

Interview with Adam Gertler

How did Will Work For Food come about?

ADAM: I got very lucky. The best way to say it is, in the final episode (Next Food Network Star) and the Food Network thought I would be a good match for a different kind of show that they had in mind. Will Work For Food is something totally different for the Food Network and I think they thought I was a different sort of guy. And there you go, I got offered this incredible gig. I think they basically thought for a show like this you want someone that can entertain an audience and be really passionate about working in food.

Every job I’ve had since I was fifteen years old has been in the food world. So like working at Dunkin Donuts to waiting tables at Bennigan’s to short order cook, camp cook….I just love food jobs. Most of the food jobs I’ve had have been your more typical food jobs. On Will Work For Food I do some really out there, unique food jobs.

This

is not the type of show that every day would be a routine for me. Traveling to a different part of the country all the time and I’m like showing up for the first day of work every time in a different location and there happens to be a camera crew there. And instead of talking to your best friend, you’re talking to a camera. I think it’s really awesome. I think people are really going to dig it. I would watch it.

Tell me about the show.

ADAM: I’m being trained as the ‘new guy’, so to speak. For example, in Okamoto Ice Carving Studio which is in Queens, you have a team of artists and their medium is ice. So I joined that team for a day. But it wasn’t like your typical first day, they throw you right into it between hauling a 400-pound block of ice to holding a chainsaw in my hand and trying to carve a work of

art. So, I’m really trying to do the jobs. I’m not hosting and watching someone else do it and commenting, “Ooh, that’s interesting.” I’m thrown into it and there are varying degrees of success. Some are very difficult jobs, just arduous, a lot of labor. Some are highly skilled such as making works of art out of ice. Some are just a lot of work like working on a pheasant farm; which is a lot of hauling, using power equipment. I got to drive a tractor in Wisconsin. Which if you have never done I recommend doing. It was pretty cool.

At times, it’s kicked my butt. They treat me like a new employee and we try to not let anyone go too easy on me. It’s like you need this job done, let’s get it done. You begin to see how difficult these jobs are that we take for granted. And you also get to see the skill that the experts have in the jobs themselves. So while I might not be a master pizza tosser, when you get to watch a master pizza tosser juggling pizza over his shoulder you still get to see that…and,

wow, that’s not just something I can pick up and do.

What was your favorite ‘job’ to do?

ADAM: It’s really, really hard to pick a favorite because after every one I would say that was my favorite. One of my favorite kinds of food is real barbecue and we did a segment where I got to work in a BBQ pit in Texas, Louie Mueller’s Barbeque. It was a huge thrill for me as a fan.

Also, the goat cheese farm in New York. I had to milk like 80 thousand goats and

pasteurize the milk and make this cheese. They make this cheese called Kunik which is this aged, mold-rinded cheese. I’ve had that kind of cheese before but I’d never seen the process. The milking and pasteurization and applying the mold. That kind of blew my mind. You go to a cheese store and you just don’t think about that. It’s sort of in line with the mentality people are starting to have about food…the slow food movement, keep things local, the grasping of where ingredients come from. Everything on Will Work For Food speaks to that.

And some segments are just fun. I try my hand at competitive eating. It’s harder than it looks.

Was there anything you absolutely hated doing?

ADAM: Going on an oyster boat. I love oysters but this was probably the hardest job that I did. I worked on an oyster boat in Louisiana. I say a job is hard but I’m doing the job for a day or two so it’s fun. But when I was working on that oyster boat I was like please, please get me off this crazy thing. It was rainy, it was freezing, my fingers were

bleeding. We were hauling 115 pound bags of oysters on a boat with no railings that was rocking back and forth. It was a tough job.

Were you ever injured during an episode?

ADAM: I never had any really serious injuries, just your typical burns and cuts. No worse than working in a kitchen. You would be surprised what jobs are a little more hazardous. Like foraging for truffles. You’re out in the rain in Oregon, in the mud and the slick. Sometimes things can get kind of tough hunting for a little fungus.

Can we expect to see the humor you showed on the Next Food Network Star or will you be more serious?

ADAM: I wouldn’t say this is more serious. I think it’s just naturally going to come out. It’s me doing these jobs and that’s just part of my personality. I can’t disguise that. I’m not going to be Sam Donaldson. Humor is how you deal with difficulty sometimes. And it’s a good way to approach and meet people. So, humor will pervade the whole thing in some respect.

Do you still want to do a cooking show or do you prefer this?

ADAM: I love this kind of thing. I would do this forever…there are so many (food) jobs out there. I still love cooking, so I would certainly do a cooking show as well. My brothers and I cater to parties for people, almost for fun, just because we love it. And when you get into the kind of BBQ that we do, it’s no fun unless you’re doing it for a lot of people. So, we’ve got like smokers and stuff. We’re still doing it. I would like to do another show. It’s great fun. It’s what guys like to do. Gather around an open fire and cook for a long time.

And what I’ve learned on Will Work For Food has invaded all my cooking. Like I learned about abalone and now I cook with abalone. Same thing with the oyster boat. For New Year’s Eve I was brewing up hundreds of Gulf oysters for people. This show has been an education for me.

You’re living out in California now?

ADAM: I’m living in California right now but I’m still working on the show. Once we’re done on the post rounding of the show I’m not sure exactly where I’m going. I’m kind of up in the air. I’m just enjoying having to be in California right now. It’s rough.

How is the food different there from back home on the East Coast?

ADAM: Well I pretty much as a rule in California

avoid pizza, bagels…deli for the most part. I enjoy incredible sushi. They use really exotic ingredients in sushi that’s very, very fresh. The Mexican food here is slamming…awesome Mexican food. And the whole California thing, everything has avocado on it. Burgers have avocado. It’s strange, California cuisine is at the same time lighter but I’ve never seen more fast food places anywhere else in the world. I don’t eat fast food, except In-n-Out Burger. It’s the exception to the rule. That’s awesome stuff.

I love going wherever I am and just eating the food at that place. So it was great with Will Work For Food because that was sort of my job. So I got to have geoduck, those giant clams. I not only got to farm these clams but I got to go to this restaurant with an amazing Vietnamese chef and learn three different preparations for geoduck that I’ve never had. That sort of thing thrills me more than anything else.

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