Zap2it: As you and movie director Frank Coraci — your longtime friend — go to various locales for “Chow Masters,” do you find the comfort-food-making competitors take it seriously?
Chef Sammy DeMarco: We’ve had grown men cry. It’s very intense. There’s a whole day when they’re in the kitchen with the cameras, making the food before we meet them, then we go to their restaurants and try their food.
We focus on traveling around America to all these places, but really, the food is the star. People ask me, “Did you ever have something you didn’t like?” but I think it’s really a matter of preference. Something can’t be creative unless it tastes good to begin with. In the end, my big point is whether it was cooked properly, but Frank will bring in more of the general public’s point of view. And that’s really cool.
Zap2it: Have you found recipes on the “Chow Masters” path that you’ve wanted to use in your restaurants?
Chef Sammy DeMarco: For sure. I’ve always said the most important thing about food is understanding the foundation and origins of where things come from. You can’t really start playing with things and fusing them until you know that, but I’ve traveled around the world so much, I hadn’t spent enough time in America!
There’s some amazing food and great culture going on here, and these cities made a great impact on me with the different flavors. I would say that I left each city with my interpretation of what I would have done.
“Chow Masters” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Travel Channel.