Any cooking show where the grand prize is a giant golden Spork and $1,000 has a sense of humor. Clearly these contestants are not vying for the James Beard Foundation Award.
MTV’s latest, “Snack-Off’ premiering Thursday, July 10, features untrained cooks using ingredients that include jellybeans and waffles. Essentially, these are dishes that would satisfy most college students with the munchies.
It’s not serious food, yet one of the chefs, Jason Quinn, is quite serious about food.
“The one issue about doing the show for me is I am in this tradition, my ideal scenario is to be a chef, who makes great food and uses ultra premium ingredients,” Quinn tells Zap2it. “What I am worried about with the show is, will I be labeled as a junk food chef?”
He’s a self-trained chef and chats while buying lobsters at an Asian market for his Santa Ana restaurant, Playground.
“It is one of those things I can buy through my distributor for $12 a pound, or go to an Asian market for $6.99,” he says.
“Snack-Off” is the worst cooking show ever made, but the most hilarious cooking show ever made,” Quinn says. “As far as being about food, it is terrible. But it is a parody. [Host] Eddie Huang pulled me aside to say, ‘This isn’t ‘Iron Chef,’ it is a parody.'”
Some of the contestants worked in his kitchen, and Quinn was open to letting them because he got his start by working in kitchen. Quinn worked as a server and in restaurants where he hated the food. Then a friend asked Quinn to start a food truck, and a restaurateur was born.
“I definitely cooked some bad food,” he says. “I remember very early on in the truck watching a guy smelling it and throwing it in trash and not even tasting it,” Quinn says. “It was inspiration to get better.”
While he’s mastered intricate dishes, he describes some of the weirder combos on “Snack-Off.”
“It was blasphemy,” Quinn says. “It might as well been Jason’s internal turmoil because none of these foods I wanted to eat at all.”
The grossest dish he tasted? “There was a cupcake full of ground beef and topped with inner goodness of a Twinkie, that gross stuff in the center, and cotton candy on it,” he says.
What’s always in your refrigerator at home?
“My wife and I live at the restaurant. We just sleep at the house. When we get off work, and have been cooking for 12 hours, we go out.”
What’s the first dish you cooked?
“Brie and blue cheese quesadilla with a pear and brown sugar compote.”
What do you hate to cook?
“If you come in say can I just have an egg white omelet, I am going to say, ‘No f***ing way.'”
What do you love to cook?
“Bellota pork from Spain.”