Meet the MasterChef USA Host:
Your first impression on watching Gary Rhodes as he hosts MasterChef, is, "what's with his hair?" Sticking straight up from the top of his head it gives one the distinct impression of a 1970's punk-rocker.
But then you notice his intensity about food.
"My mission in life is to make British cooking among the best, if not the best, that can be found anywhere in the world," explains Gary. "I'm looking at British classics and trying to put them on a new plane, with more refinement and more exact flavors. I hope that among my recipes we'll find a new 'classic', a dish that will be cooked and talked about for years to come."
Certainly Gary's food has had almost all the British food critics "talking" over the past ten years. His "modern take" on British classics has garnered two Michelin stars - one at the Castle Hotel in Tanton, Somerset, and another at The Greenhouse. He has also received the prestigious CATEY Special Award, the catering industry's equivalent to the Oscars, for helping to revive British cookery and for his total dedication to the industry. He is currently the proud owner of a new restaurant, city rhodes, just off London's Fleet Street.
But in Britain, Gary's fame to "the average bloke" on the street comes from hosting five, very popular, television series, including a cooking series for children based on Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes. Some of his best British television work, driving the roads of Britain in his favorite Ferrari sports car, can be seen on the American PBS series, Great Food. Spontaneous, charming and always enthusiastic about his food, Gary caught the eye of Executive Producer, Elizabeth Brock, who asked him to join the MasterChef USA crew.
"Gary is so alive on camera," points out Brock. "And he also has the unique ability to combine true expertise on cooking with his gift of communicating in an entertaining style."
Without a doubt, Gary's performance was one of the reasons why MasterChef USA became the most carried cooking series on PBS in the year 2000, beating out cooking show veterans like Julia Child and Jacques Pepin.
Look for Gary as host of a series of MasterChef Live events, that will bring the best about amateur cooking to cities across America. And don't miss the second season of MasterChef USA, coming to PBS stations in April 2001.
Oh, and does Gary have plans to change his hairstyle anytime soon?
"Absolutely not, " says Gary. "One day in the 70's, I did my hair that way, and it felt so right, I never changed it. It's just fits me to a tee."
Ever wonder what kind of food Gary Rhodes serves in his British restaurants? Here's what the New York Times had to say about Gary Rhodes and his newest establishment, Rhodes in the Square..
Excerpted from the New York Times,
Wednesday, August 4, 1999
"Britain's Spirited Young Masters"
by William Grimes
In a country synonymous with eccentricity, nothing could be more eccentric than Britain's food culture. Notoriously indifferent to good food, the English nevertheless feast on some of the best television cooking shows anywhere in the world. Traditionally resistant to eating out, they lavish love and attention on their favorite chefs, who rise to a prominence that Emeril Lagasse can only envy. When Delia Smith made omelets on her television show a few months ago, egg sales in Britain rose by the millions. …
Perhaps most surprisingly, London is now one of the world's really exciting restaurant cities. And it is largely on the strength of its home-grown chefs, many of them dedicated to reworking and reinventing a native culinary vocabulary that many people had given up for dead, or worse, treated as a joke.
Gary Rhodes, another New British Chef, is a familiar face to British television viewers, the punkish-looking free spirit who whizzes around on series like "Rhodes Around Britain," rummaging through the country's culinary heritage and offering twisty reinterpretations. After earning a Michelin star at the Castle Hotel in Taunton, and another at the Greenhouse in London, he opened City Rhodes, near Fleet Street, which Michelin awarded a star last year.
Mr. Rhodes's newest London restaurant, Rhodes in the Square, opened in May 1998 in a 1930's luxury apartment complex on Dolphin Square in Pimlico. The room looks like a cross between a planetarium and the best dining room on a cruise ship. The banquettes are midnight blue, tiny ceiling lights twinkle overhead, and chrome railings add a swooshy moderne touch. Rhodes in the Square is a lounge without a lounge singer.
Mr. Rhodes is ingenious at Anglicizing his dishes in unexpected ways, dropping black-pudding ravioli into an onion and lemon-thyme soup, for example, or glazing a haddock fillet with welsh rarebit. One main course stopped me in my tracks, a snowy white fillet of plaice, roasted in a butter sauce and sprinkled with tiny Scottish shrimp still in the shell. Like little cracklings, they added a burst of rich shrimp flavor to each bite.
Mr. Rhodes loves old-fashioned English desserts, especially puddings and sponge cakes. His signature bread and butter pudding is proof that stale bread ranks as one of the world's great ingredients.