Jeff Mauro reveals why Kitchen Crash is Food Network genius

Photo of Host Jeff Mauro , as seen on Kitchen Crash, season 1. Photo provided by Food Network
Photo of Host Jeff Mauro , as seen on Kitchen Crash, season 1. Photo provided by Food Network /

Ahead of the Kitchen Crash debut, Jeff Mauro shares why this Food Network show is must watch food TV.

While he might be the Sandwich King, Jeff Mauro is ready to take on a new Food Network challenge. In the new Food Network show, Kitchen Crash, the culinary competition is part mystery box and part everyday home cook struggle. When professional chefs turn those home kitchen ingredients into a delicious meal, many home cooks will be inspired to make something delicious, too.

Premiering on January 6, the Kitchen Crash is an evolution of some of the popular Food Network competition shows. Part Chopped and part Supermarket Stakeout, the food competition heads to a neighborhood and asks local homeowners to turn over food from their refrigerators and pantries. Then, professional chefs are asked to transform those ingredients into a delicious, multi-course meal.

While not the typical neighborhood block party, the chefs battle for supremacy. From the outdoor kitchens, the chefs make it look easy. More importantly, it should inspire home cooks to stop saying, there’s nothing for dinner.

Ahead of the Kitchen Crash premiere, Jeff Mauro spoke to Cristine Struble of FoodSided about the new show and how home cooks will be inspired to get into their own kitchen.

Although many people have favorite Food Network shows, Mauro calls Kitchen Crash “a whole new ballgame.” That aspect adds to the excitement of this new format.

Mauro said, “No two home pantry or fridges are alike and the Kitchen Crash bins are as varied as the family’s taste buds, the season, the neighborhood or the day of the week. The strategy lies in the picking of the right home. It’s unwise to not waste time on an unanswered door (you only get 10 minutes to find a home and gather ingredients), so the chefs have really got to quickly case the neighborhood. Find a house with multiple cars in the driveway, a trampoline or swing set in the back. Where there’s a lot of kids, there’s a lot of food. Then they have to communicate. Cleary, from the doorway to the family, to gather everything they think they need. But they also can’t neglect the essentials, because there is ZERO SHARED PANTRY. No salt, sugar, oil. Nothing. It really is a difficult but fun and exhilarating game to play and most definitely watch!”

The elimination of the shared pantry looks to be a huge game changer for this Food Network competition. If a chef forgets the salt, that dish is going to suffer.

Still, Kitchen Crash has an element of strategy. Even though the home kitchen may not be the same as a restaurant kitchen, there could be many surprises in store.

Mauro said, “One of the most entertaining and special elements of Kitchen Crash is how each chef embraced the authentic, personal and home-made ingredients they found in their family’s fridges or pantries. From homemade pesto to imported Indian spices to backyard-grown Jersey tomatoes. I found the most successful chefs and dishes embraced their families’ cultures by imparting these authentic ingredients.”

Although Mauro would never reveal the secrets to the show, there is something intriguing about how the chefs adapt to the environment and the foods they use. Even though this competition is not a traditional “foraging” expedition, it does require some resourcefulness, creativity and editing.

Since the chefs have limited ingredients for the competition, Kitchen Crash shows how chefs channel their cooking creativity on the plate. It is time to step away from the 100 ingredient recipes.

Mauro said, “One of the pillars of being a great chef is to show restraint and not to just “pile it on the plate” because you can. Its also a necessary strategy in this game, because each chef’s singular bin needs to last them through potentially 3 rounds of cooking, so while it’s tempting to blow your whole bankroll on that first dish, its often times, is detrimental.”

While Food Network shows like Chopped bring up new mystery baskets for each round, Kitchen Crash works with the same ingredients throughout the culinary competition. In some ways, this idea is relatable to the home cook.

Mauro admitted, “We did see a lot of repeated proteins and produce, but the magic of the show lies within the creativity these chefs exhibit when being forced to only use a limited inventory stuffed into one large plastic bin. The variation of dishes by repurposing a singular ingredient was astounding, for real.”

In some ways, Kitchen Crash could be the cooking inspiration that home cooks need. Although some people might have fallen into cooking fatigue, this Food Network show could be the spark to get them back into the kitchen.

Mauro said, “The home cook will watch Kitchen Crash and I guarantee you, during the first commercial break, they will head straight to their fridge or pantry to check their own inventory. Then by the second commercial break, they will realize, I can do a lot more with what I got. Something we’ve all learned during these unique times, especially in the beginning. Use what you got, because you got a lot more than you think and you can do a lot with what you think is not a lot. Wow. That’s a tattoo.”

While I personally will not be tattooing that phrase on my arm, it is a good kitchen mantra. Of course, Mauro had some less permanent cooking advice for all the home cooks as well.

Mauro said, “I find that last-minute meal planning is best when your tummy is grumbling. Next, find whatever protein, veggie or grain/legume you are holding, then close your eyes and listen to whatever grumbling tummy is saying: “Italian….” “Sandwich” “Fried Rice…” then you look up a recipe online and whip it up. Way easier, quicker, healthier and cheaper than ordering out. When it doubt. Make a sandwich. Sandwiches scratch any itch.”

Of course, the Sandwich King would recommend making a sandwich. While I refrained from asking him to pick a side on the dreaded hot dog sandwich debate, I was curious to know what he would bring to a potluck.

Mauro said that his go to item is “my Mauro Provisions Prime Italian Beef Sandwich Kit & Giardiniera. It’s beefy, melt in your mouth, serves a whole bunch, holds well and cooks up in minutes.”

It is time to open the fridge and see how a handful of ingredients can be transformed into a delicious meal. Although your next dinner might not involve a professional chef crash or Jeff Mauro standing in your cul-de-sac, Kitchen Crash could be the inspiration for a tasty dinner.

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Kitchen Crash hosted by Jeff Mauro premieres on Food Network, January 6 at 10 p.m. ET. New episodes air each week.

Additionally, Jeff Mauro co-hosts The Kitchen, which airs on Food Network.