Omar Ashley found connection, challenges, and an unforgettable experience on Ciao House

Contestant Omar Ashley in the kitchen for the first time, as seen on Ciao House Season 1
Contestant Omar Ashley in the kitchen for the first time, as seen on Ciao House Season 1 /

When Ciao House debuted on Food Network, the show was touted as more than just another culinary competition. The stunning Italian locale might have been a chef’s dream come true, but the pressures of the competition were far greater than anyone could have imagined. For Omar Ashley, the experience was full of firsts, but the connections made lasted far longer than just his time in the villa.

Although all the chefs on Ciao House have a great culinary knowledge and experience, Omar Ashley was introduced to the Food Network audience with a very simple premise, showing everyone that anything is possible. While he is a sous chef at a well-known New York City hotel, it is more than just the current job that makes a chef who he is.

During a recent conversation with FoodSided, Omar Ashley shared his thoughts on the experience, what he sought to learn about Italian food and culture, and some of his favorite dishes. Even though everyone will have to watch the entire Ciao House series to see the final outcome, Omar has a bright future ahead of him.

Omar believes that “I feel like hard work and perseverance pays off when you put the work behind it. It also allows you to pay greater attention to detail, in turn allowing your hard work to shine through your talent.” While that sentiment is real, it is hard to put in that work.

Omar Ashley on Ciao House Food Network
Contestant Omar Ashley in the kitchen for the first time, as seen on Ciao House Season 1 /

As seen in the first challenge, the chefs have to show who they are in a single dish. But, that sentiment did need to reference the experience that the chefs were about to embark on in Italy. Omar said, “This was my first trip to Italy which was a dream come true. The experience was nothing I could ever dream of, it over exceeded my expectations.”

Although Omar said that he was “trained to use techniques not cuisine,” the reality is that strong technique can help any chef succeed. There are many similarities between cuisines. The words might not be the same, but there is a connection that brings people together.

Omar shared, “I always say the two things in life that connect the world are food and music. Food has its own language meaning it allows a world of people to connect who share a common love without vocalizing a thing.”

The common connection can be wonderful, but in Ciao House the competition is another layer to the situation. Whether or not it is Big Brother meets Food Network remains to be seen but Omar said, “I found it very easy to live with people coming from a large family myself. But having the knowledge of this being a competition you had to read a lot more body language than your normal family, which made for a dope experience.”

Ciao House Food Network Omar Ashley
Contestants cook in the first trial, as seen on Ciao House Season 1 /

While the Ciao House experience might be over, Omar shared, “The biggest lesson I’ve learned is, while yes, you’re in this industry alone, your ability to create great cuisine will take a team effort.” In some ways, that sentiment is clearly on display in this Food Network competition.

Whether or not Omar shares his favorite Italian cuisine dish, Shrimp Parmesan, during the competition will require people to watch. As for what’s next for the talented chef, that remains to be seen.

Ciao House airs on Food Network Sunday nights at 9 p.m. and can be streamed on discovery+.