Chris Kanik brings smarts, humor, and resilience to Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars, interview

Chris Kanik. © 2023 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Michael Becker/FOX.
Chris Kanik. © 2023 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Michael Becker/FOX. /

Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars is not the typical food television competition that FOX viewers know from the highly acclaimed chef. As the food entrepreneurs seek to gain the stamp of approval from the Ramsay empire, one individual seems to offer the well-rounded attributes that are imperative for an impactful brand. Chris Kanik, CEO of Smart Cups, might know how to engage the audience, but he is ready to be a game changer in the food innovation space.

Like any food television program, personality is as important as a great concept. If people do not want to buy what you are selling, the product will sit on a shelf. From the viral social media thread to the memorable jingle, leveraging that 15 minutes of fame into a cultural phenomena is vital.

Although Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars episodes focus on a particular task in each episode, Chris Kanik has had opportunities to stand out for his unique set of abilities. At one moment showcasing his background in stand-up and in another mastering the nuances of beverage blending, each episode offers a little more insight into this multi-faceted, knowledgeable businessman.

During a recent conversation with Chris, he spoke to FoodSided about Smart Cups, the brand’s potential to change the world, and why the Gordon Ramsay stamp of approval would be the ultimate goal for his innovative product.

While many food fans can appreciate the intricacies of ingredients to create layered flavors in a recipe, the science behind Smart Cups might be a little more complex. Although Chris’ scientific expertise easily explains the concepts, the reality is that this product can be more than an energy beverage printed on a single use cup. As he mentioned, the potential for this type of concept can be applied to a wider food landscape.

The analogy that Chris used in his explanation is simple. He said, “Smart Cups is a patented printing technology that allows for the printing of ingredients on surfaces. Think about Willy Wonka’s wallpaper.” While he might not be making candy, it transformed a concept used for people who have difficulty swallowing pills into a proof of concept that can evolve the food industry. When a small package of cups can take the place of a case of aluminum energy drink cans, the idea is beneficial environmentally, economically, and more.

While Gordon Ramsay Food Star’s viewers do not get a deep dive into the participant’s products during the episodes, the skills that they have learned in their roles come through in each challenge. Chris was chosen to help with beverage formulation because he appreciates the science behind the concept. Even though he does not drink, he can extrapolate the idea.

Speaking to why participating in this FOX show was vital to his brand, Chris was straightforward. Getting that Gordon Ramsay stamp of approval could catapult him into a different level. It is more than additional product sales; it is showcasing a concept that has extreme potential.

As Chris explained, Smart Cups do not have to be limited to just an energy drink. From a single use mouthwash for travelers to printed soup bowls that could help combat hunger in crisis communities, there are a plethora of uses to be explored.

While Chris might have developed this idea 11 years ago while sitting at his kitchen table, the platform that this Gordon Ramsay show offers cannot be re-created with smart marketing or media buys. Even though he has never faltered in his belief that he can overcome any problem, Chris understood that he has to take opportunities when they are presented.

Although Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars is not necessarily a food competition, there have been food focused challenges. While Chris admits that he is not a cook, he has cooked up innovative ideas in a lab setting. Even though his wife’s family is full of chefs, Chris is not usually found in the kitchen. Still, he understands how to find his place in each challenge and use his abilities to help the team.

Chris Kanik Gordon Ramsay's Food Stars
GORDON RAMSAY’S FOOD STARS: Contestant Chris in the “Social Feed” episode of GORDON RAMSAY’S FOOD STARS airing Wednesday, July 12 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. 2022 Fox Media LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/FOX /

Those characteristics have shown his adaptability, which seems to be key to moving forward in the Gordon Ramsay Foos Star’s competition. No one has to be the best chef, create the most memorable gimmick, or be the mediator on the team. Instead, it is the person who navigates all those aspects while still driving a victory that could walk away with the big prize.

That multifaceted approach to the FOX show aligns with why Chris decided to join the competition. As he said, appearing on the show aligns with his strategy. Explaining, “my strategy is to go after food and beverage applications, gain mainstream acceptance, and then open up the doors for all the pharmaceutical and humanitarian applications. If you get a name like Gordon Ramsay to put his stamp of approval on your food. It almost guarantees commercial success. That will open up the doors and create a domino effect for adoption across all the other categories and sectors.”

As viewers watch, and potentially rewatch episodes, Chris is unlike the other competitors on the show. He is looking for a strategic partner. He admitted, “I’m not a cook. I’ve never made hummus and I don’t know about reverse searing.” What he does know is that he is the only person on the show with a patented product that has commercial and humanitarian possibilities that could change the food industry for years to come.

Will Chris Kanik walk away with the title of Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars winner? Only time will tell. More importantly, the bigger hope is this experience is an early chapter in the Smart Cups story.

Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. on FOX. Episodes can also be streamed on Hulu.

Chris Kanik is the founder of Smart Cups.

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