While food television culinary competitions fill the schedule, the Hulu show, Secret Chef, looks to bring together a wide range of food lovers to watch, decipher and emulate these curious creations. Although the blind tasting added a level of intrigue for the participants, it was the cooks’ adaptability in the moment that moved them ahead in the competition. For the winner, Anthony “Lanky” Langston, earning the crown began with a plan.
In Hulu’s Secret Chef, the competition brought together cooks from all backgrounds. Professional chefs, social media influencers, and home cooks assumed food-centric profiles as each one offered their take on a particular challenge. Whether it was Lanky’s Chef Macaron or the formidable Chef Donut, each participant not only had to present a great dish, but also needed to deduce which the clues to the uncover their competitors. In a way, it was a two-fold challenge. Being skilled in both components led to success.
As the Secret Chef winner, Lanky weaved his way through the various challenges. Although some people appreciated his unique approach, other viewers might have wondered where his unlikely flavor combinations originated. Still, time and again, everyone was talking about Lanky, aka Chef Macaron.
During a recent conversation with Lanky, he shared his approach to the competition, what was the idea behind that pink puree, and how editing ideas was key to his success. While Lanky has experience behind the bar and as a cheese monger, those two positions were not the only factor to his rise to the top. Years watching food television and an appreciation for flavor helped him beat out some stiff competition.
When asked why he decided to jump into the Secret Chef competition, Lanky said that he has loved competing. After learning the premise of the show, he believed that his position as a non-professional chef allowed him “not to be pigeonholed” into certain ideas or concepts. Although he admitted that he was a little worried about being thrown into a competition with professional chefs, he knew that he was up to the challenge.
During one of the early challenges, Lanky had a hand in what some might think was a slightly unusual dish. The parsnip puree with kimchi created a pink colored base to a plate. Explaining his process behind that choice, Lanky said, “I was thinking what cooks fast, would be easy to puree, and how to get Korean flavor in the dish. I was hoping it wouldn’t turn pink and tried to cover it. I think that was my second biggest risk of the season.”
Lanky said his biggest risk in Secret Chef was cooking a 90-minute mole. While he loves doing mole at home, the competition pressures are different. More importantly, he was “hoping to show off.” Since his fellow competitors had to complete the same dish, it was a difficult task for them to master. As Lanky shared, “it was the perfect time to pull out my signature dish and it was a huge move in the competition.”
While there were ups and downs throughout the Secret Chef competition, Lanky said that his bbq chicken cabbage rolls showed off his best cooking attributes. He mentioned that there was a fine dining aspect to the dish but also big, bold Texas flavors. The versatility in this dish was well representative of his approach to food.
Although there were times when Lanky could showcase his personality, he was well aware that it was a competition. As that dot matrix printer sent feedback, the reality is listening, understanding, and implementing that commentary was vital. Lanky said that he thought his food was well seasoned till he kept hearing that the dishes lacked salt.
Still, each critique offered insight into his competitors. As Secret Chef progressed, it was easier to determine who said and cooked each item. Even though Lanky believed that he was fair and impartial with his commentary, there needed to be a keen eye with all those statements.
And, what advice would Lanky give home cooks as they look to expand their culinary creativity. One idea that he has learned as a cheese monger is to encourage people to appreciate less is more. For example, that cheese plate does not necessarily have to be overflowing with every option from the case. A little strategic editing can make eating more enjoyable.
Experienced cooks, aspiring chefs, and even families can find all types of culinary insight on Secret Chef. From Anthony “Lanky” Langston’s winning recipe to the HelloFresh inspired dishes, there are plenty of reasons to watch and rewatch the episodes. It might not make the next meal David Chang worthy but it will be an enjoyable experience.
Secret Chef can be watched on Hulu. Season 1 has 10 episodes.