Austin Cobb showcases his personal connection to food on Ciao House Season 2, interview

Austin Cobb, Ciao House Season 2
Austin Cobb, Ciao House Season 2 / Food Network

In various challenges, Chef Austin Cobb has impressed both the judges and his fellow chefs on Ciao House Season 2. While he might have introduced himself as a laid back, Costa Rican chef who loves to fish, his knowledge and appreciation for Italian food and culture is clear.

Each Ciao House Season 2 episode transports viewers into another stunning Italian experience. From making pasta with the nonnas to kneading bread from the masters, the blend of impeccable Italian food with a taste of wanderlust has people coming back for more episodes of this Food Network culinary competition show.

From the first episode, Chef Austin Cobb stood out in the kitchen. While he might not have instantly revealed his wealth of Italian food knowledge, his cooking techniques as well as his creative interpretations of classis dishes got him noticed.

During a recent interview, Austin revealed some intriguing insight to Italian cuisine, learning from his mistakes, and the next adventure on his flavorful journey.

Cristine Struble: What drew you to this Food Network culinary competition?

Austin Cobb: They actually reached out to me while I was living in Costa Rica. I watched Season 1 after being contacted by Food Network if I was interested in being on the show.  After that, I felt the show was tailored to me and my Italian background.  Having cooked at Marenná restaurant on top of the winery Feudi de San Gregorio in the city of Sorbo Serpico, I already had a Southern Italian culinary experience. I felt like this was right up my alley. I also wanted to showcase my skills on a large scale hopefully leading to new opportunities.  

CS: Costa Rica celebrates the “pura vida.” Do you think that Italian culture has a concept that influences both its culture and cuisine?  

AC: Literal translation is “Pure Life” - it is a philosophy and a way of emphasizing simplicity, joy, and gratitude.  It encourages individuals to live in the present moment and find happiness in the simplest of pleasures.  ‘Pura Vida’ is about letting go of stress and embracing a positive outlook on life. ‘Pura Vida’ is deeply ingrained in the Costa Rican mentality, characterized by warmth, friendliness, sense of community, and a genuine zest for life. I feel there are a lot of parallels between Costa Rica and Italian culture and morals. I guess “Vita Bella” could be its equivalent. Especially in the South of Italy, there is strong value in slow pace, being present, food, family, warmth, and simplicity.  That’s why I chose both to call home for a period of time in my life.  

The Italian culture and cuisine are deep rooted!  It’s all about local products and celebrating friends and family while breaking bread at the dinner table.  It’s a slow pace of life.  That all falls into my personal morals and values in life.

CS: Do you ever put too much pressure on yourself to be the best? How have you learned from your mistakes?

AC: I do put an extreme amount of pressure on myself to be the best I can be and make a positive impact on this world. Pressure makes diamonds and that is my thought process transforming myself into the best I can be.  I believe putting pressure on myself is healthy and has gotten me this far.

Learning from my mistakes is one of the best life lessons there is. It’s important for me to surround myself with smart, talented, and driven people. And when I mess up and or drop the ball I need to listen to those people and take it to heart and make the adjustments.

CS: The environment of Ciao House is unlike other culinary competitions. How did you balance working and living with the other chefs?

AC: Ciao House was a unique environment, living with my fellow Chefs in tight quarters.  I naturally have the ability to get along with most people and keep an even keel. I treated everyone with respect and focused my energy on making delicious food while avoiding conflict or drama.  

CS: What was your biggest struggle in the competition?

AC: My biggest struggle in the competition was staying focused every day and during every challenge.  We worked long hours while not having our own space or normal confines and freedoms I’m used to in my normal life.  

CS: How do you think that the coast/proximity to water influences both Italian and Costa Rican cuisine?

AC: I’m an Ocean enthusiast and enjoy eating the bounties of the sea.  There are many of the same fish in both respective counties, for example Tuna, Snapper, and Mahi Mahi AKA Dorado are both enjoyed by both countries amongst many other fish.  A salty fisherman is a universal way of life no matter where you are in the world.  It is a connection with nature, environment, and way of life. That is definitely my jam!

AC: I’m going back to Costa Rica to fish, surf, make art, and create super tasty sushi. I also really love adventure and new experiences in life.  I have a feeling this show will open some new doors to the next chapter in my life.  I think it’s important to be present while also seizing new opportunities when they arise.

CS: What is next for you after Ciao House?

Ciao House Season 2 airs on Food Network with new episodes every Sunday night. Episodes can be streamed on MAX.