Christian Petroni reflects on the opportunities Food Network gives him, interview

Christian Petroni cooking at Ella's by Christian Petroni
Christian Petroni cooking at Ella's by Christian Petroni / Ella's by Christian Petroni

From competitor to judge, Chef Christian Petroni has had many roles on Food Network. While he rose to fame as the Next Food Network Star winner, his association with the iconic food television brand is more than just a single victory. During a recent conversation with Chef Christian, he is humbled by all the opportunities he has experienced because of this food television connection.

From his Nashville restaurant Ella’s by Christian Petroni to his collaboration with Texas based-pizza restaurants, Chef Christian is constantly on the go. While his presence at Yankee Stadium might be a full circle moment for the long-time baseball fan, his diverse offerings show his culinary versatility. The classic Italian influence is never far from mind, but he is never afraid to modernize the dishes to appeal to a wide audience.

Even though Chef Christian had much success prior to his rise to fame on Food Network, that platform exposes him and his food to a huge audience. Always humble, he appreciates how being on the screen, in people’s homes, is an opportunity that he will never take for granted.

Specifically, Chef Christian said, “no one has given me more opportunities that Food Network.” That emphatic statement is clear. Whether it is competing on Tournament of Champions or judging on shows like Chopped and Guy’s Grocery Games, those appearances are more than just minutes of screen time. It is the connections that he makes off screen.

Chef Christian shared, “no one has been more supportive of my career, of me, and has believed in me more. To have a mentor like Guy Fieri and an incredibly dear friend like Bobby Flay, I have been given and am grateful for all those opportunities.”

Long before he was one of the chefs that fill hours of programming, Chef Christian was a fan. He recalled watching Bobby Flay on episodes of Boy Meets Grill. Those images of Flay grilling on a Brooklyn rooftop and it inspired him to keep pushing towards his own culinary opportunities.

Today’s Food Network chefs have fans who wear their t-shirts, seek their restaurants, and want to taste that food they see on television. There is a deeply rooted connection to the person, their food, and what they represent.

Christian Petroni has been open and honest with his culinary journey. As seen in the Food Network documentary, Restaurant Hustle, the road to success is never smooth sailing.

Having worked in the restaurant business since he was 12 years old, he has learned that it is more than delicious food that brings people back to the table. He said, “we need to make people feel great and we need to show that we are grateful for that opportunity.”

In some ways, that sentiment is the key to great restaurant hospitality. Diners do not want to feel like cattle being ushered in and shipped out. They want to feel welcome, part of the experience, and valued for their decision to come to that restaurant.

While Chef Christian Petroni puts thoughtful intention behind all his projects, he is constantly looking ahead. From his restaurants, Food Network appearances, Yankee Stadium outpost, Petroni Foods, and upcoming cookbook Parm to Table, the celebrated chef has an overflowing plate, but he would not have it any other way.