Hanna Haar feels Ciao House is a full-circle moment on her culinary journey, interview

Hannah Haar on Ciao House Season 2
Hannah Haar on Ciao House Season 2 / Food Network

Ciao House Season 2 delights Food Network fans with its seaside locale and Italian food. Hanna Haar impresses the judges and viewers with her culinary point of view. During a recent interview, the talented chef shares her reason for joining the culinary competition and what is next on her food journey.

For the second season of Ciao House, the chefs might understand the competition, but the picturesque location can sometimes make them long to just sit at the table and enjoy all the food. The kitchen might be chaotic and the occasional bickering might make the moment a tad salty. In the end, it is the opportunity to experience the flavor, beauty, and tradition of Italian food and culture that has them coming back for more.

In Season 2, Hanna Haar jumped at the chance to compete. As seen in a few challenges, the talented chef earned the Capo role. With praise from the judges, she gained confidence in the stiff competition.

Hanna Haar and host Gabe Bertaccini on Ciao House
Hanna Haar and host Gabe Bertaccini on Ciao House / Food Network

During a recent email interview with the chef, Hanna Haar offered her insight on Ciao House Season 2, her love of travel, and what is next in her culinary career.

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

Hanna Haar: The show immediately sounded like an absolute dream. Who could resist the opportunity to learn from masters of culinary excellence in the stunning setting of Italy? It was a dream come true to be invited to join the cast. I have a deep passion for travel, which has always played a significant role in my life and culinary journey. Debuting on the Food Network in such a beautiful country feels like a full-circle moment for me.

CS: Since you grew up on Long Island, has this Food Network experience given you a better appreciation for both the similarities and differences in Italian cuisine?

HH: Growing up on Long Island, Italian culture was all around me. Despite my Irish and Scandinavian heritage, every Sunday my family would visit the local Italian pork store for sausages, braising meats, and marinated mozzarella, then go home to prepare our Sunday Sauce. I have cherished memories of dipping bread into the simmering sauce to "test" it. From a young age, I was enamored with and influenced by Italian culture. This deep connection to the food was palpable everywhere we went in Italy. You could feel the tradition and love emanating from every pasta stand, fish market, and bakery. With both locales situated by the water, I truly appreciated the similarities and differences in their coastal cuisines. I left Italy feeling utterly inspired, ready to infuse my Long Island coastal cuisine with an Italian twist.

CS: The environment of Ciao House is unlike other culinary competitions. How did you balance working and living with the other chefs? What was your biggest struggle in the competition?

HH: Ciao House is indeed unique among culinary competitions. Living and competing in close quarters was quite the challenge. Initially, we became fast friends, but the competition quickly became intense. One minute we were battling against each other, the next we had to work as a team. Chefs are known for their egos, aggression, and pride, and when combined with constant culinary and personal challenges, it created a very dramatic environment. It was an emotional rollercoaster to compete with a team one day, only to face those same teammates as opponents the next. No one could rest easy; no one was safe. My biggest challenge was persuading some of the more stubborn chefs on my teams to cooperate. Chefs are notoriously headstrong, used to being in charge of their own kitchens. It can be challenging to play on a team after that. 

CS: This season celebrates the Italian coast. How did the locale influence your culinary point of view?

HH: I was thrilled to learn that we would be cooking on the Italian coast. Growing up on Long Island, the ocean has always been dear to my heart. I spent my childhood digging for clams and fishing off piers. Arriving in Puglia, I was captivated by the incredible bounty of fresh seafood. It was a coastal chef's dream come true, with endless inspiration around every corner. I embraced the Italian approach of letting quality ingredients speak for themselves. Cooking on the Italian coast taught me valuable lessons about simplicity, quality ingredients, and centuries-old techniques.

CS: Since you have traveled many places, how has travel influenced your culinary point of view, cooking, or approach to food?

HH: Traveling is my greatest joy, second only to cooking. Fortunately, the two passions complement each other perfectly. I strive to center my travels around new culinary and cultural experiences, always seeking out the most local and traditional foods. It truly opens your eyes to the possibilities, the endless exploration that lies in delicious wait. I am eager to discover and savor the world's diverse flavors and beauty. This global perspective lends an interesting twist to my cooking, resulting in a unique blend of flavors, ingredients, techniques, and traditions. There is no single way to describe my cuisine, just as there is no single way to describe the profound impact travel has had on me.

CS: What is next for you after Ciao House?

HH: Like my travels, the road ahead is wide open and full of possibilities. I have more shows in the works and many plans in motion. I am currently writing several books, producing my own culinary series on social channels, and preparing for culinary wellness retreats this winter. I also have plans to open my own establishments and hope to announce them soon. The future is bright and brimming!

Ciao House Season 2 airs new episodes on Sunday nights on Food Network. Episodes can be streamed the next day on MAX.