Local chef competes on 'Beat Bobby Flay'

Fabrizio Schenardi — executive chef at Four Seasons Resort Orlando — appeared on a recent episode of Food Network’s ‘Beat Bobby Flay.’

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  • | 1:00 p.m. September 3, 2020
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During his life as a chef, Fabrizio Schenardi has been on television many times, but this one was different.

The Winter Garden resident — who serves as the executive chef at Four Seasons Resort Orlando — recently in an episode of the Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay.”

Most people would have been nervous, but Schenardi said he was excited to try something new.

“I was relaxed when I went,” Schenardi said. “It was more of a curiosity for me than anything else; I just wanted to see what was going on and what they do, that’s it, that was my goal — it wasn’t to compete or anything else, it was just more for the fun part.

“It was very cool, because then obviously you get to know Bobby Flay, the other chef and other people around,” he said. “It was a cool thing to do.”

“Beat Bobby Flay” is a cooking competition where chefs get the chance to compete against celebrity chef Flay in front of a live-studio audience on national television. The show’s popularity has helped lead it to a long run on the Food Network, and it’s currently in its 25th season.

The episode featuring Schenardi was filmed last November but aired Sunday, Aug. 23. And although it all looks easy, the process of even getting on the show is quite exhausting, Schenardi said.

Schenardi had been contacted in the past about making an appearance on the show but was too busy to commit. Eventually, Schenardi found time in his schedule, but what followed was an exhaustive process of obstacles.

Schenardi sent his résumé and paperwork, before going over dish specifics and information about his life. A short time later, Schenardi flew to New York City where, on the second day of his trip, he was up at 5 a.m. to prepare for the show to be filmed that day.

Schenardi recalled it was a whirlwind of moments — which included meeting everyone on the show, including Atlanta-based chef Jessica Gamble, who Schenardi would have to beat in the first round if he wanted to take on Flay.

“They show you around and what’s going on,” Schenardi said. “They take you into the studio a little bit early, and they tell you what you can do and cannot do. The only thing they asked you before the show was what you liked to cook and what you don’t like to cook — in case you pass to the second phase of the show.”

Chefs are given everything they need to work with, as well as a secret ingredient that is revealed at the beginning.  Schenardi and Gamble’s secret ingredient was bulgur wheat — a cereal food made from the cracked parboiled groats of several different wheat species, most often from durum wheat.

For Schenardi — who was born in Rivoli, Italy — the secret ingredient, which originated in Middle Eastern cuisine, wasn’t something he used often.

“I don’t use bulgur wheat very much — I’m not crazy about it, let’s put it that way — and then when you see it it’s like, ‘Oh boy, why this?’” he said. “But you do the best you can and that’s it. You have very little time to do it and then you’re like, ‘OK, what am I thinking,’ and then you think one thing and then it’s something else — all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Maybe it’s better if I do something different.’ You change your mind and you lose a little bit of time. … Then you move on obviously, because you don’t have time to reflect on the whole thing.

“You have to move on,” he said. “It’s a different feeling than when you’re in the kitchen — it’s a different type of pressure.”

Schenardi fell in the first round to Gamble — who eventually lost to Flay in the second round. Still, the experience was worth it.

“I enjoyed meeting Bobby Flay — he was an interesting guy,” Schenardi said. “It was interesting to see the Food Network — how they work and how they do things. Overall, it was a very good experience.”


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