Just how far is a chef willing to go to win a cooking competition? In the case of one Black Mountain chef, nearly 2,500 miles.
Once Douglas Walls, executive chef at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, learned that he made the cut for “Cutthroat Kitchen,” a Food Network show hosted by celebrity chef Alton Brown, he and his family were flown to Los Angeles, where he squared off against three other chefs for $25,000.
The outcome? We can’t reveal it here, but curious folks can watch the episode scheduled to air on Sunday, May 1.
Not much is off limits in the zany, fast-paced competition where chefs are given $25,000 and can choose to use the money to buy items to sabotage their opponents or keep it for themselves. The last chef left standing gets to keep any money not spent.
Walls is scheduled to appear in an episode called “The Pesto Times, the Worst of Times.” The plot features two chefs who must make pesto dishes while working in a pine forest, another who has to make a beef dish on a shaking prep station and one who has to hit home runs over “Cutthroat Kitchen’s” Green Monster stadium wall while making a Boston cream pie.
Bizarre scenarios and constantly changing situations are as intrinsic to the show as food preparation. A past episode showcased a chef who had to prep biscuits and gravy on a tiny bed worn as a hat while two others had to make linguine and clams while holding a noodle in their mouths between them, and yet another had to make an ice cream float while floating in an inner tube.
Walls, who serves more than 113,000 meals each year to guests who visit the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, says he was selected for the show based on his culinary talent, plating skills and his ability to perform under extreme pressure. He also says he had to prove he was able to overcome some physical obstacles while preparing and cooking a delicious meal. He doesn’t provide many details about that, but he does reveal that tried out via Skype and an Easy-Bake Oven was involved.
“It was the most extreme, exciting and liberating experience of my life,” says Walls. “I will never forget the adrenaline I felt being on the set. I loved that limelight. There was family talk during breaks, but I never forgot that these other chefs were my competition. I kept a straight face.”
Walls is not the first Asheville-area chef to brave “Cutthroat Kitchen.” In 2014, Canyon Kitchen chef Adam Hayes appeared on the show and won the competition.
Tune in to the Food Network at 10 p.m. Sunday, May 1, to see how Walls fared.