A lot of the chatter coming out of this year’s MAD4 Symposium in Copenhagen was about chef Chris Cosentino’s frank discussion of his experiences in food television. Now, you can watch the full video courtesy of the MADFeed and see for yourself why it got so many people talking.
In frank, expletive-ridden terms, Cosentino describes how he transformed from a competitive young cook who loved Iron Chef, to a reality-TV celebrity that he hated—seemingly overnight. The bulk of his bad experience centers around one show that he willingly signed up for, yet quickly found himself doing things he never thought would be part of the production—competing in gluttonous food challenges, eating whole ghost chilies, and bullying less experienced contestants.
The cautionary tale gets worse as the punishment he put his body through to complete his contract ultimately had very real affects on his health, ravaging his stomach and causing all sorts of other nasty problems. “They said it looked like I swallowed a wolverine that tried to scratch itself out,” he recalls. “Trust me, it’s not fucking funny, because I spent days on the shitter.”
For Cosentino, it was a classic case of learning the pitfalls of celebrity the hard way. He started out with good intentions—to grow his business and provide for his family—but ego and bullheadedness allowed him to be manipulated into going down a path he never imagined.
He’s healthy and rebuilding now, but the pain of being labelled a “sellout” is clearly still raw. Ultimatley, Cosentino’s hope is that his experience will cause other cooks to think twice about jumping at every TV opportunity that comes their way. “There’s chef mentors, and now [we need] TV chef mentors,” he says.