Celebrity chef’s ultimate goal? Keep it simple
The man once named “Sexiest Chef Alive” by People magazine is all about making other people look like rock stars in their own kitchens.
Celebrity chef Tyler Florence knows just how to do it: uncomplicated recipes using fresh foods and creative flavor combinations. Each week on “Tyler’s Ultimate” on the Food Network, the 37-year-old South Carolina native looks to inspire American cooks at home by whipping up his best or “ultimate” recipe for everything from lasagna and chili to shrimp scampi and crab cakes.
“It’s all about getting dinner on the table from a chef’s point of view,” Florence says. “My particular thing is to make you look good in the kitchen. That’s what I try to do every episode. Nobody wants to spend 150 bucks on ingredients for dinner and come home and spend two hours making it and have it not work out.”
He knows he’s succeeded when fans stop him on the street or send an e-mail to say they tried one of his dishes and it was the hit of their dinner party. His more than 75 public appearances each year are rewarding in a different way.
“It’s the other end of being on television,” Florence says. “Being on television . . . you do get casual feedback, but when you’re in front of a live audience and you’re making something, you get that instantaneous response of people being really into what you’re talking about or really into what you’re cooking. It’s a blast. I love it.”
Florence cut his teeth on Southern cooking in his hometown of Greenville, S.C. – fried chicken is still a favorite. At 19, he went off to the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University and moved to New York City in 1992 after graduating with honors. It was there that he became a rising star and made his first guest appearance on the Food Network in 1996. His own shows, including “Food 911,” “How to Boil Water” and “Tyler’s Ultimate,” followed.
In addition to production for new episodes of “Tyler’s Ultimate,” he has two books due out in October, “Tyler Florence: Dinner at My Place” and “Tyler Florence: Stirring the Pot” (Meredith Books, both $19.95). He opened a retail kitchen store in Mill Valley, Calif., this summer, and he’ll open a restaurant in downtown San Francisco in March. He and his wife, Tolan, who have a toddler son, Hayden, just welcomed baby daughter Dorothy in August.
Still, Florence says he finds time to cook and entertain at home.
“I think the success of my following is my consistency. That’s what I’m really proud of,” he says. ” I’m like everybody else. I think people take a lot of comfort in knowing they’re being led down the right road.”
ON THE WEB
Tyler Florence: www.tylerflorence.com/main.html