We're two episodes in on Next Food Network Star and there are eight contestants left.
This week, our Next Food Network Star contestant interview is with Paul McCullough. Paul told us his fisherman father and "casserole queen" mother taught him how to cook. He also gave shout-out to all his gay and lesbian fans and hints that someone else on the show is coming out soon.
Our email interview with Paul is after the jump ...
AT: I heard you're a self-taught chef. Now you're cooking for celebrities including Arianna Huffington, Fran Drescher, and the cast of Desperate Housewives. How did you learn to cook? Did you learn from someone in your family, cookbooks?
Paul McCullough: My father is a fisherman and great cook. We used to go out on his boat and fish for our dinner. He taught me how to filet fish and how to cook it just right whether it was beer battered or broiled with garlic and lemon. He also taught me how to grill a mean filet mignon. My mom was a casserole queen. She used lots of store bought products and doctored them up. As I started cooking for myself I found a happy medium between the two. When I got my first private chef job, I bought cookbooks and magazines to come up with ideas then modify to make them my own.
AT: Your focus is often on preparing parties with ease. Now that it is warming up outside, many apartment dwellers are heading up to the roof for parties. Do you have suggestions for roof-friendly party foods?
PM: First make a list (I know it seems obvious) but a check list will ensure you have all your items when you need them. Serve foods that taste good at room temperature, so you don't have to leave your guests to warm up lunch. If you are planning an afternoon party, be sure to have a big umbrella or two for those who may want shade on a hot day. Keep it simple with a special drink like a Pomegranate Margarita, you'll have less to carry upstairs, you can make a few batches in advance, and everyone gets the same buzz! If you are using disposable items avoid Styrofoam and save the earth!
AT: In the first episode of the show, we noticed that you're up-front about being an out, gay man. I bet that will bring you lots of gay and lesbian fans. Do you have anything to say to them? Do you have gay and lesbian role models in the cooking and hospitality world?
PM: Gay men and lesbians are my main client base, so without them my business would not be what it is today. So I would like to thank them for their support. To the fans of the show I'd say keep watching you never know someone else may come out soon!
AT:Do you have a favorite kitchenware store at home in Los Angeles?
PM: I love Surfas in Culver City. They have a lot of exotic ingredients and supplies a chef or the home cook needs to make a great meal.
Last week, we posted our interview with Colombe Jacobsen.