by Terry Rogers
Bill Clifton, executive chef and co-owner of the Counting House restaurant in Georgetown, says that cooking in front of a camera was not difficult at all when he filmed an episode of “Beat Bobby Flay” about a year ago. What was difficult was the 12 hours it took to film the episode.
“My brother, John, traveled to the show with me and I don’t think he had any idea how long that day would be,” Clifton said. “He actually ended up participating and they made him reshoot a few things. It was a phenomenal experience. This was my first time ever doing any type of cooking competition, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.”
Beat Bobby Flay is a half-hour show that appears on the Food Network. In each half-hour episode, two chefs compete to create a dish using an ingredient chosen by celebrity chef Bobby Flay. The winner of that challenge goes on to the second round in which they battle against Flay himself. In the second round, the visiting chef gets to choose a signature dish that is unknown to Flay and the celebrity chef must create his own version.
“Before the show, they give you a list of things you can’t cook, tell you some of the allergies the judges may have,” Clifton said. “I had to give them a few recipes that I would use if I made it to the second round. The first few I sent, they didn’t like so we had to make some changes.”
Clifton said the show contacted him to participate in the show. He was working at the Henlopen Oyster House in Rehoboth when the show discovered him but had moved on when the show called the restaurant to interview him. The owner reached out to Clifton and he returned the call to the show the same day. He had to go through several different interviews including a Skype call. Clifton said after the Skype interview, he was sure he would be selected for the competition.
“When they gave us the secret ingredient, the producers actually apologized, saying they were running out of ideas,” Clifton laughed. “I am sworn to secrecy about what happened on the show. I can’t say if I made it to the second round or if I won.”
Flay was a “super nice guy,” Clifton said. During a break, Clifton asked Flay what he planned to do when they finished filming and was surprised to hear that the chef intended to go to his New York restaurant.
“I was like, ‘are you kidding! I can’t wait to go get a beer’,” Clifton laughed. “He is extremely skilled at what he does. It is easy to judge someone on television, think they are cocky. But when you reach a certain level, you have to be cocky. But he was super nice and friendly. We talked about Delaware cuisine and Bobby said he didn’t think he had ever had cuisine from Delaware.” Clifton said they film two episodes a day for the show so that they are several weeks ahead for production.
Clifton does not know how the show will be edited down to a half hour since they filmed for so long. One thing he did not expect was how hot the set would be.
“They told me to bring a couple shirts in solid colors,” Clifton said. “I took three or four shirts that I thought were solid colors, but they didn’t like any of them. I wore a dark blue sweater to the set and I ended up having to wear it for all the filming. I was soaking wet by the time we finished.”
The show will air on the Food Network on May 2nd at 10 PM. Clifton believes it is the season finale for the series.
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