[09/22/09 - 12:41 AM]
Interview: "The Naughty Kitchen" Star Blythe Beck
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

"Naughty is not just about food but it's a lifestyle," said Chef Blythe Beck, whose new reality series "Naughty Kitchen with Chef Blythe Beck" premieres tonight on Oxygen. In the series, the Dallas-based chef of the Central 214 restaurant weathers an eccentric staff, tough food critics and keeps her head above water in the competitive restaurant business. During a recent press call, Beck, along with "Naughty Kitchen" executive producer Lauren Lexton, explained "my whole thing about this show is that I want people to walk away from this show feeling better about themselves... and I want people to walk away going 'Oh my God, if she can do it so can I!'"

Beck is clear from the start that her cooking is paired with her own belief about how one sees him or her self in the world. "I'm okay just the way I am. That is so important to me. This goes beyond like just deep frying food, which I heart. This is all about being okay with who you are and how you sound and how you look and how you act and that we all have the naughty in us and we need to show the world our naughty."

There's immediate drama in tonight's premiere episode when Beck finds out firsthand what happens when a Dallas Morning News food critic stops by her restaurant unannounced to tell the world whether Central 214 is worth visiting. "I didn't know she was going to stop by," Beck explained. "I didn't know until after the fact so it was as you can imagine a mixture of nerves and scared - I was scared, I was nervous, I was worried. And then I think I went into prayer mode. I think that's pretty much how it went down. I didn't know until she had already been there." Despite the trauma of the food critic visit, Chef Beck found a way to handle the stress. "My job as the chef is to always listen to the criticism and hear what they have to say. And then I have to kind of interpret it and see if they're right or wrong or if they know what's going on. And then at the end of the day there's always vodka therapy to take care of whatever happens so. I think I'm going to be all right."

Asked what sets "Naughty Kitchen" apart from other food-themed reality shows like "Top Chef" or "Iron Chef" and Lexton had an answer ready. "Blythe Beck. I think that what [audiences are] going to see is just absolute love for the food that Blythe cooks. And I think they'll see inspiration from a woman who is unapologetic and just is out there to show everybody how to live life to the fullest."

With her experience with other food-themed shows like "Ace of Cake" and "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" for the Food Network, Lexton saw a different opportunity with making Chef Beck the center of the new series. Lexton explained and she and her producing partners love "doing what we call docu-soaps which are shows about real people living their real lives. And so this was just a perfect combination of both of those. If we found the right type of show like that we would probably do it but, you know, our real love is to find real people like Blythe and be able to celebrate them without having to put them in setup situations."

Asked more specifically about how the producers found Chef Beck and Lexton said, "someone like Blythe somehow is always found because she was born to be on television. And so the story is that one of the other executive producers walked into her restaurant and I think saw the way that she was and just knew immediately that she should be on television." Beck added that maybe it was a bit of serendipity was in the air when that producer stopped by. "I was supposed to be off that night," Beck explained, "and I was being a brat and was in a really bad mood. And, you know, that's how it happened. But he was in Dallas working on another show and I was in my restaurant being, you know, a brat so that's how we met."

Chef Beck doesn't see the show (or her cooking) as comparable to her TV competitors. "My whole thing about the 'Naughty Kitchen' is that I'm on a mission. Like all those other shows out there are amazing but they're all competition shows. My show is about me and my quest and my connection with the food and the diners and people eating it. I get my biggest dirty moment being with my guests and watching them eat my food. So I don't really compare myself to anybody else because it's a totally different show." Chef Beck also explained that "my total world culinary domination isn't just a catch phrase; it's a lifestyle for me. So it's totally different than any other show out here. And it's on the best network ever... I heart Oxygen."

Beck admitted that her career in the kitchen wasn't something she originally sought but vice versa. "I actually didn't know that I wanted to be a cook. I knew that I never wanted to wear pantyhose and I knew I never wanted a lunch hour. But I didn't know what the hell that meant. And in college I majored in philosophy and French and English but my main thing was Miller Light. And then I called for a to-go order one time at a restaurant and the lady said I had a great voice and was polite on the phone if I wanted a job. And I was like 'Oh God, no.' And then she's like 'It could be beer money... ' and boom. I took the job as a door whore and I never looked back. And I fell in love with the restaurant business. This business picked me; I didn't pick it. No it really did, it made me its bitch."

Despite the unexpected successful career in the business, her love for food is not a new thing at all. "My mom is a kick-ass cook; like she's an amazing, amazing cook and she taught me the love of food. My family taught me that love of food and how that's really sharing and bonding. But, you know, I have to give it to my big daddy, [Dallas Chef] Dean Fearing. He was my chef mentor and he really taught me the art and finesse of fine foods."

Even though many of her best known foods are fried, Beck is also interested in just about any type of food imaginable. "I do not stray away from any type of food, sorry, that is my favorite love on Earth. But my genre or what I call sexy new American [is] what I do best. But you might see me getting into some other food on the show. I'm just saying you might see me venture out of my comfort zone. But as a chef we're always trying to learn so I'm always interested about learning about other cultures, about other food because that's how I spread the naughty love, diner by diner, culture by culture."

Chef Beck also explained that she's interested in not just learning but also sharing what she knows about "the world's dirty food secrets. I want to share with them and I want to eat with them and I want to love on them. That's where it came from. I mean, I would love to tell you it was some magic day but it just was like it came from inside and it just kind of flowed out of me because I love it; I love food and I love people. I have the best job ever are you kidding me?"

Finally, while Chef Beck is no stranger to other reality shows on television, she did reveal her own secret crush on a fellow TV chef. "I'm a big fan of 'Top Chef.' I've been watching it since Season 1. Hello, Tom Colicchio is pretty dreamy! Yeah, I heart Top Chef!'"

"The Naughty Kitchen with Chef Blythe Beck" premieres at 10:00/9:00c tonight on Oxygen.

  [september 2009]  


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