Halloween is coming early this year for Houston foodies with a sweet, televised treat. Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen is airing its “Tournament of Terror” this week. Peli Peli chef Paul Friedman will compete in the kooky contest on the episode on the evening of Wednesday, October 5 at 9 p.m.
Luckily, the South African-born chef is no shrinking violet. His many TV appearances have included a win with restaurant partners Thomas Nguyen and Michael Tran on an episode of CNBC's Restaurant Startup that aired earlier this year. He says his episode of Cutthroat Kitchen will be a fun, Halloween-themed competition that will cast chefs in less-than-dignified challenges such as preparing deviled eggs while wearing monster costumes, a spider-web-themed spider roll challenge and flambéeing a dessert in a "haunted kitchen."
Friedman, who has more than 35 years of experience in the restaurant industry and countless awards to his name, will participate alongside chefs Natalie Beck (Palo Alto, California), Josephine Proul (Philmont, New York), and Ian Russell (Kannapolis, North Carolina).
“Cutthroat Kitchen was a challenge for me, but it was a fun thing to do,” Friedman says. “I want people to see me as a fun chef. Its not about winning, it’s just about giving the audience something to enjoy and laugh about.”
You have to be able to cook, no doubt, because the chefs have to endure intense sabotage such as having all their ingredients smashed, but are still expected to come up with a dish that gets the flavor right.
“It’s a crazy show. I love it. I hope they’ll invite me on again!” Friedman says with glee.
When not making appearances on cooking shows or giving motivational talks, Friedman throws himself full-time into Peli Peli, his 58th restaurant. He hopes to open his first “fast casual” concept, Peli Peli Kitchen, by late October—a scaled down version of Peli Peli with dishes like oxtail with fried mieliepap, curried chicken and the chef’s take on a lobster roll.
“In the future I would love to have my own cooking show,” he says. And if we know that Friedman drive, he'll keep trying until he gets one.