Easthampton native competes on new Food Network show
Easthampton native Gary Gianchetti Jr. will be one of four chefs featured on the premiere of Cutthroat Kitchen on the Food Network Aug. 11 at 10 p.m. PHOTO COURTESY OF GARY GIANCHETTI. Purchase photo reprints »
Easthampton native Gary Gianchetti Jr. will be one of four chefs featured on the premiere of Cutthroat Kitchen on the Food Network Aug. 11 at 10 p.m. He is pictured here at Flora Restaurant in Arlington, where he is sous chef. PHOTO COURTESY OF GARY GIANCHETTI. Purchase photo reprints »
EASTHAMPTON — A city native who cut his culinary teeth at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School and area restaurants will be featured on a new Food Network cooking competition.
Gary Gianchetti Jr., 30, who now lives in Boston, will compete with three other top chefs on the premiere episode of “Cutthroat Kitchen” Aug. 11 at 10 p.m.
“It was a blast,” he said of shooting the show June 13. “I think it’s going to open some more doors for me.”
Gianchetti couldn’t reveal much about the show, but did say cooking in a challenge with a time limit was “more intense” than the cooking he does in the kitchen of Flora, the American bistro-style restaurant in Arlington where he is sous chef.
The show is similar to other cooking competitions, like “Chopped,” except that competitors are allowed to “sabotage” each other during the three rounds of cooking challenges. “That’s when things get messy,” Gianchetti said.
Host and Food Network regular Alton Brown tells the chefs what dishes they will be cooking and gives them $25,000 each to use in auctions, where they bid on things to help themselves or hinder their opponents. For instance, a competitor can buy the exclusive use of salt, or spend to prevent an opponent from tasting his or her dish.
Judges will eliminate one chef at the end of each of the three rounds, leaving one winner at the end of the show. The winner gets to take home whatever is left of the $25,000 he or she was given at the beginning of the show, said Whitney Bell, a spokeswoman for Food Network.
On the premiere of “Cutthroat Kitchen,” called “Pork Chops and Sabotage,” Gianchetti and the other chefs have to make a pork chops and applesauce dish, but some of them can’t use pork chops or apples. In subsequent rounds, they make macaroni and cheese and fish and chips, but one chef can’t use a fryer thanks to sabotage from another chef.
Gianchetti said he tried out last year for “Hell’s Kitchen,” a Fox cooking competition, but wasn’t chosen. But that’s how producers of “Cutthroat Kitchen” got his name; they called him this spring to interview for the new show.
From kitchen to studio
In a phone interview from Boston, Gianchetti said that being featured as a chef on the Food Network is a great opportunity, one that’s even sweeter because he faced serious challenges while on his career path.
He grew up in Easthampton and started studying culinary arts at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton. “It was definitely good to start at such a young age in the kitchen,” he said.
After graduating in 2001, he worked as a chef at local restaurants, including The Depot in Northampton and Carmelina’s in Hadley. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., in 2004.
From there, he pursued his career cooking at restaurants and events from Las Vegas to Florida’s Palm Beach. In 2005, while working for then Carmelina’s owner Damien DiPaula, he got to cook for Matt Damon, Penelope Cruz and other celebrities at a swanky film screening in New York City.
But he came close to throwing away his career due to a struggle with drug and alcohol abuse three years ago, he said.
In February 2011, Gianchetti was arrested in Easthampton for writing himself false prescriptions and possessing prescription drugs. He admitted to facts sufficient for a guilty finding and Northampton District Court Judge W. Michael Goggins ordered him to go to an Allston halfway house for treatment, to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and to stay drug-free for 18 months.
He’s been sober ever since.
“He gave me a second chance at life,” Gianchetti said of Goggins. “Without that, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity.”
Since then, he’s worked at restaurants in the Boston area, including the well-known spot Prezza. He’s been the sous chef at Flora for a year and a half.
The Arlington restaurant will host a party Aug. 11 at 10 p.m. to watch Gianchetti put his cunning and cooking skills to the test on the “Cutthroat Kitchen” premiere.
His parents, Carol and Gary Gianchetti Sr. will also be tuning in at their home in Southampton. “We’re very excited and very proud of our son,” Carol Gianchetti said Tuesday.
“We’ve always had basic cable, and we had to expand our cable package so we can watch it,” she said with a laugh. “I told Gary (Jr.) and he said, ‘Finally, I can watch it when I come visit.’ ”
Gianchetti said that his parents have supported him unconditionally through the ups and downs, and he is happy they can watch him on TV, doing what he does best.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “Positive stuff is going to come from this.”
Rebecca Everett can be reached at email@example.com.