We had the honor of sitting down with the winner of The Next Food Network Star Aaron McCargo Jr. to discuss the series, his win, and his new series Big Daddy’s House which starts on August 3rd at 1:30pm on Food Network. Here’s what he had to say:
How has your family’s food habits influenced what you want to present in your new show?
A. McCargo: [His family’s food habits have really influenced how he will cook on the show. He will be cooking a lot with his mother and his father and his whole family on the show. ]
“We’re all about big portions. My mother always was into flavoring food a lot and that is what I plan to present to the audience in Big Daddy’s House.”
What was your original impetus to send in an audition tape for Next Food Network Star?
A. McCargo: [He didn’t originally audition for the show. His wife forced his hand to send in the audition tape. She filled out the form and he shot the tape and the rest is history. ]
“I actually never sent anything in. My wife had my hands tied. She sent in my audition tape.”
When during the competition did you start to think that you could actually win?
A. McCargo: “I walked in thinking I had a chance to win. Week to week they took me on a rollercoaster ride but I never gave up believing in my chance of winning.”
Will your show be based on one theme or style of cooking? Or will you open the door to other options say, different regions?
A. McCargo: [His new show Big Daddy’s House, will be wide open and will incorporate all different styles of food. He will also really incorporate a lot of his family into the show and will have some of his friends from the Food Network Star on his show.]
“My food presented on the show is going to be wide open in style and presentation. My main goal is teaching people to use what they have at home in preparing their meals.”
Can you tell us about your favorite family food tradition?
A. McCargo: “My favorite family food tradition had to be fish on Fridays. And because of my Italian background with a Roman Catholic upbringing, I would always prepare pasta on Wednesdays. So on Fridays I started to combine the two into a unique dish to serve to my family.”
My aunt was really rooting for you, but after the last episode I was really concerned about your abilities on camera. There is a lot of pressure when you are at the scrutiny of thousands upon millions of watchers. What can you do to calm your nerves and just be yourself on your show? Also, how do you make your dishes interesting enough for people to want to try making them at home?
A. McCargo: [Aaron is going to keep the dishes simple and will incorporate 5 ingredients or less for each dish that he cooks.]
“The history is very important. I call my food Soul Food but I keep it with an ethnic twist. It’s about food that is flavorful and fun.
Now that you have won, how do you plan to prepare for your new show?
A. McCargo: “My plan is to just get people to tune into my show. With my show ‘Big Daddy’s House’ there will be no competition. I can be myself, having fun and cooking.”
What was the best part of your experience on the show?
A. McCargo: “Meeting the nine other finalists, building relationships and getting good ideas from all of them.”
Were you star struck by anyone like Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray?
A. McCargo: “I look at everyone as an equal. I feel like a star everyday I wake-up.”
Guilty pleasures? Describe Your Perfect Meal.
A. McCargo: “I love Coors Light cold but if I could eat anything, my perfect meal would be a 16 to 18 ounce New York steak, cooked medium with asparagus and fried mushrooms. To start off I would have one of my salad’s with a special dressing and one of my homemade soups.”
What food won’t you eat?
A. McCargo: “There’s not any foods I would not eat. I’m pretty open to eating anything. I love food.”
Favorite food person?
A. McCargo: [Bobby Flay and Paula Dean are his favorite host on the Food Network. He feels that they are his second set of parents on the network and will help him out the most.]
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions?
A. McCargo: “I became a serious eater at the age of 4. I was served one piece of fried chicken and thought to myself, ‘When I get older, I’ll cook my own whole chicken so I can eat it.’ My friends and family think I’m a food junkie. I go to work and cook, I come home and cook, I spend weekends cooking with my family. I just am obsessed with cooking and I want to show the world what I can do and I think ‘Big Daddy’s House’ will be the place to do it.”
Interview By: Emma Loggins