Cincinnati-based chef Christian Gill has been taking on every challenge that the Food Network has to offer this summer. He is currently competing in Guy’s Grocery Games Summer Tournament and has moved on through two of the episodes winning best dish.
He also completed the nearly impossible task of beating Food Network legend Bobby Flay.
This isn’t Christian’s first appearance on Food Network. He has won Guy’s Grocery Games in the past. He was also crowned the champion on Food Network’s “Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge” winning the $25,000 grand prize.
Gill is the owner of my favorite Cincinnati area eatery Boomtown Biscuits & Whiskey in Union, Kentucky.
Over the past few weeks, you have appeared on Guys Grocery Games and Beat Bobby Flay. Can you share some of the highlights of your experience on both shows on the Food Network?
Some of the highlights of my experience definitely would be like winning best dish overall on the first week of the Grocery Games Summer Tournament with my crunchy corn curry salad. Just coming out of the gate with something very simple. Everybody else on the episode made an entrée with a side.
They made something, much more complex than what I did. I think maybe Nina (Singto) with her cheese wontons, might have been the only other dish that wasn’t like a composed plate. And I just remember making it and standing up there waiting to be judged and the judge looking down at it like is this all that we’re getting from you? Like you’ve won this before and you present this, right out the gate?
Just the look of betrayal on Simon Mujumdar’s face as they placed that crock of corn salad in front of him -that was pretty priceless.
On Beat Bobby Flay, probably the moment that I was facing off with him, about to tell him what my special dish was. And I said “Do you like biscuits?” and his eyes really did light up. He was like, “I love biscuits.” And then I said, “No, it’s not what we’re making.”
I would say that those are definitely the two highlights from the last week, two episodes.
Well, the internet wants to know the crunchy corn curry salad recipe.
I’ve seen some of the requests for that salad recipe, so now I’m trying to get everything together to share it.
Honestly, you all would be better off making it from watching the episode than I would from memory. As soon as Guy [Fieri] says “Go,” your brain just kind of clicks over and you start competing. Competing has kind of become like a eat, sleep, breathe, sort of situation so it’s something that I don’t necessarily remember because I was just in the moment.
Why did you choose Banh Mi as your signature dish on Beat Bobby Flay?
I wanted to show my love of all things Asian food, but then also my ability to step outside of the box of biscuits and gravy.
A lot of people just know me for biscuits and don’t know me for anything else. I mean Boomtown is a biscuit-focused restaurant and they haven’t seen or been able to try anything else that I’ve created.
I wanted to showcase some of my other strengths in terms of flavor, composition and execution. Banh Mi is one of my favorite sandwiches and there is a lot of flexibility with it. The time of the biscuit has not gone away, but it’s time to start raising up some other fun foods.
I’m glad I did choose it because clearly, Bobby has not made many Banh Mi’s in his life
I watch the show religiously it’s really hard to beat him, o congratulations.
Are you still doing the online YouTube food series “Sh!t in the Fridge?”
Unfortunately, no, I’m not. I’ve been busy with some new content that’s coming out shortly that I can’t talk about yet, some more shows actually.
So, I haven’t been able to focus on “Shit in the Fridge” It was pretty cool and it seemed like people liked it as we filmed it during the pandemic.
In the future I might do, like a supper club “Sh!t in the Fridge” pop-up. I think that would be a lot of fun.
Do you think doing the Youtube series helped prepare you for the Food Network shows?
I think it’s the opposite way around. I think all of my experience that I now have on Food Network and has really prepared me to be able to create cool content for YouTube and Facebook.
I’ve been competing for about five and a half years now, whether that’s filming pilots and conceptual stuff that has made the air or if it’s filming international food shows like “Fire Masters” for Food Network Canada.
While you were filming the TV Shows did you get to do any sightseeing on the East and West Coasts?
For the most part, I just worked while filming Guy’s Grocery Games. You film in Northern California and it is outside of the city so it’s a journey to visit other areas.
I filmed Beat Bobby Flay in New York City. Every single time I’m in New York City, I’m eating something cool. I like to try a brand-new restaurant that I’ve never been to.
What did you try this time around?
The most recent thing was actually it was my first experience with Second Avenue Deli. It’s one of the top Jewish delis in NYC. It was a glorious experience. Some of the best Matzoh Ball Soup I’ve ever had and one of the best pastrami sandwiches I’ve ever had too.
Also definitely check out Han Dynasty near Alphabet City in NYC It was another restaurant I found just wandering in the streets with some of my friends.
It was also quite life-changing in terms of traditional fish and traditional Chinese food, not just the typical General Tso’s chicken. Special things like marinated cucumbers and chilies and an amazing lamb dish that is hot enough and spicy enough to melt your face off.