Gary Walker (right) with fellow "Around the World in 80 Plates"… (Courtesy of Bravo )
One of three chefs with Chicago ties on Bravo's"Around the World in 80 Plates"reached the end of the road Wednesday night.
On a show of big personalities, travel agent-turned-chef Gary Walker proved himself a reliable supplier of one-liners and a steady source of entertainment for fans. The ladies of the Kappa Phi Delta sorority house at Illinois Institute of Technology, where Walker worked as a chef before filming the show, even got a shout-out when he chugged beer during a pub crawl challenge on the show's first episode filmed in London. Walker talked about his experiences on the show Thursday.
Three of the first five shows took place in countries—France, Spain and Italy—where most of the chefs didn't speak the language and you did. How'd you feel about putting your skills to the test?
I'm a Francophile, number one, and when I was studying French in college, one of the requirements was that you had to study another language for a year. So I chose Italian. I've always felt comfortable with foreign languages and had a talent or a gift for it. And going into cooking, you start learning Spanish. I felt pretty wonderful about going to Europe [on the show]. In all three countries, those languages helped me dearly. I made my mother proud and I'm sure I made my French professor proud, too.
Where did you wish you would have traveled with the cast?
I've never traveled to Asia. Even during my 10 years plus in the travel business, it was always Europe-focused, so I really was interested and looking forward to going to Asia [on the show]. That part would definitely be like, whomp-whomp. I didn't get the chance to go, but this will certainly be a vehicle for me to go there … so I'm excited for the future.
What has it been like watching yourself on TV?
It's very suspenseful. Everyone watching [with me] is just like, "Oh my god, what's happening?" I have to wear a hoodie so I can pull it halfway over my head … so I just don't jump out of my skin!
How did you feel during elimination?
For me, it was obviously a bit of a surprise to hear my name being called … you're very disappointed and a little hurt, but it's a competition and you sign up for the good and the bad. In my mind, I'm like, "Well, if I have to go home, then I'll go out with grace and style."
When we talked to you before the show aired, you had moved from Chicago to L.A. What are you up to now?
I just did a dinner with Clara [Moore] and Nick [Lacasse] from the show in St. Louis. … I am going to [my hometown] Detroit next weekend; I am going to do my own pop-up dinner in Detroit. And when I get to Colorado [to cook for a client in July and August], I'm doing a pop-up dinner with [fellow cast member] Jenna [Johansen] … and basically after Sept. 1, I'm a free agent. I may go back to L.A., I come back to Chicago, or who knows, I may be calling you from France talking to you about my next adventure.
Keep up with Gary Walker by following @chefgary on Twitter or visiting his website, cheflove.com. firstname.lastname@example.org | @redeyeeats