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Chef Graham Elliot Talks Covert Kitchens

by Brian Dermody   October 14, 2013 at 12:00AM  |  Views: 4,397

On Spike's new special "Covert Kitchens", Chef Graham Elliot gives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to a talented chef. He gets 36 hours and $3600 to come up with a pop-up restaurant from scratch. If that's not tough enough, he's got to do it in a place that doesn't have anything approaching a kitchen setup. And he's got to show what he's got to three of the biggest names in the Los Angeles food scene. It's as intense a job interview as could be.

We spoke with Chef Graham Elliot to get a little background into the idea of the covert kitchen.

Spike: How did the trend of covert kitchens come about?

Chef Graham Elliot: They were born out of necessity due to the economic reality of the restaurant business. Not everyone can spend a million dollars on a brick and mortar establishment, so to be able to do a temporary restaurant under the radar is a fun way to serve your food to your guests.


Spike: In the first episode, you take the contestant to set up in an auto body shop. In what other kinds of places do these things go down?

Chef Graham Elliot: Tattoo parlors, abandoned rail road cars, empty lofts...anywhere. That's the beauty of it!

Spike: Can you tell us about the first time you experienced someone else's covert kitchen project?

Chef Graham Elliot: I had a chance to experience Ludo Lefebvre's "Ludo's Bites" where he did an amazing multi course tasting menu. He was definitely a trendsetter in the pop up genre.

Spike: What about running one yourself? What kind of place did you set up in and how did it go?

Chef Graham Elliot: We did one at Lollapalooza in Chicago where we encountered everything from torrential rains soaking our kitchen to serving 3x the amount of people we thought we would, without a heads up. As a chef, you have to take those challenges and run with them!

Spike: What's the craziest thing you've ever seen a chef do to pull off a covert kitchen project?

Chef Graham Elliot: As you'll see in the upcoming show, cooking on a revved up engine of a classic Camaro is pretty bad ass.

Spike: Can you tell us about a big hit you've sampled while dining in a covert kitchen experience? Or a particular challenge you face when you're testing yourself in this way? 

Chef Graham Elliot: It's hard to pick out a stand out dish, but the one issue you encounter a lot is serving the food at the right temperature, whether it's supposed to be hot or cold.

Spike:What can you tell us about the chef you chose for the first episode?

Chef Graham Elliot: He's a talented guy that has been down on his luck who I feel deserves the chance to show off his skills. At this point in his culinary life, he's at a crossroad and doing a covert kitchen gives him a chance to choose his next steps.

Spike: Is there someone you want to see try a covert kitchen?

Chef Graham Elliot: Anyone who has a vision and a goal to open their own place, deserves a shot.

Spike: What have you learned working on this project that you've been able to apply in your day-to-day work?

Chef Graham Elliot: To be successful the most important thing is to have a cohesive team; regardless of how big or small.

Spike: Is there anything else you want Spike viewers to know about "Covert Kitchens"?

Chef Graham Elliot: Ill be live tweeting during the episode, so if you have any questions or comments, Hit me up: @grahamelliot.

Covert Kitchens premieres October 20, 11/10c on Spike!


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