Ambler restaurateur Chad Rosenthal hits the little screen Sunday, June 2 at 9 p.m., gunning for his own TV show on season nine of The Next Food Network Star, the launching pad for Guy Fieri, Melissa d'Arabian and Aaron McCargo Jr.
The 12 episodes conclude Aug. 11, with the winner decided by an audience vote.
Rosenthal, 37, who previously operated Rosey's BBQ in Jenkintown and Ambler, is preparing to open The Lucky Well on Butler Avenue in Ambler this summer. His younger brother, Reid, got a taste of reality fame on The Bachelorette and its spin-off Bachelor Pad. There's a third Rosenthal brother, Brett, who has no TV aspiration. Their parents - Rhonda and Larry - are Realtors in Montgomery County.
Among the coaches who divvy up the 12 contestants - Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis - Rosenthal said he and Flay clicked best - "without question. Alton is a genius of food and he's very scientific. I don't cook scientifically at all. I'm an experimenter."
In fact, he never went to culinary school. "I trained myself. My dad bought me an Easy-Bake Oven when I was 5. My parents are not cooks. I was the house cook in the frat house in college [Ohio State]. As I got older, I started reading cookbooks."
The NFNS process, he explained, was grueling. "A thousand people go out for it, and there are several ways to do it, including open casting calls." He did an open call here and was sent to Atlanta to do an audition. He was chosen as an alternate for that season. The call came for season nine just as he was closing the Rosey's in Ambler last October.
What does it take to do well on the show? "You don't have to be the best cook or chef. You need on-camera presence. It's not Top Chef. It's Food Network Star - a combination. You have to be the whole package."
(He's had no on-camera training other than a stint when he was 12 or so. He and Brett Simon, a friend who lived down the street in Fort Washington, produced a show called Cayenne Kitchen on camcorders.)
If he wins, he would like to host a BBQ show. "But not like Pitmasters or those traveling shows where they talk about famous spots. Mine would be seeing people who have the love and passion and never get super famous or super rich. Outside their area, no one knows them."