The Grand Strand is without a doubt one of the most popular beach destinations on the East Coast. From Little River to Georgetown, this part of the coast is famous for its entertainment, shopping, and seasonal influx of visitors, both in the summer and winter.
There is a chef along the Grand Strand who wishes to add food to that list.
Scatori’s own Executive Chef Kevin Levine is making his debut on the Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” this Easter Sunday. Levine already has quite a following in the area and now with an appearance on a nationally broadcasted show, no doubt his popularity will continue to grow, all while putting Myrtle Beach on the culinary map.
“Cutthroat Kitchen” is a popular show on the Food Network where chefs from around the country compete against each other in a most unusual way. Not only are they challenged by what they have to make, but each chef on the show is given $25,000 at the beginning of the episode.
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They can then use that money to auction against each other, and attempt to “sabotage” their competitor’s kitchens.
There are three fast-paced rounds of this, with a competitor eliminated in each round before the two remaining chefs face off in the last round. The winner is determined in that final round and can go home with however much money remains in their “sabotage” account.
For the past five years, Levine has submitted numerous applications to the Food Network, hoping to be chosen for a place on one of the many cooking shows. Beginning roughly two years ago, he was regularly called back to participate in Skype interviews, which was a definite step closer but he felt the moving was still slow.
Last May, another application was sent in, although by this time Levine was hardly hopeful for anything different to happen. Even when another Skype interview was settled in June, with the same interviewer he’d had for at least two years, Levine kept himself from getting too excited.
So when Levine at long last received a call back a few weeks later, he was ecstatic. He would finally be able to showcase his talent and love of cooking.
Food Network flew Levine and his wife, Stephanie, to Los Angeles in August, where they stayed at The Standard Hotel located in downtown. This hotel is the go-to for the Food Network, so the place was filled with like-minded people working with the company. Levine also managed to see a few famous faces on the popular rooftop restaurant, like Tony Hawk.
Before he could begin filming, Levine went through an extensive contract tocover the basics of being on a television show, and to make sure he understood the strict guidelines all the chefs were being held to. Levine was not allowed to discuss the show at all until there was an actual airdate.
After filming was completed, Levine had to go back to waiting. Close to six months later, the Food Network finally announced when the episode was to air. Naturally, Levine immediately went to his social media sites to announce the big news.
However, even then he remained contractually obligated to not discuss what happened on the show, let alone who won. If he, or any of the other chefs he competed against, were to leak any information, the episode wouldn’t be allowed to air. With a laugh, he said we would just “have to wait and see.”
He was able to discuss, a little vaguely, what it was like to be on the show.
“Between timing and sabotages, you’ve got to be quick on your game. It’s really very stressful,” Levine said, though he couldn’t stop from smiling.
“It’s not just cooking,” he said. “It’s a mind game. You’ve got to be mentally ready to take anything on. ‘Cutthroat Kitchen’ is really not like your other cooking competitions. But you’ve gotta have fun with it.”
Of course, being a competition and a fast-paced one at that, tense feelings between the competitors would be understandable. But Levine laughed and shook his head, his hands just as expressive as his face, “When I first met [the other chefs], I was like, ‘Oh my god! I’m actually here!’”
Levine continued describing the general air of excitement before filming began, which is when the tone turned serious. “We’re all there to have fun, and we were all excited to be on Food Network. But once you get to the actual action…well, it is a competition.”
Though he couldn’t mention any of the competitors by name, he did admit, “Yea, friendships definitely grew. They were all really cool.” Levine also mentioned remaining in contact with a few through social media. There may have been a visit or two from these mystery competitors to Scatori’s, yet no one could know.
When going on to talk about what could come in the future, despite all the other projects Levine is working on like the Hot Bloxx, he didn’t appear tired in the least and was ready for more challenges. The Scatori’s chef is especially focused on applying for more chances to be on the Food Network, and he went on to list some of the most popular shows like “Chopped,” “Guys Groceries Games,” “Beat Bobby Flay,” and even “Iron Chef.”
Levine has even been approached already by other producers from the Food Network to be on other shows. Unfortunately, Levine has to wait until after the episode with his “debut” airs before he is allowed to sign up with another show.
Levine expressed slight frustration at this, despite understanding the necessity. But the producers of the different shows, a pretty close group, do all know Levine now. And once the episode airs, he’ll be rushing his applications back out, even adding a confident, “Oh yea, I’m ready for ‘Iron Chef.’”
When asked how Scatori’s felt about everything Levine was doing, the enthusiastic cook beamed like a proud father. Everyone at the restaurant is just as excited as Levine himself for what he’s accomplished and all the projects he continues to give energy to. However, it turned out Levine’s enthusiasm wasn’t just about the work he’s done, but also about how successful the Italian restaurant continues to be.
“It’s great. I’m not the owner, but I’m still part of the family,” Levine said without hesitation when discussing how all his projects are not just for him, but to promote Scatori’s. “And we use social media, we use the cutting boards, and now we use the Food Network all to help Scatori’s grow.”
With an increasingly popular Instagram account followed by food lovers nationwide and word growing where the Hot Bloxx are coming from, Levine expressed his desire to improve Myrtle Beach’s reputation when it comes to the culinary arts.
“People know we’re based out of Myrtle Beach,” he said, while also conveying how he’d like for more chefs and cooks from the area to have the opportunity he has.
Levine thought keeping the family small-knit would be for the best to ensure its continued success. “Fresh, same recipes, and same consistency. Never sacrifice quality. [Scatori’s] is good the way it is.”
So for now, the popular chef is focused on taking each day with strides and always looking to improve himself and help his family. With his debut on the Food Network, the whole Scatori’s team is throwing a viewing party on Easter Sunday, when normally it would have been closed.
The viewing party will begin at 9 p.m., an hour before the episode is scheduled to air. This little celebration is open to the public and Scatori’s will have a cash bar and free appetizers available.
To see how a local chef fares on “Cutthroat Kitchen,” tune in to the Food Network at 10 p.m. on Sunday.