Chef Carlos Baez is a local favorite. He has impressed diners with delicious dishes at The Spread in South Norwalk since 2013. Now, he’s taking his talents to an even grander stage: Food Network! He will compete in an episode of Beat Bobby Flay that airs Thursday February 11 at 10pm.
Baez has never met Bobby Flay before, but considers himself a fan of the popular cooking channel.
“I’ve been a big Food Network fan, so I definitely saw the show before,” he reveals. “When I watched, I put myself in the other chef’s shoes and thought about what I would do.”
It was a conversation with a regular customer from The Spread that turned Baez from spectator into competitor. She had heard about the casting call for the upcoming season and sent Baez a link. Within 2 days of submitting his name, Food Network responded. They expressed interest and asked for additional information, including a bio and application. Baez says 3-4 months passed before he heard back again. They had positive news: they wanted him on the show!
The episode was filmed in June of 2015, about 6 months ago. They planned for the episode to air the day before Valentine’s though, so they gave the illusion that that’s when the competition took place.
“It was a long day,” recalls Baez. “They sent a car. Everything started at 7:00 in the morning, but in the show it seems like nighttime.” He remembers two hours of make-up and set-up. The chefs were quarantined in separate rooms, so no one met until stepping onto the set.
“They don’t tell you anything!” he says.
Baez wound up going against a chef from Long Island. Bobby Flay presented both chefs with the same secret ingredient, and they had 20 minutes to prepare a dish. The winner from that round had the chance to challenge Bobby Flay himself in a 25 minute final round.
“It’s really tough!” Baez admits. “20 minutes is not enough time.”
“That’s the day in my life when I sweat the most,” he laughs. “I workout… I sweat more filming for 20 minutes than I do when I workout!”
Although Baez cannot disclose the winners, he does think that viewers will enjoy the episode.
“I’m really happy with the show. Everything was completely fair,” he describes. “It was a great experience. I’m confident with my food and what I made on the show.”
Even though the episode is wrapped, Baez has a great deal to look forward to in the future. He and the team from The Spread are opening a second restaurant, El Segundo.
“Everyone is excited to see what the menu is going to look like,” he shares. Exact dishes are not confirmed, but Baez promises it will feature delicious dishes from around the world. From Korean to Vietnamese to Mexican to Venezuelan to French, nothing is off limits.
More importantly, Baez cherishes his role as a father.
“Every move I make, I do for my kids,” he states sincerely.
After watching her father in the kitchen, his daughter has aspirations to become a chef! Serving as a role model and watching her passion develop fills Baez with joy. Who knows… perhaps there will be a father-daughter competition on Food Network someday!
Be sure to tune into the Food Network at 10pm on Thursday February 11. You can also watch at The Spread, where they will host a viewing party.