Exclusive interview with Fire Masters Judge and former Hell’s Kitchen Chef, Andy Husbands

SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, TENERIFE ISLAND, SPAIN - 2020/02/23: Different kind of sausages, steaks and pepper are displayed on a big barbecue. (Photo by Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty Images)
SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, TENERIFE ISLAND, SPAIN - 2020/02/23: Different kind of sausages, steaks and pepper are displayed on a big barbecue. (Photo by Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty Images) /
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DM for Guilty Eats: Covid-19 hit everybody hard. I feel that Covid-19 hit the restaurant industry just as hard as other industries, if not more. What advice do you have for line cooks, chefs facing a post Covid-19 world, and of course for the areas that are still suffering high numbers?

"Chef Andy Husbands: “Our strategy, we sat down and we had to look at what was important to us and from the very beginning it was out HR. Our people. That was what was most important. So we focused on them. That meant unfortunately during the pandemic, losing money for some, and it meant building a strong team and really valuing that human part of it; that’s helped us retain a very good crew, and when other people were shutting down, we were out there hustling. “I know I’m fortunate that I have a cuisine, I’ve built a brand that is built to go, a valued brand. My suggestion is be flexible, be consistent with prices…it’s a challenge. But restaurant people are good with that anyway."

DM for Guilty Eats: Chef, can you tell us about your cookbooks?

"Chef Andy Husbands: “I’ve written six books, I believe one is not in print any more (The Fearless Chef: Innovative Recipes from the Edge of American Cuisine). It did good. My bestseller is called Pitmaster, and it’s just a phenomenal book, really about great BBQ from around the country; Wicked Good Barbeque written with Chris Hart—this book and that book co-written with Chris Hart—and how we won the world championships in BBQ in 2009, becoming the first non-southerners to win the world championships. I do want to point out that I’m not the lead Pitmaster on our team; it is Chris Hart. It is important that he gets his props. “My latest book is Backyard BBQ. The only problem with that book is if anybody wants advice: Don’t release a book about large party gatherings during the pandemic (laughs good-naturedly). But no, it’s a good book and is selling well."

You can also find these books here: Amazon

DM for Guilty Eats: And Andy, can you tell us a little bit about Fire Masters?

"Chef Andy Husbands: “I’m a guest judge on Fire Masters. We tape up there in Canada. You Canadians are the nicest people ever. And that’s what I love about that show. It’s about real cooking. There’s no stupid weird ingredients, usually, every now and then you see something like ‘that’s interesting.’ “Everyone on that show is a good cook; there’s no one there that should ever be embarrassed about not winning, they’re really good cooks, and they really make everybody feel special…even if they don’t win, everybody’s really happy, somewhat like The British Baking Show. Of course you don’t want to lose, but it’s a great show. Unfortunately I didn’t tape this year because of the Covid-19 restrictions and quarantine rules, but I’ve done two seasons of that and hopefully I’ll be on soon. It can be found on the Cooking Channel or the Canadian Food Network… in America as well. “It’s a great show. In fact, if you have cooks that read this, try out for it…you can win $10,000! It’s a great show to be on. And they don’t screw with you. One of the things I told you, I didn’t like about Hell’s Kitchen, was the liars, they would do things like switch your salt for your sugar. You know, you worked in a kitchen, right? You know you have a two cup of salt, right behind you? “Well that would turn into sugar …or you know how he’s like; ‘the stove’s not even on!’…It’s a French flattop, half an inch…you know that in a kitchen they turn it on in the morning and at night they turn it off, but when we would step out for break, they would turn it off, you wouldn’t notice because it would be so hot, but then come service, ‘oh your stove is not even on!’ “Things like that. I didn’t enjoy the trickery, the lying; they would tell you one thing and do another thing, and I know it’s part of the show, I know I should have been smarter about it at the time, but I didn’t really care for it. To me it’s not real cooking. Cooking is about passion, and love and love for the people you work with, right? “Being successful as a team. There’s nothing better than a Saturday night, you’re calling tickets, and everybody’s just grooving together like the best concert you’ve ever seen, and at the end of the night, everybody’s like ‘wow that went by fast,’ and ‘that was just an amazing night.’ That’s what cooking is about. Feeding people, treating people with respect; not screaming and yelling; that’s not what it’s about.”"

“Cooking is about passion…”

Well, Chef Andy Husbands’ passion showed through as I spoke to him, and his accolades speak for themselves, but we reiterate them here, and his success in the business proves that not getting a black jacket, or perhaps going home a tad too soon, doesn’t mean anything in the end.

In the end, it’s what you do when you fall that counts…and Chef Andy Husbands came up on top in the end. In the end, he made his very own black jacket, and it suits him just fine. Thank you, Chef. It was an honor to speak to you.

Next. 10 of the greatest Olive Garden menu items of all-time. dark

If you haven’t seen Fire Masters, check it out. And check out Chef Husbands’ books and try the recipes out and let us know how they go.