So much of life in the military requires keeping your emotions in check. After all, losing your cool in battle can mean the difference between life and death.
But for Robert Irvine, former member of the British Royal Navy, that proved easier said than done in his new role as mentor to student chefs on Food Network’s “All-Star Academy,” which kicks off its second season Sunday (Feb. 14).
“Keeping calm was definitely interesting for me,” the 50-year-old chef, restaurateur and author admits tells Zap2it with a laugh. “I’m really good under stressful situations. You know, if you’re in the field and you’re with a group of guys and you’re doing what you do in the military, it’s very different from teaching a home cook how to cook from a platform.”
“With teaching a home cook to cook from scratch and doing the best possible,” he continues, “it’s not as simple as it sounds. There is some good talent but not a lot of time to do it. And when you’re training on this, it’s almost training on the fly. It’s training as you’re doing it and you have to pick up the skills along the way as you need it, to be able to get through the next round or do the next thing. So that was definitely interesting.”
Season 2 of the competition series picks up with Irvine and “Bizarre Foods” host Andrew Zimmern joining returnees Curtis Stone and Alex Guarnaschelli as mentors as they try to talk their student chef teammates through the steps required to make their school-themed dishes, which will be judged a rotating cast of “guest professors” that includes Richard Blais, Haylie Duff, Katie Lee, Duff Goldman and Debi Mazar.
The goal at the end of each of the eight episodes, of course, is to win the $50,000 grand prize, though there is a side objective.
“Part of the journey in this series is about growth, for the mentors and for the contestants,” Irvine says. “… And you never would think that people bond in a very short period of time like this. So I think it’s a really cool thing to watch because you see those relationships grow over a period of time. There is a lot of emotion from both the contestants and the mentors. And I’m talking emotion and passion and feistiness and fear, disappointment, sadness — all those emotions that we feel as human beings, and you’re going to see all of that in this season.”