CEDAR RAPIDS — Andy Schumacher may not be a world renowned celebrity chef, but he’s certainly no stranger to being on television.
In 2005, the owner of Cobble Hill in downtown Cedar Rapids appeared on the first season of the Food Network’s “Next Food Network Star.” That’s when he first met Guy Fieri, who ended up winning that season and has gone on to host several shows on Food Network, including “Guy’s Grocery Games.”
Thanks to that friendship, Schumacher is making his second appearance on the Food Network, showing off his culinary skills and entertaining national audiences.
Schumacher said he and Fieri have remained friends since meeting more than a decade ago.
“We became buddies because we really gelled on the set thanks of our senses of humor,” Schumacher said. “We’ve kept in touch since then. We text every once in a while. He reached out back in February with the idea of getting the contestants from ‘Next Food Network Star’ together for a reunion show on ‘Guy’s Grocery Games.’
“I told him right away I was in.”
Each episode of “Guy’s Grocery Games” features four chefs competing in a series of challenges that take place in a fully stocked grocery store in Fieri’s hometown of Santa Rosa, California.
“We do a dish, plate it and then a panel of judges decide who wins and loses each round,” Schumacher said. “Of course, there’s lots of wacky curveballs thrown in, too.”
The chef who comes out on top is given a list of 10 items to find in the store, with the potential to win $20,000.
Schumacher flew out to California in March to film an episode.
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“It was a blast,” he said. “It was really fun for me because I had that prior experience of cooking on camera. But, of course, I’m 10 years older, have more experience, and I felt a lot more confident. Plus there was no requirement to talk to the camera while you are cooking. I made an effort to let go of the anxiety and just have fun with it.”
Schumacher said he is excited to have family and friends see the episode Sunday.
“It will be exciting for our kids to see me on the show,” he said.
While Schumacher can’t revel details of the episode, he did say it was a really good experience.
“It’s just one more thing to push attention back to Cedar Rapids and Iowa and what we are trying to do here,” he said. “I have a feeling of pride about that. There are still people who are not aware of what we do here or haven’t yet eaten at Cobble Hill and having a little bit of that on a national platform is good.”
Schumacher really enjoyed catching up with his former competitors and thought it was fitting they are still working in the food industry in one form or another.
“There are a lot of laughs and reminiscing,” he said. “This is our first time back together since the show and the level of camaraderie was great. I think they may be even putting in some old footage.
“We were all early in our careers back in 2005, but we all stayed with it in some way.”
Schumacher’s on-screen appearances won’t end after the “Guy’s Grocery Games” appearance. He is in the process of creating a YouTube channel where he can use his cooking prowess to connect and educate other food lovers.
“I like breaking out of my routine and spreading knowledge to people,” he said. “The series should be fun.”
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To add to the fun, Schumacher and his wife, Carrie, plan to open a second Cedar Rapids’ restaurant in October or November. This eatery — located in the former Chrome Horse building on the corner of Third Street SE and 12th Avenue SE in the NewBo neighborhood — is to be an “urban taco joint.”
“It will be our ethos on food but more Mexican flavors,” he said. “That is the backbone, but we’ll be exploring other dishes as well.”
Schumacher said the restaurant is to be more casual and have a lower price point than Cobble Hill, 219 Second St., SE.
“It’s always great to expose more people to something they haven’t experienced before,” he said. “It will have an edgy, younger vibe and we are pretty excited about it.”