Sunday, April 01, 2001

Diner's Journal

Ruby's chef competes on Food Network

By Polly Campbell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        If you've been following local nice-guy competitors Rodger Bingham on Survivor and, earlier, Kate Pahls on The Mole, now you can follow another favorite son during a cutthroat competition on national (cable) television.

        Jimmy Gibson, executive chef of Jeff Ruby's restaurants, will appear on four episodes of the Food Network's show Ready. . . Set. . . Cook! which will be shown over the next four weeks. The shows were taped in New York last fall.

        During the programs, each of two chefs is given a basket of ingredients, an assistant from the audience and 18 minutes with which to create several dishes — sort of a mini-Iron Chef show. The winner is selected by audience applause and a smaller panel of three who taste the creations.

        Mr. Gibson competes in all four shows with Shirley Fong-Torres, a chef and cookbook writer from San Francisco. One show was the most expensive show the series had ever done, with luxury ingredients like truffles among the ingredients, he says.

        “You really get the adrenaline flowing, though it's kind of stressful, too,” Mr. Gibson says of his experience. “You don't have much time, and you really want to win. You're miked up and talking while you cook, plus they keep telling you to keep it PG.”

        The shows will broadcast at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 11 and 19 and May 1. Then they will enter the Food Network rotation.

        Meanwhile, Mr. Gibson is busy getting the new Ruby restaurant, Carlo and Johnny's, ready for a June opening. The old Charley's Oyster Bar and Grill in Montgomery has been gutted and expanded. A replica of a Venetian gondola has arrived, to be set up as the raw bar. Mr. Gibson is planning a garden out back and contemplating different themes, menus and decors for each of three dining rooms.



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- Ruby's chef competes on Food Network