Delaware’s food fans have a new reason to subscribe to Netflix.
Local chef Robbie Jester is one of 11 contestants on “Pressure Cooker,” a reality competition starting on Friday, Jan. 6.
To celebrate his TV appearance, Jester and friends are throwing a premier party at Bellefonte Brewing Co.’s North Wilmington location starting at 6 p.m. The public is invited, but Jester isn’t allowed to comment until after the show airs.
Like “Top Chef” on Bravo and “Hell’s Kitchen,” the chefs on “Pressure Cooker” live together and compete against each other. But unlike those shows, there’s a “Survivor”-like element — the contestants judge each other.
The prize is a cool $100,000, and winning requires skill and a successful strategy incorporating alliances.
A good bet
Jester has an advantage, given he’s no stranger to reality cooking competitions.
The Culinary Institute of America graduate beat celebrity chef Bobby Flay with his shrimp scampi dish on the Food Network program “Beat Bobby Flay.”
He also competed on “Guy’s Grocery Games” — twice. He lost on his first appearance but returned for the show’s Redemption competition, which he won.
Although in his late 30s, Jester has the chops to win.
He grew up working in his father’s restaurant, and by age 12, he was helping out at Harbor House, his family’s Worton, Maryland, restaurant. Three years later, he was running the line.
Jester has an impressive resume that includes positions at Toscana, the Hotel du Pont, Stone Balloon and Limestone BBQ + Bourbon.
Today, he owns Pizzeria Mariana in Newark and In Jest Events, a private chef and event company.
Carrying the torch
Jester is the most recent area chef to star on a cooking show. Recently, Dru Tevis, a Rehoboth pastry chef, won Holiday Baking Championship on the Food Network.
The channel is also home to “Chopped,” and Reuben Dhanawade competed on a version with a sous chef job as the prize. He didn’t win, but he still got a job. In 2023, Dhanawade is moving to Nashville to work for judge Maneet Chauhan.
Hari Cameron, also of Rehoboth, was in the finale of “Snack vs. Chef” on Netflix, and Jesus Gordiany of Benvenuto in Milford appeared on the most recent season of “Hell’s Kitchen” on Fox.
RELATED STORY: Dru Tevis takes holiday baking crown
In the trailers, the action on “Pressure Cooker” lives up to the name.
“What does it take to get to the top of the culinary industry?” the announcer asks.
Skill, a thick skin, resourcefulness and leadership are some of the attributes that the contestants list in quick succession.
Emotions run high. In one scene, Jester angrily talks about a fellow chef’s raw seafood.
In another, the troubled Delaware chef covers his eyes, lamenting, “That’s a stone-cold way to go home.”
Is he talking about himself? Or a colleague? Tune in to find out if our First State chef can stand the heat.
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