What is your unique â€œCulinary Point of Viewâ€?
I’ve taught a few guys this trick and they really have taken it to heart, but the, “Just add one ingredient,” theory works really well when talking to the bachelor set. Food is more of an afterthought to most single guys, but if you take recipes directly from the box and just add a thoughtful produce, meat, or dairy item, you can make something extraordinary out of something quite ordinary.
Why do you want your own Food Network show? Example: Have something to share, for your family, to be famousâ€¦Why would it be different from any show currently on the air?
I love to learn new things and share my story. Right now, I feel that there are a lot of teachers on the Food Network but not enough learners. People don’t want to be taught the whole day; sometimes it’s a comfort to them to know that the host is just as amazed and interested in the food creation as they are.
Also, there isn’t a lot of programming on the network that twentysomething guys can really get into. I’ll be your rough-around-the-edges everyman host who learns about food theory and technique from teachers at culinary institutes and expert local chefs around the country. They’ll show me how to do things as simple as cutting a tomato to complex food theory like tasting/pairing wines and sous-vide (well, this might be too much for the audience). I learned how to make an easy, no-break hollandaise from a YouTube video earlier this year and made my mom lobster benedict for her birthday breakfast; she was shocked. I want to show people that they can pick up skills quickly by understanding basic techniques and a few overarching food theories that I boil down to bullet points.
I’ve done some research, and I don’t think that any shows cover the “I just got laid off so I’m going to buy an RV, have adventures, live my passion, and see if I can make it” angle. That’d be an apropos subject for the economic downturn. I’d like to keep my 1980s RV – I think it makes me more accessible as a host.
Describe your personality as accurately and truthfully as you can. How would your friends describe you? How would your toughest critics describe you?
As a camera personality, I’m a cross between Adam Gertler, Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs), and Dave Attell (Insomniac). Enthusiasm and deadpan humor that occasionally crosses the line. The CEO of a company I worked at said of me, “I can take a lion and make it more like a lamb, but I can’t make a lion from a lamb.” I think that quote speaks delicately about the type of guy I am. A lot of my friends have said that they just like to watch the Hagan show as my life unfolds. My toughest critics comment that I know no boundaries and it gets me into trouble; I like to imagine that I take that in stride.
What do you like most about yourself? What do you like least?
That I’m pretty much unfazed by anything that comes my way. I love my life and wouldn’t change a thing about it. Even thinking about submitting this application, it won’t change how happy I am with my life if I’m selected for the show. This year, at a Buddhist retreat, I learned that everything is temporary and it’s all just part of the game. Understanding that helps me take good and bad news at an even keel. The thing I am working on the hardest to change right now would be my focus. I get so excited about the creative side of the work that it’s easy to forget I eventually need to generate a sustainable income.
How do you react to criticism?
I know that any time that someone gives criticism, advice, or suggestions that they’re doing it because they believe that an adjustment would beneft me. It may not be the right path to take, or it may be just what I need to hear at the time, and I need to decide which. I know that “This food sucks and the service is @#$% terrible!” really means, “Hey, there’s a few things I think you could work on to make the patrons’ experience better.” If you mean critics, I love haters! If you’ve never heard comedian Katt Williams’ bit on getting more haters, Google it and you’ll see what I am talking about. Donald Trump famously stated that, “There’s no such thing as bad press,” and I live by that credo.
What is your favorite topic of conversation at a dinner party? What topics are off limits?
Having a favorite topic of conversation seems as alien to me as having a favorite beer. The’re all good depending on the circumstance. I am most interested in talking about what excites the other person in the conversation the most. I know my opinions on things, so it’s more fun to see what gets other people turned on and to find out if they have some information that makes me reconsider my beliefs. As far as off limit-topics, I like to see where the other people’s limits are since I have none. Healthcare, same-sex marriage, abortion, killing infidels . . . who cares? It’s all just talk.
Please describe any special interests, hobbies, group affiliations or other talents we should know about:
I love to travel. I love learning new languages (even though I can only say I know one fluently), I love to meet new people, I love going to restaurants, more than anything else, I’d rather spend my entertainment dollars eating fine food, I love discovering new music, I love putting myself out there for people to see, I love showing people new things, I love finding out what makes people tick, I love going on adventures, and I can run wicked fast.
What about your background would make you a unique finalist on The Next Food Network Star?
I am a middle-class white male from an affluent town with a decent education who loves his mom, sports, girls, and meeting new people. It’d be easy to claim that I have had no adversity in my life, but in the last year, people have told me more than I can remember, “Everything seems to work out for you, man.” It’s a way of thinking and being, not a set of circumstances.
On the flipside, I’m not Johnny Whitebread suburbanite. I’ve forsaken worldly posessions (save a laptop and a camera; our modern day pen and paper) and dedicated my life to food and travel. Most people respond to that with, “I wish I could do that; it’s exactly what I would do if I just didn’t have. . .” and then they rattle off any number of excuses, but there’s always more than one.
What are your greatest accomplishments? (Both food related and non-food related).
I started a business that had people all over DC, Chicago, and Austin stalking each other with waterguns. It went from 0 to 20,000 hits on the site in a month.
I took a solo motorcycle tour through Central America and avoided a stabbing.
I taught English in China in 2002 and was told by a student “You’re killing our spirit for learning,” when I offered a mid-term teacher evaluation (I fixed that).
I made $23,000 my first month in a sales job when I got out of college.
The most important of them all; I have many friends who would do anything for me without question, and have many friends whom I would do the same for.
What kind of role do you generally play in groups?
You open a restaurant for one of two reasons, to present an idea to people you feel needs presenting, or to be the guy who presents the idea. I feel as if I am more of an idea guy than the person who needs the spotlight. I’d rather be the third name in the cast of a great idea than the first name on one that bombs. Of course, I have great ideas, believe in my ideas, and love to be the mastermind, and who says you can’t have it all?
Please describe the most stressful time in your life and how you reacted to it.
The last instance I can remember feeling stressed was submitting college applications my senior year of high school. You know how they all have to be postmarked by December 31st or some day around then . . . I did everything short of paying the postmaster off to get those out, and for every one it was the same thing. I don’t think I learned my lesson, I just don’t get so worked up about things any more.
What is your primary motivation for being on the show? What is your secondary motivation?
#1. It’s fun to say I did it. #2. I’m a food personality anyway, so why not have a bigger audience? Those answers seem kind of weak, but I don’t have to be on the Next Food Network Star to become the person I want to be. Even if I am picked, I’ll be praying to God that being on the show doesn’t define my life like a high school quarterback who never leaves his hometown.