Philly native Kevin Cooper talks latest Food Network win

Kevin Cooper
Kevin Cooper recently won ‘Guy’s Chance of a Lifetime.’
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Being crowned a Food Network champion takes a few ingredients: passion, skill and of course, hard work. But, what it takes to become not just one or two, but a three time Food Network champion takes those few simple ingredients, and turns them into a recipe of success.

For Kevin Cooper, also known around Philadelphia and beyond as Chef Steek, his love for food through all facets of his life helped him secure a spot on ‘Cooks vs. Cons,’ ‘Guy’s Grocery Games,’ and his latest stint on TV, ‘Guy’s Chance of a Lifetime.’ And the Philly native won all three competitions while showcasing his soulful side to global cuisine.
The United States Army Veteran spent his time honing his craft, from crafting peanut butter cookies at the age of 9, to attending the J & A Institute of Culinary Arts in South Philadelphia—and it was there that he graduated with a degree in specialized technology and restaurant management.
Chef Steek also created Succulent Imagination, a catering company making “restaurant quality meals with every day ingredients” But, the local company offers a lot more from classes, to booking opportunities with a personal chef and recipes.
On top of his three wins, Cooper has competed on other shows, such as Food Network Canada’s ‘Fire Master’s,’ and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down fresh off of his success.
To chat more about what it took to keep the heat in the kitchen, Cooper sat down with Metro.
Kevin Cooper
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First, let’s talk about your history in the world of food. Can you briefly tell me what got you started and what has led you up to this point?

I started cooking when I was nine years old making peanut butter cookies, [and] I worked a few food service jobs before joining the Army—it’s crazy that my commander at my last active duty station allowed me to work at Outback Steakhouse during off duty hours. After that,  I continued to pursue my career goals by getting my culinary degree, dabbling in a few restaurant externships and starting my own catering company.

What flavors, combinations or ingredients influence your cooking the most, would you say? 

 I’m a fan of food culture in general, I love food from all over the world. My whole food concept is putting a soulful twist on world wide cuisine. 

You’ve been on the Food Network a few times for competition shows, what got you started in that world in the first place? What was your experience like, especially with your win on ‘Cooks vs Cons’?  

 I always watched Food Network shows, [and] I saw a ad for ‘Beat Bobby Flay’ and decided to send in a application. I knew I was probably biting off more than I could chew with ‘Beat Bobby Flay,’ however, the producers reached out and asked me if I was interested in competing on ‘Cooks vs Cons.’ It was definitely a exciting experience. 

 Now, why did you want to compete on ‘Guy’s Chance of a Lifetime’?

Initially, I didn’t know exactly what I was applying for. I was casting for another show and decided to drop it once I got the call for  ‘Guy’s Chance of A Lifetime.’ Something just felt right about [the show]….It felt like a magnet was pulling me towards this opportunity.

What was your day-to-day like on the show?  

Everyday was different. There were times that were fun, times of difficulty, times of happiness, times of sadness. I’ve probably experienced every human emotion during the show. 

Kevin Cooper
Provided

What’s in the future for you?

Out of all the things I would love to do… only God really knows the future. I will continue to work hard, love people, remain optimistic, and continue to be grateful for all opportunities that come my way.  There’s only one way to go, and that’s up. 

To learn more about chef Kevin Cooper, visit succulentimagination.com

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