As seen on TV

‘Kitchen Casino’ host Bill Rancic: I’m not a big gambler

 

Bill Rancic is a little worried. Nothing serious, just normal new-dad concerns. Son Duke, who turns 2 in August, can’t swim yet.

“I see other parents’ [social media] posts and these kids who are just a little older than my son who are swimming like fish and I think, ‘What are we doing wrong?’ ” says Rancic, who is married to E! anchor Giuliana Rancic. “I feel like a bad parent.”

You’d expect such a reaction from a such a big-time achiever as Rancic, who impressed the almighty Donald Trump to win the first season of The Apprentice.

If Duke is anything like his father, he’ll be doing the backstroke in no time.

The reality star ( Giuliana & Bill), motivational speaker and restaurateur (RPM Italian) got his first paying gig at the age of 10.

“My parents were out of town and sent me to stay at my grandma’s house. That’s where I learned how to make pancakes,” recounts the Chicago native. “I served them to all the old ladies who lived on her block. After the meal, they each left a $5 bill next to their plates. I thought, ‘Hey, I’m onto something here.’ 

More foodie stuff for Rancic, who says he does “all the cooking” in his household: Food Network’s Kitchen Casino, debuting at 9 p.m. Monday. Think of it as Chopped meets The World Series of Poker.

In other words, the stakes are high and the pressure is on.

“People come to play,” says Rancic. “They don’t like going home!”

In each episode, four competitors vie for $30,000 in three casino-themed cooking challenges in kitchen stations that spin like a roulette wheel. The trick is to pick up the meal the other contestant left off with mystery ingredients.

“What makes it unique is that real strategy is involved,” explains Rancic. “A cook can sabotage someone else’s dish, but it may come back to haunt him or her.”

The competitors come from all walks of life.

“You’ll see a classically trained chef with amazing pedigrees going against a woman who taught herself how to cook because her husband got laid off, and she’s got a restaurant in a little strip mall. It’s anybody’s game.”

As for the host, you won’t see him hanging out on The Strip in Las Vegas tangling with Lady Luck.

“No, my use is strictly recreational. If I gamble, I go for the lowest end blackjack or slots. It’s because I don’t like to lose!”

Madeleine Marr

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