Bret Hauser’s survival strategy so far is working. The Hell’s Kitchen contestant has been able to keep judge Gordon Ramsay from heaping on the abuse by staying under the radar, doing what he does best: cook.
But in Tuesday night’s episode a change is a-comin’. “It gets exciting,” promises Hauser, who lives in Fort Lauderdale. “It seems I may have a voice after all, and I may have to get a few things off my chest.”
In the first three episodes of season 14, all has gone pretty smoothly, as in Hauser wasn’t called one of Ramsay’s favorite insults, a “donkey.”
The North Miami Beach native has great respect for the Scottish chef/restaurateur and is absolutely delighted with his current station, even if he doesn’t win the grand prize of running his own restaurant.
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“This experience has been phenomenal, life changing,” Hauser says. “I would never have expected growing up to be on national television doing something that I love to do. I’m never at a loss for words, but I almost was when they picked me.”
Hauser sees parallels between himself and the hotheaded host.
“I am cool, calm and collected and roll with the punches, but I can get aggressive. Let me use a better word: passionate,” says Hauser, laughing. “I took Gordon’s attitude with a grain of salt. All I could do was absorb the information he was trying to give me. When he yells there’s probably a good reason for it.”
Hauser is definitely a fan of the Kitchen Nightmares star, who has over the years reduced dozens of cheftestants and business owners to tears.
“Just watching him flow in the kitchen is like none other. I’m six foot five, 200 pounds plus, by no means a little guy — and he isn’t he either — but his aura is like 10 feet tall and it glows orange and yellow,” Hauser gushes. “It’s amazing. It’s like he doesn’t even walk, he glides like he’s elevated three inches off the ground. Seeing him perform it’s like ridiculous. You’re watching someone who really knows what the hell he’s doing.”
These days Hauser, a North Miami Beach High grad who attended the Florida Culinary Institute, is a personal chef with a packed resume, with stops at such esteemed restaurants as Brio Tuscan Grille, Todd English’s Da Campo Osteria and Max’s Social House in Delray Beach. His latest business should be rolling onto South Florida streets by May 1. Called The Pizza Bagel Food Truck, it will mix his Jewish and Italian heritage.
“We have a very authentic Italian menu with a twist,” Hauser explains. “I throw in some corned beef, brisket, matzoh balls, fish dishes and whatnot. I hope I can cater to the kosher crowd and the everyday crowd.”
Hauser’s interest in food started early. The reality star’s first job? Flipping pizzas as a teen at Sbarro at Aventura Mall (“I rode my bike over”).
His family also had a passion for cooking.
“I was always in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother. And my father was a phenomenal home cook. He even took classes with his bachelor buddies before he married my mom.”
As for where Hauser grabs grub when he’s not under fire on a Fox set?
“I do have a few very specific stops,” he says. “A shout-out to The Foxy Brown [American bistro] in Fort Lauderdale. It’s a new local joint with no more than 60 seats in the place. They’re doing some great things. ”