Earlier today, when I got Keegan Gerhard, owner of D Bar Desserts and longtime host of Food Network Challenge, on the horn, he was driving through a jungle in Puerto Rico on his way to Saborea, Puerto Rico's annual culinary extravaganza.
He was there with several other Food Network celebrities, including Claire Robinson, the current host of 5 Ingredient Fix, a Food Network series featuring recipes made with five ingredients or fewer, and now the host of Challenge, a post Gerhard has held since he joined the Food Network lineup eight years ago.
"Over the past eight years, I've been a host, a judge, the crazy weirdo guy and a commentator," explains Gerhard, who adds that the Food Network "wants Claire to make it on prime time." Women hosts, he says, "have a very difficult time making it on Food Network prime time and right now, Claire is their girl, and they want to see her succeed."
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For his part, Gerhard is taking things in stride. "I don't care," he says. "I make the same amount of money no matter what I do. We have a new set, a new format, a new host and a new role for Keegan," which, he reveals, is as a judge.
"Look, I'm a chef, after all, and I'm much more comfortable sitting on the judge's panel than I am opening and closing the show," he says. Plus, "now I get to turn in a score card."
Food Network Challenge airs Sunday night at 8 p.m.