Earlier today, when I got Keegan Gerhard, owner ofD Bar Desserts
and longtime host ofFood 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.
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"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."
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.