By Marene Gustin
We can tell you Kevin Naderi, chef/owner of Roost, will appear Thursday, July 28, at 9 p.m. on the Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay! We just can’t tell you how it turns out.
But this isn’t Naderi’s first rodeo on the Food Network. He was a finalist on season two of the Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games back in 2014.
“Once you get into their casting pool they send you stuff from time to time,” Naderi says. “When I read about the Bobby Flay show I applied and they called me pretty quick.”
This week’s season nine episode is titled “Stop, Drop and Roll,” which begs the question did something catch fire?
“Ha, ha! No,” the chef laughs. “If you were guessing it might have something to do with a roll but I’m not allowed to really say.”
In fact, at the time we talked with Naderi he didn’t even know the title.
Special guests this week will be Geoffrey Zakarian and Donny Deutsch and the judges are Maneet Chauhan, Franklin Becker and Dorothy Cann Hamilton. But Naderi won’t immediately be pairing off against Bobby Flay. Not yet. He first battles Polish/Italian chef Mark Vecchitto; the winner will then battle Bobby in the episode’s second round.
“Compared to the Guy Fieri show,” he says, “this was a real class act. They put us up in a nice hotel, sent drivers for us and the studio was top notch with a live audience.”
Naderi also said he enjoyed meeting Flay.
“He’s pretty amazing,” Naderi says. “He shows up at the set, shoots episodes all day and then goes to one of his restaurants and works until midnight.”
The day of the shooting was also Flay’s birthday and Naderi says the crew brought out a big birthday cake for him and they all celebrated.
Naderi is pretty impressive himself. He gained staging (a cooking apprenticeship) at Picholine in New York City and Madrona Manor in Napa and in Houston has worked at Brennan’s, Haven and Soma before opening his own restaurant, Roost, in 2011 at the age of 26.
The little 50-seat eatery on Fairview Street has an eclectic décor with old shutters on the walls, light fixtures made from gutter drains and a card holder at the front counter made of wine corks. It’s opened Monday through Saturday for happy hour and dinner and Naderi draws on world influences such as the American South, Asia, the Middle East and his own Persian ancestry for his ever changing menu. Roost offers beer, wine and sake to drink. In the five years since it opened, Naderi has expanded to build a wine bar in what was an upstairs apartment, he says it’s great to have more space for the mostly regulars who come here weekly.
About fifty percent of the menu ingredients are from local producers — Houston Dairymaids, 44 Farms, Slow Dough Bread and Cloud 10 Creamery — and all the relishes are made in house.
The current summer menu makes use of lighter dishes such as ceviches and refreshing salads. Although you might also find a steak frites on the table.
So the chef has been busy lately, but come on, wasn’t it hard to keep the secret of the show for six months?
“Of course!” he says. “But they make you sign a lot of a lot of stuff and it’s kind of scary.”
But that’s probably the point; show runners don’t want anyone letting the cat out of the bag before the episode airs.
So did Naderi win? Tune in Thursday to find out!
Watch Kevin Naderi on Beat Bobby Flay! July 28 at 9 p.m. Central on the Food Network (check local guide). A watch party will be held Thursday, July 28, from 7 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. at 8th Wonder Brewery.