Mark Anderson hasn’t lived in Boise for long, but he already has a list of the local restaurants he’d like to feature if he becomes the Food Network’s next host.
“When my wife and I go out to eat, I’m thinking, ‘Would I put this on the show, or would I not put this on the show?’” the 41-year-old told the Statesman.
Anderson, along with partner Ryan Fey, is one of a handful of contestants you can root for this weekend on “Guy’s Big Project,” a Guy Fieri endeavor that is a launchpad for a new travel-based Food Network program. Fieri, the host of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” is no stranger to such shows (or to Boise), and Anderson said it was “an amazing feeling” to be one of eight teams chosen to compete.
“I’ve been a Food Network mega-fan for years,” Anderson said, counting Fieri’s show and Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” among his favorites.
But other than some time spent as a prep cook in his teens, Anderson doesn’t have much formal culinary experience. Neither does Fey. Instead, the pair, who worked together in advertising, honed their love of cooking through Thanksgiving gatherings, guest takeovers at restaurants and, of course, just preparing meals for their families. From there, they decided to pitch “The Grill Dads,” a show about two regular dudes “in search of the perfect backyard cuisine.”
Anderson and Fey started off with an IndieGoGo video but quickly decided to submit a video to “Guy’s Big Project,” Anderson said. Though they’re amateur cooks, Anderson said that could play to their advantage on the show.
“Your experience for a new city is often through their food. I think it’s really interesting for people to watch two guys who are fans of food be the lens through which they see that,” he said.
That’s not to say that the pair are uninformed.
“Even though we’re amateurs, we’re very proactive about it,” Anderson explained, adding that he and Fey take classes on techniques like sous-vide cooking or the proper way to butcher cuts of meat.
That training has informed his opinion on the Boise food scene, which Anderson speaks highly of. Though he moved here just a year ago after purchasing UltraClean, a Treasure Valley water damage restoration service, Anderson has long had an appreciation for the Pacific Northwest and all it has to offer.
“We’re madly in love with the state of Idaho,” Anderson said.
He thinks Boise is “just about big enough” for a really cohesive food scene, and he hopes a slot on the Food Network (and the national recognition that comes with it) would help cement that.
“It would be great to do a stop in Boise. I have a list of places that would be spectacular for the show,” Anderson said.
The first episode of “Guy’s Big Project” airs Sunday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. Mountain Time on Food Network, and Anderson will be watching right along with you.
“We’re just so excited to actually see it on TV and see how we come across,” Anderson said.