Update: “Kitchen Casino” will now debut local chef Lisa DiFebo Osias on Monday, May 12, a change from the originally anticipated April 28 air date. The episode “Fear & Searing” premieres at 9 p.m. on the Food Network, with guest judges Gavin Kaysen and Aliya LeeKong.
Lisa DiFebo Osias has cooked up a way to broadcast her love of cooking over the airwaves: the local chef will compete on the Food Network’s new show “Kitchen Casino.”
Pausing in her 25 years as chef at DiFebo’s restaurant in Bethany Beach, she had to match cooking skill with luck of the draw in the episode titled “House of Cards,” which premieres Monday, April 28, at 9 p.m.
She said the four chefs competing on the show weren’t betting money, but each culinary curveball was determined by a game of chance.
“Kitchen Casino” begins with luck of the wheel: a slot machine determines a cuisine, ingredient and theme, like a Caribbean-inspired breakfast or Indian food featuring coffee. Later, the circular stage spins like a roulette wheel, forcing the chefs to finish preparing someone else’s dish.
Finally, the last two chefs remaining draw poker cards to determine their surprise ingredient. They can hold their hand or take a gamble. The potential prize is $30,000, with eliminations every round. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.
Guest judges determine who will go home each round. Host Bill Rancic is known as the first winner of NBC’s “The Apprentice” and husband of television personality Giuliana Rancic.
In a Food Network promo, DiFebo Osias is seen throwing up her hands in frustration, but still smiling. Without giving too much away, waffles, short ribs and cactus may be involved.
“The show I am on is really more about luck,” she said. “I knew going in it wouldn’t be who’s the best cook or the best chef, more how it’s going to fall, how the odds are against you.”
Although she’s visited Atlantic City and loves roulette, she admits to not being much of a risk-taker.
“This show is about, ‘Hey, I can cook on my feet,’” she said. “August at 7:30 p.m. is no different [in a restaurant], especially being a line cook. The pressure is on. You are in a pressure cooker.”
“These competing chefs need strong culinary talents and cunning strategy to win these high-stakes challenges, making ‘Kitchen Casino’ exhilarating to watch,” wrote Bob Tuschman, Food Network general manager and senior vice president.
“I didn’t feel like I was there to win. I was just embracing the entire experience,” DiFebo Osias said. “The cameramen, the producer, the director … I enjoyed every minute of the experience.”
At first, chefs politely “sized up” the competition, asking about each other’s background, but DiFebo Osias had a blast with her peers.
“I loved them. If anything, during a commercial break, the producer reminded me that we’re competing, because we were so chummy.”
The 42-minute show was filmed in one incredibly long January day in New York City.
Meanwhile, DiFebo Osias still has a restaurant to run at home in Bethany Beach. During this Coastal Point interview, she occasionally paused to instruct employees (“Is that a crème brûlée? OK — put it in a bain-marie.”)
She also cooks for her children’s school concession stand.
“Honestly, it’s just fun. I just like being around food and feeding people, whether it’s ‘Kitchen Casino’ or DiFebo’s or our little concession stand at Worcester Prep.”
For past four or five years, she’s travelled back and forth to New York, “kind of auditioning for different shows.”
Although she got callbacks, “the timing wasn’t right. But every year I kept going back, being persistent about keeping in contact with casting directors and producers.”
Keeping her foot in the door, DiFebo Osias got a phone call many people never get: producers inviting her to audition for a new show. That was an honor itself, besides allowing her to make her television cooking debut.
Overall, she had fun and hopes to return to Food Network soon.
“I think, hopefully, it has opened some doors for me.”
“Kitchen Casino” airs Monday nights at 9 p.m.