Interview Date: 03/29/2010
Run Date: 04/30/2010
Travel Channel has recently dipped its collective toe into the food programming boom, and following the wild success of “Man Vs. Food,” which recently wrapped up its second season, they are back with an awesome new show, “Food Wars.” The premise is that there are specialty restaurants in most major cities -- Buffalo’s Buffalo wings, Chicago’s Italian beef, Kansas City’s fried chicken. And host Camille Ford has the best job of all -- to travel around the country hosting “Food Wars” and getting to sample the cuisine of each “war.” For you guys, Camille is also very easy on the eyes and she isn’t afraid of spicy food or large quantities of food that isn’t exactly good for you. We had the chance to talk to Camille between episodes of “Food Wars,” and she confirmed that she has one of the coolest gigs ever.
Bullz-Eye: Hey, Camille.
CF: Hey, Mike, how are you doing?
BE: Good, how are you?
CF: Good, thank you.
BE: So, I love the show, I’ve become a big fan. I’m a fan of “Man Vs. Food” and I think there are a lot of similarities between the two.
CF: There are, but hopefully it’s different enough that people will be inspired to watch.
BE: So how did you land the gig to host this show and how excited were you to move forward with it?
CF: Okay, I’m going to answer the latter first. Thrilled, like back flips, couldn’t believe how lucky I am, and was, to be asked to travel around the United States meeting great people who have worked their whole lives to be passionate about one thing, food, that I get to eat for free. All really good things. And as far as how I got involved, I’ve been working in entertainment and the performing arts for years and years, since I was a kid. I moved to New York about eight years ago to kind of pursue the same thing. And I’d done some hosting things that somehow caught the eye of the Travel Channel and it just so happened that they were looking for someone to fill this position. And when I auditioned, it just kind of made sense.
BE: That’s awesome. Was there a lot of competition for that?
CF: Oh yeah, to be honest….”hey, I’m going to pay you to travel around and eat free food.” What do you think? (laughs)
BE: Exactly! I saw on your bio that you have a background in TV and producing. So did you always want to host a food type show, and how has your background helped you prepare for this one?
CF: I’ve always loved food. I’m one of these people who is obsessed with it. I love finding new ways, new places, and new things to cook and eat. But I love to travel, and to be honest my goal was always to be able to do a show about adventure travel and about putting yourself in precarious situations. It just so happens that “Food Wars” puts me in precarious situations, just about food. So yeah, ever since I was a kid, this is what I’ve wanted to do, is eat food and tell people where to go.
BE: From the couple of episodes I watched, it looks like you’re having a lot of fun and really enjoy trying the food. Is that as genuine as it looks on TV?
CF: Yes, sickly so, it’s true. My husband is kind of jealous because he sees me having fun, and he knows I’m having fun, and he doesn’t get to have any of it. It’s actually very funny, when I go out afterwards with the crew and stuff, they’re like, “You’re still eating like you’re on camera,” And I say, “No, that’s how I always eat, you just happened to catch me eating on camera.” I’m constantly like, “Oh, you have try the tartar sauce” and they’re like, “Cam, it’s just mayonnaise and relish.”
BE: How long does it take to film a particular episode?
CF: It’s kind of like giving birth to any baby. It depends on what kind of labor pains -- you know, there’s a lot of stuff that goes into it. Sometimes it’s 30 hours for a single episode, sometimes it’s 40. It just kind of depends on all the parameters -- like the weather. Or one of the restaurants is starting to panic because they sent somebody to taste the other food and they might get worried and try to back out. This is their life, and they are absolutely putting their livelihood on the line when they subscribe to this. There’s really no way to lose, it’s just a lot. We have to be very careful and take our time, and not make anyone feel rushed, or make them feel like they’re doing anything other than getting an opportunity to show the world what they do very, very well.
BE: Have there been any moments when you fear the two sides in any one battle might start a fistfight?
CF: Yeah (laughs). Thank goodness not too often. I know some serious soft shoe numbers so usually if it gets too intense I’ll start tap-dancing in the middle of it. There are definitely moments, intensity is there. It’s a war, people want to be the best, and it’s the American way to try hard and succeed. So when someone pits you against a neighbor that could be literally 400 feet away from you, that’s a lot of pressure. So there’s definitely moments when we’re glad there’s a lot of interns running around, making sure everyone has a beer, and is relaxed.
BE: Which was your favorite one to tape so far and why?
BE: I know I’m putting you on the spot.
CF: No, I love it, I totally dig it. I do it to people every day, I should be able to take a little heat too. I really loved Tucson but it’s mainly because I’m from Arizona. I love anything wrapped in bacon, and anything spicy, and Tucson brought it.
BE: Was that the hot dog wrapped in bacon?
CF: Yes, yes, yes!
BE: I think Adam Richman did something on that.
CF: I think he did, yes, or something similar to that. And also, I just love to be outside. And so at the end of each day, my little brother and I would go hike up into the mountains. It was just the perfect combination of exploring the world I’m traveling in, as well as taste what makes that place special. That’s always a perfect trip for me.
BE: And get to work off the food.
CF: (laughs) Yeah, exactly. No, I packed a few Sonora dogs (bacon-wrapped hot dogs) in my little backpack.
BE: Do you have a favorite type of food or part of the country that you think has the best restaurants, or would that be Tucson?
CF: No, I don’t know about that. Hot dogs are what they are. It’s kind of like that scene where you’re Jell-O or you’re crème brulee, and you can never be crème brulee if you’re Jell-O. You just can’t. That’s part of why the show is so successful. There are so many opportunities to go out and have your own food war. What I might say today will totally be different than what I’m going to say a month from now, because I’ve gone out and I’ve explored this world and I’ve seen what else there is to offer. But I do love spicy food. The spicier the better, so as long as there’s a little kick to it, I’m happy.
BE: Yeah, I thought it was pretty cool when you tried the Buffalo wings and you weren’t afraid of the heat.
CF: No way, man. It was good too, it was a good spice!
BE: What is a battle that hasn’t happened yet that you’d like to see?
CF: Oh, there’s a few. There’s actually quite a few. I would love to go up into the Northwest, into Oregon and Washington. I know Washington has some serious chili wars. And actually New Mexico has some crazy chili wars too, green chili. And I’m a huge fan of chili cook-offs, I think they’re fun, and you never know what you’re going to get. Each batch is different, so I would really love to see that happen. That would be fun. I would also love to see maybe something like a dessert, like a cupcake war, because I love dessert. Or a chocolate war -- you know, there’s so many amazing places that do dessert as a meal itself. So I’d love to see those get a little attention.
BE: What has reaction to the show been from viewers and the Travel Channel so far?
CF: Really positive, it’s been very fun to watch people who will then tweet or e-mail or blog about the fact that they’re then disputing what happened or saying, “Well, we have two restaurants in St. Louis that have to have a food war and host their own food war.” So basically it’s a dinner table conversation, or a going-out-for-drinks conversation. It’s getting people excited about where they live and their local eateries. We’re not promoting Outback and Applebee’s, we’re promoting people that have worked their whole lives to give their community something. And that has really made the show popular because people want to support local eateries, they just don’t know where to go.
BE: Well, very cool. And what are some hobbies or interests you have outside of your career?
CF: (laughs) If there is an “-ing” at the end of any word, that’s my hobby. Biking, running, belaying, climbing, horseback riding; I mean, literally, if it involves me somehow putting my life in danger, that is what I want to be doing. Yesterday, I did a five-mile wilderness race through the mud. Saturday I was single track mountain biking on some tough mountains in New York. I love the feeling of pushing myself to the limit. I love it.
BE: Well then, it sounds like sleep is probably not one of your hobbies?
CF: (laughs) No, it’s so funny. My poor husband, we got back from New Orleans and our flight was at 3 o’clock in the morning and we got back at 6 a.m. And I was on the mountain by 10, biking until 7 that night when the sun went down. He slept -- he watched TV and slept, but I just gotta get out there.
BE. Do you watch any other cooking or food shows regularly?
CF: I do. My husband is a Paula Deen junkie, so we watch a lot of Paula. I think if there was one woman he could cheat on me with, it would be Paula Deen. (laughs) I like Bobby Flay, I’ve worked with him before. For everything that he is, he definitely knows how to cook with some zest. As far as that’s concerned, I also love Julia Child. I love You-Tubing her old videos. She was such a spunky, intelligent woman; just to watch her do her thing is so impressive.
BE: And so ahead of her time.
CF: Oh, absolutely. And oh, there’s no wrong way to watch food in HD.
BE: Well I have one more question. I noticed that you guys have a bracket set up on the Travel Channel Web site. Did you do an actual NCAA bracket and how has it turned out so far?
CF: I normally have a March Madness team that I play with every year, and this is the first year that I haven’t done it, and it’s killing me.
BE: Probably a good year that you didn’t do it, because of all the upsets. I don’t think there is anyone that’s had a correct bracket.
CF: Which is so sad because I’m always the one that picks the under, under, underdogs and I feel like I would be killing it this year. But it’s still fun to watch, and it’s still fun to see who’s doing what and who’s making it to the top. It’s good to have a little shakeup every now and again.
BE: That’s true.
CF: Again, it’s like “Food Wars.” It keeps people on their toes. When the underdog wins, people have to work harder.
BE: Well, thanks for your time, Camille.
CF: Absolutely, thanks for asking me such fun questions.
BE: No problem, and good luck with everything.
CF: Thank you, thank you, thank you.For more information on “Food Wars,” please visit http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Food_Wars