Something fresh is cooking weekdays on The CW, and it’s the Robert Irvine Show.
The chef with major muscles has taken elements of what made his menu of Food Network programs so successful and infused it into his latest project.
“[It’s] the talk show I’ve wanted to do for many years,” Irvine says. “If you take Restaurant Impossible and take the restaurant away, you are left with the conflict. That was the original idea. It just fits with everything we are doing. We talk about food. We talk about obesity. We talk about drug addicts. We talk about family relationships. And that is everyday life. To me, that was the natural progression of moving forward from Restaurant Impossible and into the talk show. You know what we do with the military, food wise and fitness wise. When I do the live shows across the country, you have people asking all these questions and for me to do a TV show about it. Luckily, a gap came in that market, and we filled that gap.”
Irvine is no stranger to hosting, but the format of the talk show took some getting used to.
“When you deal with segments within a 60-minute episode, there can be anywhere from three to 15 guests,” he says. “Unlike Restaurant Impossible where you have 36 hours and build [a show] around it, here you have literally 60 minutes to get to the bottom of these relationships, figure out what is going on and offer help, whether it’s counseling in the city they live in or rehabilitation where we are in L.A.”
The Englishman is proud of the good the show has already done. He recalled an eight-year-old who weighed 170 pounds with a 430-pound mom. Irvine went beyond mentoring, buying her a bike and stocking her with a supply of all-natural pizza from his line of healthy foods.
“It costs me to do this show,” Irvine admits. “Everything I do in my life is to service others. The food line and all these things — the money we raise from it goes to helping others, whether it’s building homes with Gary Sinise or supporting other charities and foundations. It makes me feel good when I go to bed at night that we actually made a difference in somebody else’s life.”
Irvine makes it a point to truly invest in those who seek his help. Considering the hectic schedule, that can require quite a juggling act.
“I have two calls I make every week,” he says. “One is to a 13-year-old boy and another to an 8-year-old girl. I call them every week, ever since they’ve been on the show. For four years now, I’ve been doing the same with kids with cancer no matter where I’m at, whether it’s Afghanistan or Iraq. That’s my commitment to them. It’s a good thing to help them. We are blessed to have these good jobs, the media attention, so we should do something good with it.”
Irvine explains that what separates his show from others is the staff’s dedication to following-up on the stories they present.
“I have a guy in rehab now for almost three months,” he says. “When he came on the show, he was a good chef who worked in a good restaurant with a good mentor. He hit drugs and alcohol, went off the deep end. He had a five-months-pregnant girlfriend who he was fighting with and she stabbed him in the neck with a pair of scissors.
“He came on the show with his dad — he’d sold computers and everything his dad had — and his dad said he needed help. He wasn’t going [to rehab] because he had two jobs, and he will figure it out. I told him, ‘You go to rehab now.’ I took him to rehab straight from the show. He is doing amazing. I promised to get him a job … he is doing so amazing, I offered him a job at my restaurant.”
Irvine has many instances where he has taken a personal interest in others and lent them a hand. His says his mindset is he will bank on others just like he banks on himself.
“Somebody said, ‘You’re a chef. What do you know about this?’” he says. “I said, ‘I don’t. I know life. I know people. I have a team of folks that allow me to be me and get help for people who could never afford it or may not get it otherwise. I’m so passionate about it. If I believe you can change, I will fight and fight until you change. I’m stubborn like that.”
The Irvine brand extends into television shows, products, businesses, philanthropy, books and even a magazine. As he constantly adds to his empire, it’s not hard to guess who he looks to as a positive example from the talk show world.
“I’ve always admired Oprah for her passion, the good she does for the human race and how she handles herself,” Irvine said. “There have been talk show hosts for decades and decades. Different networks want different things. At the end of the day, a host is only as good as the people that come on the show and their own emotion. Nobody can tell you how to feel and what to do, because if it doesn’t feel right, you don’t do it. So Oprah is one of my talk show loves I would say.”
Irvine estimates that he is on the road about 345 days a year, 150 of those for causes related to the military. Through it all, he has managed balance his professional commitments and his family, which includes his wife, pro wrestling’s Gail Kim.
“My wife travels about 100 days a year with wrestling and also travels with me,” Irvine says. “…My wife supports what I do because she knows I’m passionate about it. We make time for each other. We never have a week go by without seeing each other. A week is the longest we will be separated. She is my rock. When you find a soul mate and person that believes in you — and you believe in them — we make time. Sometimes it’s tough. But that’s important — otherwise I wouldn’t be married.”
Irvine appears ringside at many of Kim’s matches. The doting husband couldn’t be more proud of his better half.
“I’m honored to be Mr. Kim,” he says. “She is an amazing wrestler. I get scared watching her wrestle because the way she flies around and does all this stuff. I flew in to watch her get inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame, which was pretty special. That’s all I’ve ever wanted for her was the recognition she deserves. She was one of the ones with Molly Holly, Trish Stratus and all the others that started that world, and look at it today! It’s beyond words. So I’m very blessed to be supported by Gail, and I support her. We are very lucky.”
Irvine may have the build of a pro wrestler, but don’t expect him to enter a ring any time soon. He’d rather leave that to Kim.
“I got very close with a referee once because I disagreed with him,” he says. “I don’t think I would. That’s kind of beyond me. They’ve asked me to do that before, and I’m like. ‘That’s hard work for me.’ It may be story-telling, but that’s storytelling on a different level.”
The Robert Irvine Show airs in syndication weekdays on The CW.
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