Dan Levy reveals why he did a cooking show when he can’t cook

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Schitt stream star Dan Levy39 hosts The big brunch (November 10 on HBO Max), an eight-episode cooking competition reality series in which talented chefs compete for a $300,000 cash prize by serving up their best brunch recipes. Levy also judges, alongside restaurateurs Sohla El-Waylly and Will Guidara.

What gave the idea of The big brunch?

A love from my friends who work in the culinary arts, many of whom have been impacted by the pandemic [and] restaurant closures. I love their desire to provide for people in the most humane way possible, which is to feed us.

How did you cast the cooks?

To be eligible, these people had to do something extraordinary in their community. Often, chefs do more than work in a kitchen; they mentor people, and we explore that. We found 10 people who are doing amazing things and telling amazing stories through their food.

Can you cook?

No no no no no! Nobody wants me to cook for them. I’m the ultimate dinner guest – I’m incredibly grateful, I eat just about anything – but no, I can’t cook. I have no instinct. I can make pancakes, and these sometimes come out of a box.

What are you most proud of with Schitt’s Creek?

When you’re about to do a show, you try to have a good time and you try to tell stories with as much clarity, focus, intent and integrity as possible. Did I have any idea that kids would come up to me on the street saying, “I came out to my parents using lines from your show”? The answer is no. Did it make the experience much more meaningful for me? Absolutely.

In your Tostitos commercials, you introduce the idea that you suffer from FOMO [fear of missing out].

I think we all suffer from a bit of FOMO. But when you’re not the popular kid in high school, you miss out on a lot of things. Granted, a lot of what you missed isn’t worth worrying about. I always like to be where the action is. Fortunately, I have become a person who likes to create the action for myself. This helped solve this problem for me.

What is your idea of ​​the perfect brunch menu?

Choice ! What I loved about the show was that I got to eat such a wide range of foods, often all at once. There were definitely selfish motives behind putting on the show. You have to train yourself to eat with a lot of restraint, knowing how much food you need to eat in a day, and you have to leave room in your stomach to be truly open to everyone’s meal and not completely exhausted at the time. where the last person shows up.

There was an episode where you packed some food to go home.

There was so much food that I packed to go. I hosted friends at the end of the evening, I shared food with them. It was an incredible thing.

So if you don’t cook, how much did you rely on your co-judges Sohla and Will to guide you when making your final decisions?

Oh gosh, I think what was so great with the jury was that we had this cut of myself, an enthusiast; Sohla, who is incredibly knowledgeable about food, how it should be prepared and its technical elements; then Will, who speaks from a business and hospitality perspective. You have perspectives in all areas, and it was these conversations that really opened my eyes.

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My job was to really listen to Will and Sohla. Yes, I had my own opinions, and if something really stood out to me, I would stand firm on my beliefs. But it was really listening to them. When it came to who stayed and who should go home, this conversation was really interesting. Sohla had certain technical reasons and Will had certain people who he felt should stay or go home for hospitality reasons, and I liked them all, so it was a tougher call for me.

I fought for them because I saw them behind the scenes and had a more intimate look at who they were as people. I was also able to bring into the conversation a little know-how that I was able to accumulate over their cooks because I was quite often in the kitchen. I was able to color between the lines. If there was someone who had a particularly bad cook, I could fight for them because I knew what happened or why it happened. It’s just something that I don’t think we necessarily see a lot from juries on shows like this, that kind of transparency and awareness of the drama that’s going on on the show.

Do you watch any other competition shows? What are your favourites?

I just watched The Great Briton pastry fair and a bit of Excellent chef, I think. But I was also a host of The Great Canadian Pastry Show for the first two years in Canada, which happened largely by mistake. It was a wonderful surprise, but it was something I didn’t expect. What I could bring to Big Brunch was everything I had learned behind the scenes of what made a great show. Tome, pastry fair is the ideal cooking competition, because it is positive and festive.

There is also more science involved in baking than in cooking. You have to be more precise in pastry.

Ah yes, but in the end, I’m less interested in people competing with each other and more in people competing with their stoves, or competing with their nerves. For me, it’s the big competition. I think something we tried to embrace about that was also the idea that our leaders should love and support each other. I think the level of support you’re seeing over the course of the season is really heartwarming.

Even until the very end, the last episode where you have bosses helping each other out when they’re in a bind, when the stakes are at their highest, it’s pretty remarkable. For me, coming out of the pandemic and feeling very strange about the world, shooting this show has really restored my faith in the goodness of people.

How was it on the Schitt’s Creek Position?

As a cast and crew, we have become so close. It was such a loving, collaborative environment. We didn’t want it to end, we had to. The story has somehow decided to end. I never wanted to exceed our welcome. When I got the hint that things were heating up, you need to make that call. As friends and as colleagues, we could have done this forever.

What about a reunion show at some point?

I wouldn’t love anything more, but I’m so proud of where we ended things with this show that the idea must be really, really good. It has to earn everyone’s time and energy to come back and start again. So I hope that at some point this idea will come to me, but I don’t know, we’ll see.

Do you and your dad, comedian actor Eugene Levy, want to work together again?

I would like to work with my father again. I would like to work with my sister [Sarah Levy, who played cafe owner Twyla Sands] Again. I would like to work with Annie [Murphy] Again. We are still friends. Funnily enough, Annie is in town, and we saw each other last weekend and it was just the biggest reunion. These people are family.

You are currently in the UK filming the fourth season of Sex education. What can you share about your role as Thomas Molloy?

I don’t think I can share much, to be perfectly honest. Especially being someone who ran a TV show, I wouldn’t want to upset anyone on this team. I will say that I worked with Emma Mackey and we had the best days. Working on this show was everything I hoped for. It’s an amazing thing to be able to step into a world you’ve come to know and love through your TV screen and be immersed in it in some way. It was only a dream. I was delighted. I hope I can do it with pride and that’s my biggest fear at this point.

Is there anything you want to do in life? Something in your personal life or maybe something professional, something you still want to achieve?

I do not know. I’m a naturally anxious person, so I tend to take it one step at a time, otherwise I’ll just get overwhelmed. But, of course, there are a lot of things. I think to do The big brunch was something I never thought I would do, and it turned out to be one of the most meaningful professional experiences of my career so far. I hope whatever I keep doing, I’m having as much fun and caring as much as I do. Brunch and I did Schitt’s Creek. You have to have a good time, otherwise why do we do it?

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