Feeling the sting of my loss in the finale of Food Network Star back last August didn't sit well with me. It lingered on my mind and motivated me to continue to push forward with my career. I knew I had what it took. I knew I'd have other opportunities come my way. I just didn't know where that path would lead.
A few weeks after Food Network Star went off the air I got a call from the Network. They asked if I'd still be interested in doing Deep Fried America, the pilot I shot for the finale of Food Network Star with Rachael Ray. Of course I said yes.
They assigned me to a production company, Magnetic, and we started talking about filming a full episode pilot for the show.
In November, I slipped away to Austin, Tx. to film an half-hour episode for Deep Fried America. I had a blast exploring the city and all the deliciousness that emerged from their deep fryers.
December and January were full of eager anticipation, waiting for Magnetic to finish the editing process so the brass at Food Network could evaluate the show. I did several rounds of voice over to make sure the soundbites were just right.
And then I waited.
March and April came and went. I knew the Network had seen the pilot, but all I could do was keep waiting. Hoping. Wishing.
Then I got an email. It came from the president of Magnetic Productions. "Air Date!!" the email's subject line read. Saturday, June 25, 12:30 CT, on Travel Channel.
Truth be told, I dreamed of having my own show on Travel Channel long before I ever thought about Food Network. You see, I've developed into a pretty good cook, but what I'm truly gifted at is eating and drinking, and there's no better way to experience culture than to eat and drink while traveling.
Five years ago, if you had asked me what my end goal was, I would have said to have my own show on Travel Channel. When the Baton Rouge Business Report named me in their 2011 class of Forty Under 40, they asked me if I could have any job other than my own, what would it be? I responded, "Anthony Bourdain's job. Maybe I'll get there by the time I'm 50."
I was 30 then. I'm 34 now. And I'm about have a pilot air for my own show on Travel Channel.
There's a lot more to the story, and if you catch me in person one day I'll explain why the runner-up on Food Network Star is possibly getting to do a show on Travel Channel. The very short answer is that Scripps Networks is the parent company that owns Food Network, Cooking Channel, HGTV and Travel Channel. My contract is with them. So sure, I may have been on Food Network Star, but they have the ability to place me on any of their networks, and they saw a better fit for Deep Fried America on Travel Channel.
Just to reiterate, this is only a pilot. Travel Channel has not yet ordered a full season of the show. I'm sure hoping they do, but they won't make that decision until after the show airs and they collect some data.
So what can you do? Watch the show every time it airs between June 25 and July 4. Set your DVR to record it. Tell your friends to watch it, too. Come to my viewing party at The Varsity in Baton Rouge, La. on June 25 starting at noon. Post about it on social media and tag #deepfriedamerica, @travelchannel and @jayducote. We'll be active on social media as always, ready to answer any questions you might have and engage in conversation.
I'm extremely excited about this opportunity, more excited than I have been about anything since going to film Food Network Star nearly a year and a half ago. However, I'm always looking ahead and keeping my eye on what's next. The goal wasn't to shoot a pilot for my own show on Food Network or Travel Channel; the goal is to film a whole season. And then another one. And then another. And to keep chasing that dream.
So here we go. Saturday, June 25, 12:30 p.m. Central, Travel Channel. See you there!