Details You Didn't Know About Jeff Mauro

Jeff Mauro started his Food Network career in 2011, when he emerged as the winner of "Food Network Star" Season 7 — pretty impressive for a guy who deliberately confined his craft to delicious sandwiches. Mauro's victory netted him a show of his own, the appropriately-titled "Sandwich King," which he hosted from 2011 to 2014 (per IMDb). And as anyone who's watched Food Network at any point during the last decade can attest, Mauro never really stopped working after that; he went from making appearances on fellow celebrity chefs' shows to judging and co-hosting shows from "The Kitchen" to, as it happens, "Food Network Star." Not bad for a sandwich guy, right?

Mauro has been a constant presence on the food-loving audiences' screens for so many years, it's easy to forget that there's way more to him than his perma-smiling, affable onscreen presence. Today, we'll take a look at some details you may not have known about Jeff Mauro.

Mauro has a surprising blind spot in his sandwich game

Mauro's delicious sandwiches have always been a massive part of his charm, but even the Sandwich King himself can't be all-knowing. In a 2021 interview with Misadventures with Andi, Mauro revealed that his TV sandwich skill set lacks a very specific, surprising tool: His onscreen self has been ignoring the classic fried chicken sandwich. "No, I haven't done a traditional fried chicken sandwich yet on my show," he revealed. "I did a waffle sandwich with fried chicken, but I love a traditional hot fried chicken with iceberg lettuce and mayo on a soft bun, it is another one of my favorites and showcases the simplicity of a great sandwich."

The fact that Mauro has kept his fried chicken sandwich game largely under wraps (so far) doesn't mean that he's completely out of it when it comes to the great chicken sandwich wars — though he does admit he only recently got acquainted with one of its biggest players. "I'll be honest with you, two weeks ago I had my first ever Chick-fil-A," Mauro continued. "They just started rolling them out here in Chicago and for a bun, chicken and two pickles it was phenomenal and I just love it. Politics aside, I am in it for the food and they executed a great sandwich."

Mauro's weight loss method

Longtime fans of Mauro may have noticed that he started his career in front of the camera as a somewhat larger person than he eventually became. Mauro has kept fairly quiet about his slimming figure, but in 2016 he addressed it in a Facebook post that featured a "before" and "after" photo documenting his physical progress. "Normally, I'm not this showy of my dadbod," Mauro wrote. "But I am proud of my fitness journey and cannot thank my coaches @angelo_sisco, Becca & @oharecrossfit enough for giving me a fitness home."

The rest of the post is a repost from Mauro's Crossfit trainer, O' Hare Crossfit (or OHC for short), detailing the Food Network host's weight loss methods; it states that he shed the pounds in a "healthy, slow, consistent fashion over the past few years. With the combination of OCF workouts and a sensible, monitored diet, Jeff has successfully kept the weight off, too!"

It's all about the family for Mauro

Mauro has accomplished quite a bit over his career, and in an interview with Chicago Parent, he said that his apparent "overnight" success actually came after years and years of arduous work and setbacks. Luckily, he had quite a bit of backup from his family, who made sure to not only support him, but also to make sure that he doesn't put all his eggs in one basket. "Ultimately, I thank my wife, Sarah, who, it wasn't only, 'Oh, you can do it, Honey,' but thank God she was a realist," the celebrity chef said. "She said, 'make sure we've got a backup. If you don't get a TV show, what are we going to do?'"

Mauro has kept his family close over the years, and his son and other various family members have actually joined him onscreen several times. "My parents, my siblings, it's been great because we've all gone through it together," Mauro added. "My family has supported me since I was 9 years old, so it was cool."

Mauro has some pretty surprising culinary idols

It's not uncommon for famous food industry personalities to have idols. Since Mauro is a pretty down-to-earth guy, it's perhaps par for the course that his idols aren't Michelin-starred restauranteurs or globally revered celebrity chefs. Instead, his influences are at an arm's reach — sometimes literally. 

In an Instagram post depicting himself and three of his older relatives, Mauro revealed that the culinary luminaries he truly looks up to are all closely related to him: the three ladies in the picture, who just happen to be his mother and two aunts. "People often ask: 'yo Jeff! who are your greatest culinary influences?'" the celebrity chef wrote. "My answer every time: these three magnificent matriarchs of the Mauro/Berni/Speziale familia. From a very young age, my mother Pam and her two sisters Aunt Phil & Aunt Jae showed me the power and importance of food, family and saying that wonderful phrase 'Come on Over!'" Mauro also rattled off a truly mouthwatering list of these three ladies' specialities, which include (but presumably are not limited to) "stuffed shells, bountiful salads, bubblin' manicotti, sausage, peppers and plenty of juicy beef." Makes you wonder how to get an invitation to a family dinner at the Mauro household, doesn't it?

Mauro's favorite food is surprisingly not a sandwich

You'd expect that a man who rose to fame as the Sandwich King would be thinking about sandwiches roughly as often as he makes and eats them, which is all the time. However, while Mauro's own favorite treat does involve a rough approximation of bread, cheese, and stuffings, you should be prepared for a healthy dose of argument if you insisted in calling it a sandwich. 

In an interview with Misadventures with Andi, Chicago native Mauro revealed that the thing he misses the most on the road is ... pizza. He wants no part in the whole "what type of pizza is the best?" conversation, though. "I am in New York a lot so I don't want to start that whole argument about NY vs Chicago who has better pizza," the chef says. However, he has plenty to say about the concept of the classic Chicago deep-dish. "But it is a misconception that Chicagoans only eat deep dish pizza for every meal. That's not true. It's a special occasion thing. Growing up we would have deep dish or stuffed pizza once or twice a year maybe. We eat thin crust pizza primarily. That's usually cut in squares with a nice crackery crust, big chunks of locally homemade Italian sausage — I have not found anywhere else in the country or the world that makes it better than here."