How Christian Petroni Became A Star On Food Network - Exclusive

As a boy, Christian Petroni knew he wanted to be a chef when he got hooked on watching the Discovery Channel's "Great Chefs of the World." In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Petroni recalled being introduced to food television early on, when Food Network was just starting out. "I never thought in a million years, nor tried to set any goals to be on television," he told us. Petroni was more fixated on owning a restaurant. As he admitted, "The way that everything has happened, it's been quite a wild ride." In 2010, he appeared on the fourth season of "Chopped" and won the episode. Soon after, he was invited back to "Chopped" as a judge — "which is another crazy universe thing, because you don't see a lot of contestants that got invited back to judge." 

He credits casting director Beth Schiff and producer Vivian Sorenson for launching his television career. Jump ahead a few years, and Petroni appeared as a "Chopped" judge "about a dozen times" and had opened five incredibly successful restaurants under the Fortina banner. Food Network approached him about competing on "Food Network Star," which he actually didn't want to do because it meant a month-and-a-half stint away from his wife and six-month-son. She didn't understand his reluctance and urged him to accept the offer. Petroni pushed the idea out of his mind, until fate took a turn he never saw coming.

Christian Petroni is humble about his success

How did Petroni actually get on "Food Network Star"? He ended up signing the agreement by accident when his assistant at the time slipped it underneath other documents for his signature. Despite that little misdirection, Petroni loved being on "Food Network Star," which he won, tying with Jess Tom, but he learned that he enjoyed food competition. Petroni gets calls all the time for competing on shows, but he emphasizes that he's not a competitive person; he finds it fun. After "Food Network Star," Guy Fieri got in touch and asked him to do an episode of "Guy's Grocery Games." 

Since then, Petroni has shot 25 episodes of "Triple G," as he calls it, either as a competitor or as a judge, and multiple episodes of "Guy's Ranch Kitchen" and "Tournament of Champions." He's even developed a close mentorship with his idol, Guy Fieri. Petroni is still astounded and humbled by his meteoric rise on Food Network. "The whole thing's nuts. It's full circle. It's a perfect example of 'always be good to everybody,' 'cause everyone comes back around." Fame comes with perks, like a private trailer, a private car, flights to the West Coast and back, and Petroni appreciates that everything is taken care of for him. "None of this that's going on right now is lost on me."

You can follow Christian Petroni's continuing culinary adventures on Instagram.