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The Untold Truth Of Chef Boot Camp's Cliff Crooks

Crooks got his first restaurant job at 15 bussing tables and gradually worked up in the kitchen, but his passion began in his childhood, growing up cooking with his nana. The New York-based chef is now the culinary director of BLT Restaurants, the restaurant group behind American steakhouses BLT Steak and BLT Prime, with locations worldwide.

In Top Chef season 2, Crooks was disqualified when he "dragged fellow chef Marcel Vigneron out of bed and pinned him to the floor while yelling for others to come and shave the young man's head." This event happened after he and other contestants drank and decided to shave their heads.

Crooks has grown since that unfortunate incident and has created a name for himself in the culinary world. His BLT Prime has appeared on several local publications' roundups of best steakhouses, and he often guest-stars on Food Network shows or in videos for social media.

The chef's cooking is inspired by his time in Taiwan, where he lived for four years. The items at his BLT restaurants include flavors used in many Asian countries' dishes, such as soy, tamarind, ginger, and turmeric, and his favorite "genre" of dishes to make involves seafood.

Crooks is interested in the future of fast-casual dining and told New York Moves that it creates "more opportunity to taste things outside of one, formal format." He believes that the word "fast" should no longer have a negative connotation in the dining world and that fast food does not have to be cheap or unhealthy.