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Jeff Mauro co-hosting 'quarantine edition' of Food Network's 'The Kitchen' from his Chicago-area home

Tribune News Service logo Tribune News Service 4/3/2020 By Tracy Swartz, Chicago Tribune
Jeff Mauro sitting at a table: Jeff Mauro onstage during a culinary demonstration during the Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite featuring Culinary Demonstrations at The IKEA Kitchen presented by Capital One at Pier 94 on Oct. 13, 2019 in New York City. © John Lamparski/Getty Images North America/TNS Jeff Mauro onstage during a culinary demonstration during the Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite featuring Culinary Demonstrations at The IKEA Kitchen presented by Capital One at Pier 94 on Oct. 13, 2019 in New York City.

Saturday’s episode of “The Kitchen” will look different — and not just because co-host Jeff Mauro said he filmed the episode while sporting “quite a gross mustache.” The Food Network show’s first “quarantine edition” will feature the five co-hosts cooking separately at their respective homes, instead of together at a New Jersey studio, because of coronavirus.

Mauro makes crispy skin salmon Provencal with charred red cabbage salad in his suburban Chicago kitchen. The dish sounds fancy, but Mauro said it was made with items pulled from his pantry.

“Luckily we had enough salmon frozen that we could do this recipe,” Mauro told the Tribune. “We do not have the resources that we normally do for ‘The Kitchen.’ We have the same stuff that everybody else has. It made it that much more special.”

Mauro said there are usually between 70 and 80 crew members on set to film “The Kitchen.” His wife, Sarah, and their 11-year-old son, Lorenzo, helped him for the at-home episode. Turning his kitchen into a TV studio was “exhausting” and involved multiple iPhones, an iPad, a laptop and other technology, he said. He and his co-hosts — Sunny Anderson, Alex Guarnaschelli, Katie Lee and Geoffrey Zakarian — communicated via the Zoom video conferencing service.

“I’ve always had respect for crew, any crew on a television set, but this gives you a whole new appreciation,” Mauro said. The hour-long special is scheduled to air at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Mauro, who won Season 7 of “Food Network Star” in 2011, said he recently turned in the manuscript for his first cookbook, which is due out next spring. He said he has other television projects in the works, but he isn’t looking to get back in the restaurant business right now.

Mauro was the face of Pork & Mindy’s, a Chicago barbecue chain that closed shop last year. “It’s not the time to even try to venture to get into that business. I had a good run, and then we’ll see. I have so many ideas that I can’t wait to launch. We’ll just wait until the world calms down a little bit and gets itself healthy,” Mauro said.

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