GORDON RAMSAY'S FOOD STARS: The Season 1 Winner Shares What Comes Next - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

GORDON RAMSAY’S FOOD STARS: The Season 1 Winner Shares What Comes Next

August 16, 2023 by  

Food Stars season 1 winner

GORDON RAMSAY’S FOOD STARS: L-R: Caroline, Chris and Lan in the Season Finale episode of GORDON RAMSAY’S FOOD STARS airing Wednesday, Aug. 16 (9:02-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. 2023 Fox Media LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/FOX

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for the season 1 finale of GORDON RAMSAY’S FOOD STARS.]

After spending all season teaming up in various groups, it was every man and woman for themselves on the season 1 finale of GORDON RAMSAY’S FOOD STARS.

For Caroline, Chris, and Lan, they were tasked with showing off their individual product in a pop-up setting, incorporating suggested changes…and getting a visit from their loved ones.

After all three went off without a hitch, they had one last chance to pitch themselves (and their item) to Gordon Ramsay, trying to convince him they were the right person to partner with the mogul.

Ultimately, Ramsay chose Chris Kanik, whose Smart Cups are the world’s first printed beverage. Ramsay will partner with Kanik, whose company will also receive $250,000.

After the win, Kanik spoke with Give Me My Remote about the victory and what comes next…

First of all, congratulations on your very big win. It’s an interesting finale episode, because it’s the first time you were solo and focusing on your own product. What was that like for you? 
It was great. It was an emotional moment for me. I mean, the whole reason that I decided to go on the show was to have a platform to expose millions of eyeballs of Gordon Ramsay’s fans to Smart Cups technology. And for the emphasis to be placed on Smart Cups was fantastic. The pop-up that they created…Gordon and his team at Fox, they did a remarkable job at just making it tangible, so that the average person could understand all the talking points, the benefits of Smart Cups technology. It was a really special moment in my life. I remember walking into the pop-up and just being filled with just emotion—and I’m typically an emotionless human being. [Laughs.] And, you know, then production surprised me with my family that I had not seen in two months and I just broke down and started crying.

Before going on the show, I really had to have a difficult conversation with my wife and my children and say, “Listen, Daddy’s gonna go away for two months.” And my wife was very supportive. And I said, “Listen, if you don’t want me to go on the show, I understand.” And she said, “No, this is something you have to do and I support you.” And she held down the fort. We’ve got three kids; she held down the fort. But for me to see my family for the first time in two months…just me still seeing the clip makes me cry. Because the reason I’ve devoted 11 years of my life to a technology that I think is going to do something good [for] the planet. But sacrificing so much that I’ve sacrificed for my family time away from my family. It’s all for something. Let’s put it that way.

To jump ahead to the fact that you’ve had your family there, what was the process in your brain trying to be like, “Okay, I’ve got to focus on the finale. But also my family is here!” How was it trying to split your focus there? 
It’s funny. I have somewhat of an untraditional background: I took my first chemistry class when I was 10. I started working in a lab when I was 12. Did science research for years. Published science fairs, American Chemical Society scholar. And then I was a stand-up comic for seven years. You know, so being on stage, being able to pivot and think quick on my feet is a skill that I have. And I remember during that pop-up, I was talking to my wife for a second and production said, “Okay, we need you over here,” and I just flipped the switch. And my wife looks at me—this is a funny behind-the-scenes story—in awe and she looks at [me] and she says, “Are you even human anymore? Like, I’ve never seen someone flip from this to that so quickly.” And I said, you know, in addition to this being a business challenge and an investment opportunity, it’s a TV show, and so you have to be able to pivot very quickly, and be forward-facing and be able to perform on command. And so it really tested every single skill set that I have.

But I will say that FOOD STARS was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life. It was draining emotionally, spiritually, mentally, in every aspect. And it really tested every fiber of patience in my body. Every fiber of patience. Because if you watch the show, you notice that I don’t ever engage in any drama. And trust me, that was hard. That was very hard because I’m a guy from New Jersey and I’d like to tell people what’s up. But I really wanted to represent Smart Cups technology. I wanted to represent my family well. I wanted to represent my employees well. And I think at the end of the day, Gordon is looking for someone who’s an extension of him and who can be professional, can be forward-facing, and who he can trust with his brand. And I think that’s what I showed Gordon throughout the challenges.

At your final sit-down with Gordon, what we saw was a great pitch—including the fact this could win him a Nobel Prize. How much of it was off-the-cuff, how much was planned, and what do you feel was the most important thing you conveyed during that meeting?
That was off-the-cuff. When you’re sitting face to face with Gordon, it’s very stressful. You know, you have the cameras there. It’s quiet. He’s staring at you. This is the finale. And I have to put everything on the line right here. I got to pull out every ace that I have. I can’t hold any bullets back, right? And I’ve devoted 11 years of my life. And no offense to Caroline or to Lan, but they do coffee, they do pizza sauce. Those are two products that I can do. I’m not coming to Gordon with a product. I’m coming to Gordon with a technology platform that’s capable of doing all sorts of products. It’s application-driven, really, and in categories ranging from pharmaceuticals—Smart Cups technology started as a drug delivery system. And I just put it into food and beverage to get commercial acceptance.

And so knowing what the stakes were, knowing that if he chose coffee or pizza sauce over a disruptive technology, he could devalidate everything that I’ve been working towards…I really had to pull… I’m serious when I say that there are Nobel Prize-worthy applications to Smart Cups technology. I’ve been told this by professors, PhDs, people within the government: if we can get the commercial acceptance and we can launch certain applications, to make a difference in people’s lives, the ability to print micronutrients and food in a sustainable and efficient manner, to service underdeveloped regions around the world, under service communities, that’s impactful. That’s what I’m most passionate about. And I really wanted to make that clear and hit Gordon over the head with it. And I said, “Listen, you have Michelin stars. I’m coming to you with a technology platform and the ability to get a Nobel Prize. Nobody else here…is presenting you with that opportunity.”

Food Stars season 1 winner

GORDON RAMSAY’S FOOD STARS: Chris in the Season Finale episode of GORDON RAMSAY’S FOOD STARS airing Wednesday, Aug. 16 (9:02-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. 2023 Fox Media LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/FOX

What was going through your mind as you were sitting in the room with your family and the other contestants waiting to hear who won?
I was just thinking I better not lose. I’m in front of my kids. My family. If I lose, the car ride back home is going to be brutal. Brutal. And so I was just [thinking] please. I prayed. I’m a scientist who believes in God. And so I prayed a lot during the shooting of FOOD STARS. And I just prayed. And you could see in my reaction—there was a sense of relief afterwards. And there really wasn’t a moment for me to celebrate, because I was just thinking okay, now Gordon is gonna be my partner. What’s the next step? I’m already thinking two, three years down the line in that moment.

Even before the win airs, how much has this weekly exposure to a television audience increased awareness?
Really, over the last 10 weeks, I will say I’m blown away with how my staff has kept up in stock with the products. And I’m astonished every day I get daily reports. I’m astonished by what’s going on. There’s so many opportunities coming through right now; we just have to sit back and decide which ones are the right opportunities for us. And looking ahead, I’m looking forward to working hand-in-hand with Gordon now that the show’s over, and really focusing on how we can collaborate to introduce new products to the market where taste is at the forefront.

We’re working on a number of products that we want to launch in the next year or so. A printed mouthwash product…so this is the best demonstration of the sustainability message: we eliminate liquid, we eliminate the plastic packaging. Bone broth. Each one of these has 10 grams of protein in here; you just add hot water and you have a nutritious product that you can deliver efficiently throughout the world. And we’re looking to probably reformulate our energy drink and put taste at the forefront with Gordon. But more importantly, and as I mentioned before, the medication and humanitarian applications. That’s what I’m most passionate about. That’s the number one reason I went on FOOD STARS was…I knew getting Gordon’s buy-in would almost guarantee commercial success and would open up the doors for humanitarian applications. And, you know, I’m really just looking forward to learning from Gordon. How many times can you say you have a partner at a high level that is involved in TV, food and beverage, and humanitarian efforts? I would argue that his partnership is more valuable than the monetary investment. And so I’m really excited about what’s going to happen here for the future of Smart Cups.

Food Stars season 1 winner

GORDON RAMSAY’S FOOD STARS: L-R: Chris with executive producer Gordon Ramsay in the Season Finale episode of GORDON RAMSAY’S FOOD STARS airing Wednesday, Aug. 16 (9:02-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. 2023 Fox Media LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/FOX

What is your biggest hope for your partnership with Gordon?
Really unlocking the humanitarian applications. And I’m gonna sound like a broken record, but that’s what I said to him throughout the challenge. You know, he would constantly ask me, “Why are you here?” And I would say, “Listen, my strategy for being here is unlocking commercial success, getting your buy-in, partnering with you and having your network open up the humanitarian efforts and applications. The ability to print medications, the ability to print food and beverages, micronutrients, and providing that around the world. That’s the bigger-picture play here. That’s my vision. That’s the whole reason I wake up in the morning for 11 years, sacrifice my family, my sanity. Your partnership allows that to become a reality.”

And so that’s the whole reason I went on the show. It’s the number one reason. And I’m just glad that I came up on top. And it’s gonna be pretty exciting. You know, I’m in discussions with his team so far. He’s an extremely impressive individual, extremely sharp. His team has been a pleasure to work with. They really believe in Smart Cups. And that’s more valuable to me than any monetary investment.

You mentioned in the finale how this might be helpful with the ongoing climate crisis. Do you think in, hypothetically, three years, we might see these cups being deployed to areas in distress?
I’m hoping that it’s before three years. Realistically. One of the biggest hurdles within my business is that this is a new technology, and we had to scale up and figure out and create all the manufacturing equipment from scratch. And so we just installed our fully automated production line. And that’s going to enable us—that’s a four-and-a-half year, multi-million dollar project that we just installed. It’s going to allow us to take on a retail distribution, as well as white-label enterprise deals.

We just signed our first enterprise deal with a global pet product company printing pet supplements in disposable recyclable doggie bowls. And so we’re really excited about that. It’s going to start a domino effect of adoption. And I’m in discussions with some government agencies about some of the things that we can do and some applications that can help from both a medication and food standpoint. And UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability…just published a paper on the environmental impact that Smart Cups technology will have. And so think about the average truck that could only deliver 100,000 units of a bottle product. Smart Cups technology will be able to deliver up to 3.1 million units of the same product, just because of the reduction of storage and transportation requirements. That leads to a reduction of carbon emissions.

We’re excited about what the future holds here and the ongoing research that a number of universities are interested in doing and identifying what the impact [can be]. People have this visceral feeling when it comes to sustainability and the environment. But when you talk about sustainability, you have to look at the entire picture, right? Liquid transportation does a number on our environment. And that’s what we’re trying to tackle here, and looking at more sustainable materials that we can print on. Right now, our energy drink product, we print on a plant-based PLA product. But being able to print on recycled materials, biodegradable materials, that’s all in our pipeline. And those are the things that we’ll be launching here in the future. Mouthwash, I think, is going to be our first product that we come out with and that’ll start a domino effect of adoption.

On a lighter note, looking back at the season, what was your favorite challenge to do?
I think the St. Jude challenge was my favorite one. You know, I got to get on stage and crack jokes on Gordon and make him laugh. My wife, being a cancer survivor, and me having three kids, that was an opportunity for me to do something bigger, a greater and do something that had a bigger cause than just getting an investment or a challenge. And so it was humbling for me. So that was my favorite challenge.

The hardest challenge was episode 9, Las Vegas. Primarily because I had gotten really, really sick. I lost 14 pounds in three days. In the final episode, if you watch me wear my suit…I mean, my suit doesn’t even fit properly. And so I was dehydrated. I hadn’t slept. But I didn’t pick the best performer. And I knew that very quickly. And I realized that I had to give more of myself than the other contestants in order for me to make it through to the finale, because I knew that finale was going to be our big moment where we could showcase our companies, and I didn’t want to lose that opportunity. So I really pulled every trick I had and that really tested me to a great deal. And I’m just glad that I was able to pull it through.

Food Stars season 1 winner

GORDON RAMSAY’S FOOD STARS: L-R: Aaron and Chris in the Season Finale episode of GORDON RAMSAY’S FOOD STARS airing Wednesday, Aug. 16 (9:02-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. 2023 Fox Media LLC. CR: Greg Gayne/FOX

You got to know a number of entrepreneurs during this. Is there anyone you might be teaming up with?
I was able to form some really good relationships with a number of cast members. Tony, Sydney, I’ve provided them guidance. You know, I have a rich background in CPG, and anytime that I can help someone with their companies and give them advice, it’s fulfilling to me; it’s my way of giving back.

On the show, I was very impressed by Aaron. He’s a kid—he’s one of the smartest hardest working kids I’ve ever met. And he actually moved from Missouri to Southern California, and he works at Smart Cups now. So I’m helping him. I’ve helped him with the snow cone business, but he’s come on board to help us with marketing, social media content. And I’m very impressed by him. He’s become part of my family, really. To the point where my kids think he’s like my oldest son now.

My oldest son just turned 15, and talking about who he wanted to invite to his birthday party, the first name he dropped was Aaron. So he thinks Aaron’s his older brother. So I think Aaron is going to be a big part of Smart Cups in the future. And any way that we can help him it’s great, right? So it’s my way of giving back.

Before I let you go, is there anything else you’d like to share about the experience?
Gordon asked me the same question in the final grilling and…there’s like 100 production people. It’s quiet. He asked me if there was anything else, and very seriously I said to him, “Yes. This is my real head of hair.” And I made him break character.

I think the show was a unique experience. Really tested every facet of my skill sets. And I’m just really excited that I came up on top. And I’m really excited, because I really did it. I did it for my family. I did it for the employees of Smart Cups who have sacrificed and bought into the vision. And it’s almost surreal. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. But really excited for what the future is going to bring and having Gordon Ramsay as my partner.


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