WICHITA, Kansas — An Elida High School graduate had his 15 minutes of fame on cable TV’s Food Network when he appeared Thursday evening on the popular cooking show “Beat Bobby Flay.”
Bill Crites has enjoyed a career as a chef and restaurant manager in places as diverse as Austin, Texas, and Spain but has called Wichita his home for the past six years. He has rubbed shoulders with a diverse and eclectic group of foodies along the way, one of whom ultimately helped him land an appearance on the cable television show.
After graduating high school in 2002, Crites joined the Army was was deployed to Iraq. Upon his discharge he returned to Lima and then found himself in culinary school in Austin. He graduated in the top of his class “and then I moved to Spain with no real plan other than that I would figure it out when I got there,” Crites said Friday in a telephone interview from his Kansas home.
“I ran a restaurant for a while in Spain, so it worked out pretty well. Then I returned to Austin, where I met my future wife. She is from Wichita and we ended up moving back here. But along my travels I met a casting producer for the Food Network and she has been trying for several years to get me on one of their cooking shows.”
That process, however, is not a quick and easy one, Crites said.
“It’s a lengthy ordeal. It’s filling out pages and pages of forms and going through a series of Skype calls and other things. It was August of 2019 when (the show’s producers) reached out to me, and the segment wasn’t filmed until November of that year. And it just aired (Thursday).”
The premise of “Beat Bobby Flay” is that two competitors square off in Round 1 of the competition to see who will advance to attempt to knock off the show’s host.
“Bobby gives you a ‘secret ingredient’ that you have to incorporate in your dish, and you have 20 minutes to prepare your dish using that ingredient. Our secret ingredient was cheese curds, which I used to make a Canadian dish called poutine,” Crites said.
“I didn’t win, but I think I should have. Then again, I’m biased,” Crites joked.
“But it was a really good experience, and I don’t regret a minute of it.”