Post image for The Sandwich King’s Jeff Mauro:  Chicago Kid to Food Network Star

The Sandwich King’s Jeff Mauro: Chicago Kid to Food Network Star

by Maryann Pisano on November 10, 2014

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Where did you grow up and go to school?

I was born in Chicago, and grew up in Galewood. I attended St. Vincent’s.  My family moved to River Forest, and I attended Oak Park River Forest High School.  If you want to be a performer in the arts, OPRF is a great school.

Where did you go to college?

Bradley University.

How did you get involved with cooking?

I graduated college in 1996, with a degree in communications, radio, and television production.  Two weeks after I graduated, I opened a deli with my cousin.  I always loved cooking, but I also didn’t have a job.  Those two things came together, and I was hooked.

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How did you get into TV?

I had my deli, and I was always a performer.  I was in Tony and Tina’s wedding at night, and I was in sketch comedy, and cooking during the day.  I moved to L.A. with my wife to pursue a career in food television.  It didn’t work out.  But, while I was out there, I went back to culinary school and I also kept auditioning for Food Network Star.  After three tries, I made it onto Food Network Star.  That’s how I got my foot into the door.

What was it like competing on Food Network Star?

Miserable.  You’re away from your family for two and a half months.  You’re not allowed to read, watch TV, or have any extra curricular stimuli.  It’s just the competition.  As an established adult with a family, it was very hard.  But, I had to keep my eye on the prize.

How did winning effect you?

It was very life changing.  Something like that doesn’t happen to most people.  One minute you’re something, and the next minute you’re something else.  It was heavy, but it was blissful.  I had my family around me, and it was very real.  If you go back and watch that show, I geniuely elated.

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What’s it like filming Sandwich King?

It’s a lot harder than you think it is.  You have to juggle chainsaws, axes, and knives.  You have to present a recipe accurately, plus entertain, plus smile, plus tell stories, and relate to the audience.  It’s the hardest discipline I’ve ever done compared to acting or theater.  It’s the hardest thing in the world.

Do you film a show everyday?

We film two a day, Monday through Friday.

What does the future hold for you?

Well, more of the same.  More Sandwich Kings.  And hopefully, my goal in the next couple months to have a primetime show on the air.

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Where does your son attend school?

He goes to St. Vincent’s in River Forest.

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