Joliet chef goes undercover on Food Network show
BY JANET LUNDQUIST firstname.lastname@example.org August 20, 2013 5:26PM
Chef Mark Bronson sits on the steps of his Joliet home. | Janet Lundquist~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 22, 2013 6:30AM
A Joliet resident will make his Food Network debut Wednesday night, working undercover as a chef in an Evanston restaurant.
Mark Bronson, 56, also a real-life chef, auditioned for a role on “Mystery Diners,” a program that helps restaurant owners ferret out saboteurs among their staff.
The episode Bronson appears in is scheduled to air at 9 p.m.
While Bronson is a fan of the show, he first saw the casting call on Craigslist. Out of curiosity, he auditioned in April. He was paired with another auditioner and was told to act as if he caught a co-worker stealing.
He got the call that he was chosen the night of the audition, he said.
“They said I have a good bald head,” Bronson said. “They wanted someone to look mean.”
Chefs, he said, are mean.
“Orders are shouted. You don’t have time to be nice,” Bronson said. “Kitchens are very, very intense.”
The episode was filmed over two days in May.
Bronson posed as a newly hired chef for one of the restaurant owner’s other properties, and was working at the French Bistro to learn some of the dishes on the menu.
Hidden cameras captured Bronson working in the kitchen along with a disgruntled sous chef, Bronson said. At one point in the four-hour shift, Bronson said the sous chef was caught on camera messing with something Bronson had been cooking.
Bronson, who grew up in Harvey and Homewood, has worked as a chef at Silver Cross Field in Joliet and at the United Center in Chicago.
He moved to Joliet about 30 years ago when his karaoke disc jockey business took off.
After 20 years of work as a DJ, Bronson said he decided to go back to school and become a chef. He studied at Joliet Junior College, then earned a bachelor’s degree in business at University of St. Francis and is working on a master’s degree with ambitions to teach at JJC’s culinary school.