Jay Ducote makes his triumphant return to television this month when the pilot for Deep Fried America debuts on the Travel Channel.
“I would say ‘super pumped’ is an understatement,” Ducote says of his feelings on the upcoming airdate.
Though the local culinary star first broke into the national spotlight as a runner-up on Food Network Star, Ducote wrote in an announcement posted to his website that the Travel Channel has always been his ultimate goal.
“When the Baton Rouge Business Report named me in their 2011 class of Forty Under 40, they asked me if I could have any job other than my own, what would it be? I responded, ‘Anthony Bourdain’s job. Maybe I’ll get there by the time I’m 50,’” Ducote wrote. “I was 30 then. I’m 34 now. And I’m about [to] have a pilot air for my own show on Travel Channel.”
The pilot of Deep Fried America began as a final challenge on Ducote’s season of Food Network Star, produced with Food Network personality Rachael Ray. After the reality competition show wrapped, Ducote was contacted to film a full-length version of the test pilot in November, and pending ratings and feedback for the Travel Channel debut, the network could order a full season of the show. (The Food Network and the Travel Channel are owned by the same parent company.)
“It’s a traveling show where every episode I would go to a different city and go into different restaurants and get into the kitchen with those chefs and help them create something amazing using a deep fryer,” Ducote says. The pilot features Ducote frying up dishes at four restaurants around Austin.
Local fans of Ducote, fear not: The foodie will still be based in Baton Rouge even if a full season of 13 episodes is ordered.
“It doesn’t take nearly as long to film as it does to air; it’ll take the better part of two months to film, but it’s not like I’m moving or I’m gone,” Ducote says. “Everything I’m doing here is going to stay. There’s nothing that’s going to change me being based in Baton Rouge and me being very rooted in Baton Rouge.”
Deep Fried America will air Sunday, June 25, at 12:30 p.m. Ducote will host a viewing party at the Varsity Theatre on the day of the premiere, starting at noon.