Waconia chef discusses Food Network experience

Under the watchful eye of Food Network mentor Michael Symon, Waconia’s Marc Huebner competes on “America’s Best Cook,” which aired earlier this spring. (Submitted photo)
Under the watchful eye of Food Network mentor Michael Symon, Waconia’s Marc Huebner competes on “America’s Best Cook,” which aired earlier this spring. (Submitted photo)

By Brady Lass

Waconia Patriot


A few months ago, Minnesota newspapers and media wanted to find out more about Waconia’s very own Marc Huebner, who was to compete on the Food Network show, “America’s Best Cook,” in which he would compete against 15 other chefs from around the United States to test his cooking skills.

Months later, people watched as Huebner made it all the way to the final episode as one of the final four competitors. Huebner was the first of them to go and placed fourth overall in the season. Now that it’s all over, Huebner was able to share his thoughts on the unique experience of appearing on the show.

“It was a different experience meeting all these famous chefs,” said Huebner. “But the ones we got to know the most and spent the most time with was the mentor chefs. We were divided into the four areas of the United States: The North, South, East, and West. Michael Symon from ‘Iron Chef America’ was with our section, the North. We even got to see pictures he had of his dog. It was amazing cooking on the same stage where ‘Iron Chef’ was shot.”

Huebner is not in the cooking business — he does IT work for Residential Tech Services — but he noted there were other chefs like him competing in the show.

“I can really only think of two people who competed with me that had worked in the food business,” he noted. “Other than that, nobody really had restaurant experience. When I cook here in Waconia, no one invites me because I intimidate them. One of the best parts was seeing these people who were all over the map have similar experiences like that.”

For Huebner, the hardest part of the show was not the cooking, but deciding what he was going to cook.

“Deciding what you are going to cook for the cook off was the most difficult part of the show. Judges are going to judge a certain part and you second guess what you are going to do. Thinking about it was harder than actually doing it,” he said.

The competition certainly brought some positive experiences for Huebner, as he thought the best part of the show was through his own eyes rather than that of the audience.

“The best moment was off camera. Michael Symon would hand out our food to everyone and seeing people like Ted Allen react to my presentation was really great. One of the judges told me I should consider becoming a chef. A lot of people who don’t know me as well at home found out how well I cooked.”

Huebner also touched on what it was like making it to the final episode and getting eliminated.

“Getting to the final four was kind of the goal for me in those six episodes. I was super ecstatic

making it that far and achieving that goal. Getting eliminated was a serene moment. I was disappointed in myself for my mistakes with the items in my dish, but I was proud I made it that far.”

Huebner’s fellow contestant from the north team, Stephanie Goldfarb, ended up coming out on top. Despite not winning, Huebner was glad that Goldfarb made it with him to the finals and took home the prize.

“I was ecstatic to see part of Team North make it to the final episode,” he said. “In the show, what looked like one hour on the television took 10 to 12 hours of shooting. I got to know Stephanie well and we kind of had this brother and sister bond going. I am happy for her accomplishment.”

While Huebner didn’t win the show, his friends and family — including girlfriend Michelle Hartmann — are proud of what he accomplished on the show.

“The farther that he got, the more confident I was in his ability to win it and although he did not win, I was very proud of him,” said Hartmann, who felt any of the final four contestants could have been the winner.

“It was very surreal to see someone you know on TV,” she added. “I felt Marc was confident in his ability to cook. He was not cocky or flustered or over the top emotional. I felt he was quite humble about the entire experience and that he made an excellent representation of his talent.”

Huebner is hoping “America’s Best Cook” will not be the last time he appears on Food Network.

“I’ve already applied to different shows and casting websites. Different shows have criteria and preferences but Food Network has shown they can bring former contestants on other shows back to compete on different shows.”

Huebner may have lost the competition, but there is no stopping him from continuing to improve himself in his culinary skills. Huebner proved himself to be one of the best cooks in the Midwest.


Contact Brady Lass at [email protected]