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Chef Billy Ngo featured on episode of “Cutthroat Kitchen”

Published: Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 - 3:34 pm

Billy Ngo, the highly regarded chef/owner of Kru Contemporary Japanese Cuisine in midtown Sacramento, played to a national TV audience Sunday night when he competed on the popular Food Network show “Cutthroat Kitchen.”

Spoiler alert: Ngo did well, made it to the final round before he lost to “Chef Rob.” The show, which has created a lot of buzz in local foodie circles, will air again Feb. 27.

I caught up with the highly regarded chef Monday morning. Until the show aired, he was not allowed to discuss his participation or the outcome. The episode was actually shot in October. Ngo was recruited to appear in Season 2 of “Cutthroat Kitchen,” which is hosted by Alton Brown.

“I got a phone call from one of the casting people,” Ngo said. “I thought it was a joke. I hadn’t heard of the show. I’m rarely at home, so I don’t have cable.”

This may not have been the best format for Ngo, revered as a chef’s chef for his creativity and artistry. Here’s how the website describes the concept:

“Just how far is a chef willing to go to win a cooking competition? Cutthroat Kitchen hands four chefs each $25,000 and the opportunity to spend that money on helping themselves or sabotaging their competitors. Ingredients will be thieved, utensils destroyed and valuable time on the clock lost when the chefs compete to cook delicious dishes while also having to outplot the competition. With Alton Brown as the devilish provocateur, nothing is out of bounds when money changes hands and we see just how far chefs will go to ensure they have the winning dish.”

Ngo made it to the final round, where he faced off with “Chef Rob.” In what promises to be an oft-quoted line, Ngo took one look at his opponent’s ungainly chicken fried steak dish and said, “That looks like a TV dinner, bro.”

“I wanted to go and represent Sacramento,” said Ngo, noting that the show encouraged trash talking. “It was good. It’s an entertaining show, but it’s more of a game show. You can win without being the best chef.

“I think I did really well. I didn’t win, but I made it to the final round.”

Congratulations to Ngo for the TV gig. And if one thing is safe to say, no one is going to compare his food to a TV dinner.

To read my review of Kru last year, click here.

To read about a special after-hours dinner Ngo cooked for Michelin two-star chef Dominique Crenn, click here.

Call The Bee’s Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099. Follow him on Twitter @Blarob.

Read more articles by Blair Anthony Robertson

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

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