The Food Network has launched the careers of many cooks and chefs, like Rachael Ray, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, and so many more. Now, the network is looking to find the next generation of cooks in Food Network Star Kids, which airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. The young cooks will have two mentors to guide them through the process: Actor Tia Mowry and Irish TV personality Donal Skehan. While you likely recognize Mowry from Sister, Sister, Twitches, Instant Mom, or one of her other projects, Skehan is a relatively new face to the American audience who brings even more culinary talent to the Food Network.
In addition to his TV appearances, Skehan is a food writer of seven books, YouTube personality, and a former musician. In an interview with the Food Network, the Dublin native considered himself to be the tough-to-impress mentor for the kid chefs. "I worry sometimes that I’m a little bit too tough," he said. "But I think at the end of the day with any of these sort of cooking shows and where it’s a competition there has to be that element of giving advice that’s constructive and something that hopefully pushes forward. … At the bottom line for all these contestants ... I’m rooting for them to do well.
Here's what else you should know about the Food Network's newest mentor in Food Network Star Kids.
He Was In Boy Bands
Skehan was a member of the Irish boy bands Streetwize and Industry, which formed in 2009 and spawned the hit song "My Baby's Waiting" during that same year. Industry even opened for the Pussycat Dolls at one point, according to Skehan's bio on his official site. But the band broke up in 2010. Skehan also released a solo single "Double Cross My Heart."
Ultimately, he told Icon Versus Icon that he decided to change his career focus to food. "The music thing was there and I absolutely love the process and performing in front of 15,000 people is awesome but it is not really sustainable for a long period of time," Skehan said with a laugh. "You see these pop acts come and go, so focusing on the food side of things was more of a realistic career option."
He's A Former Food Blogger
Like many food personalities these days, Skehan began expressing his love of food in a blog called The Good Mood Food Blog, according to his official bio, and it wound up earning the award for Best Irish Food Blog in 2009. The blog led to him publishing seven cookbooks, including Good Mood Food: Simple, Healthy Homecooking, the Kitchen Hero series, Home Cooked, and Fresh.
"My point of difference was that not only did I cook the food but I photographed it," he told Icon Versus Icon in an interview. "That really set what I was doing apart. That was an absolutely key part of what food is. Not only does it have to be delicious but it has to be extremely appealing."
He Got His Love Of Food From His Family
Skehan told Icon Versus Icon that his family has always been in the food business in various capacities, which inspired him to start cooking at age 8.
"My mom would always encourage use to get in the kitchen and try new things," he told the website. "That was kind of what sparked the interest. I was baking at that stage and it transitioned into more grown up dishes when I was about 12 or 13 years old."
He Has His Own Shows On European TV
Skehan has starred in Kitchen Hero on Ireland's RTÉ and on UK TV network Good Food, Junior MasterChef on the BBC, and UK Food Network's Follow Donal. Food Network Star Kids is his American TV debut.
"It’s a bit of a dream for me," he told Icon Versus Icon. "I have been doing what I have been doing in Ireland for about eight years now and for me to cross the waters and have a TV show over here is thrilling and exciting!"
He's A Newlywed
Last year, Skehan married longtime love Sofie Larsson, who is Swedish, according to Ireland's Evoke.
He Enjoys Working With The Kids
Although working with the younger cooks is new, Skehan told Food Network in an interview that he enjoys watching the kids progress throughout the show — as well as the young chefs' candid feedback.
"If you’re wearing, like, different, weird-looking clothes or if your hair’s not right or if you say something or you mess up, they’re going to call you out on it, and I love that," he said. "Kids just say it like it is. They saunter on in and they basically deliver it, which is a good thing and a bad thing."
Sounds like Skehan will fit right in on the American Food Network as well.