5 Questions With Robert Irvine of 'Restaurant: Impossible'

Kellie Freeze
Q&A Food Network

In every episode of Restaurant: Impossible, airing Saturdays on Food Network, Chef Robert Irvine heads to a restaurant that is on the brink of collapse and, armed with two days and $10,000, he and his team transform the business and the people who work there.

In the August 31 episode, Irvine and his team head to northern Wisconsin to help a small-town steakhouse that is a month away from closing. “There were a lot of challenges,” teases Irvine. “The location, the decor, the food — and the owner literally couldn’t tell me how much money she made on Monday and this was a Tuesday!”

While we wait until Saturday to see if he can turn Besse’s on Clear Lake from destitute into a destination, Irvine answered our “5 Questions.”

1. If your TV had only three shows or networks on it, what would you be watching?
Obviously, Food Network is one. I would say Amazon is another. And CNBC.

2. What three foods do you have to have in your fridge or pantry?
It’s funny because I travel 345 days a year, and 150 of those are with the military. So I really don’t have that much in there. But if I were to live at home, there would be a couple of things I would require. One would be some type of butter. … Vinegar in the pantry is very important to me. Lemons or limes in the refrigerator, and eggs.

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3. What foods would you choose as your last meal?
Roast chicken and mashed potatoes.

4. What made you go into cooking?
My mother was a terrible cook, but one meal that she made, which was always unbelievable, was a Sunday roast. And that was our time when my dad would come home from work and we would literally sit around the table. No phone, no interruptions. Just that. And I think we’ve gotten away from that amazing thing — it’s called communication.

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'Food is good, and food with a story is better!' he says.

5. Who would you like to host for a dinner party?
I’d like to host all heads of state of our free world. Because I would have a dish from each of those countries, a national dish. Close your eyes, imagine a big table where every head of state would take one bite of their national dish and pass it around this table to the right. We would learn more about the culture and the country from this one dinner. There would be not as many problems in our world if we understand each other’s culture, traditions and lives. I truly believe that things can be fixed and addressed through food.

Restaurant: Impossible, Saturdays, 9/8c, Food Network