Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 12/14/2015

Story by Dave Rush – photos courtesy of Anthony Hunt

Tamarac, FL - When The BASS ZONE last featured Anthony “5oz.” Hunt in December of 2013, the affable Floridian was in the midst of realizing his dream of mixing the world of culinary arts and bass fishing, with the launch of his ‘Boat Appetite’ guide service.  Throw in fishing the FLW Rayovac Series as a boater, being a consultant for some of the best restaurants in the Miami area, and fulfilling his most important role as the consummate family man, and you have the makings of one busy schedule.

The perseverance and hard work have paid off for Hunt over the last two years, resulting in the accomplishment of many of his goals.  The latest feather in his cap is an appearance on The Food Network’s hit reality cooking series Chopped. 

The following is a candid Q&A session with Anthony “5oz.” Hunt shortly following the premier of Season 5, episode #26 of Chopped, titled “Chopped Desserts!”

Congratulations on the appearance on the Food Network, how exactly did this opportunity to be a contestant on Chopped come about?
“The entire process started roughly two years ago when I submitted my information and applied for a previous season.  To make a long story short I made it through part of the process, but was not able to make the final cut and actually get onto the show.  This time around they were in the Miami area looking for contestants and came into my restaurant trying to find some chefs who might be interested in the opportunity.  I jumped on it right away, and started the journey that it takes to get onto the Food Network.  Several lengthy phone and Skype interviews later and I landed the spot on Chopped!  The timing was just right for me this go around, and I think the difference was learning from the first interview process that I just needed to be myself, and let the producers of the show see my true personality.”

Once you landed a spot on the show what happened next as far as the filming of content goes?
“The first thing that happens is that you sign a confidentiality agreement, which basically states that you cannot tell anyone that isn’t involved in the actual filming about the opportunity.  The next step involved the Food Network coming down to Florida and filming some segments with myself and my family, as well as several hours on the water actually fishing as well.  Unfortunately they decided not to use a lot of the content we got that involved fishing, but I totally understand because that was really not the focus of the show, and you are dealing with limited time and four contestants as well.  Once that was all wrapped up after a few months I got my itinerary and flew out to New York to film the show.”

What does a day filming on the set of Chopped look like for a contestant?
“It’s sort of like a tournament day actually.  It starts at 5 AM, and you are on the set for 10 hours in what I would describe as formulated chaos.  The tension level on the set between the contestants is high, and there isn’t a moment to catch your breath.  You are pretty much on the go the entire time from start to finish, and it’s on the Chopped stage in front of the cameras and the judges, so it is pretty intense.

Can you compare practicing for the Chopped episode with practicing for a tournament?
“It is two totally different things entirely, but at the same time I was able to use my experiences from both sides of the fence to prepare.  I think I watched every single episode of Chopped, as well as other reality style cooking shows to learn as much as I could.  The process was actually very similar to what I would do in gathering information about a body of water I would be competing on.  Seeing all of the mystery baskets of ingredients from the past episodes, and asking myself what I would do in that situation was a huge help in preparing for the show itself.  As a competitive angler I constantly try to spend time on the water fishing different conditions and scenarios to prepare for that moment when they may occur during a tournament.  So in that aspect prepping for the Chopped experience was very similar.  Keeping that mental calmness that I strive to keep during an intense tournament day was the same even keel attitude I tried to keep during the entire Chopped experience.”

The entire premise of Chopped is based on making decisions on the fly, which is very similar to adapting during a day on the water.  How did those experiences as an angler help you during the competition?
“I really credit fishing for a lot of my success on the show.  Although I wasn’t the Chopped champion, I still look at the experience and my performance on the show as a success.  Practicing achieving mental calmness and stillness while on the water has been a huge key for me in achieving my goals both on and off the water.  When you are in a kitchen with 350 people on the books for the evening you are rocking and rolling, but there is a plan and you are cooking off a set menu.  During Chopped you have no idea what you will be cooking, because the ingredients and concept are a mystery.  With that being said you can bring it back to fishing because you are normally adapting your plan on the water to what the conditions are allowing and what the fish are telling you.”

Describe the experience and emotions that you felt when you opened the first basket of ingredients in front of the cameras and judges...
“This is something I haven’t told anyone else during interviews I’ve done following the show.  In my opinion I was five seconds from literally passing out when I opened that basket.  Now I’ve never fainted before, but I felt like something was about to happen.  If you look really closely you can see me sweating in the first segment.  It was a horrible feeling but I was able to overcome it and just find that mental groove I needed to be in to get the job done.  Before I knew it the 30 minutes were up and I was standing in front of the judges presenting my creation.”

What lessons or knowledge did you take away from the experience that you believe will assist you in your career and life moving forward?
“Anything that I haven’t succeeded in throughout my life I have always attributed to the fact that I hadn’t learned enough at that point to have been successful.  Accepting errors that you make, and learning from those errors are crucial in moving forward and ultimately reaching your goals.  I was trained in a classical European culinary background, which is extremely disciplined.  I was taught to take criticism and use it to better my abilities.  The critiques from the Chopped judges, although all of them I didn’t totally agree with, were things I looked at as building blocks to progress to other shows and better my abilities as a chef.”

How has your appearance on Chopped been received by your sponsors in the fishing industry and your fellow anglers?
“It’s been all positive energy from the sponsors and in general everyone else who has seen the episode.  There were definitely some strange looks being shot my way when I showed up in the Chopped studio to film with a Live Target frog and a Gary Yamomoto D-Shad hanging from my dreadlocks.  I’m pretty sure not many of the people involved with the show knew anything at all about fishing, so that was cool to be able to expose a new audience to bass fishing.  My approach to the fishing industry has always been unique in the first place, so this was just another step in the plan to breach new horizons in getting my sponsors the proper exposure and putting myself in a position to branch out as well.”

For those people who haven’t seen the episode where can they find it, and also what are your plans for 2016?
“The episode will definitely be re-aired on the Food Network, or you can go check it out on www.foodnetwork.com.  As far as what I have planned for 2016 it is nothing but positive moves in furthering my career, both as a chef and within the fishing industry.  I am definitely going to take a step back from fishing somewhat, but still plan to compete as a co-angler in the Rayovac series and do some BFL and local events here at home.  My main focus will be getting involved with more cooking shows, as well as spending as much quality time with my family as possible.  You can always keep up with what I’m up to by following me on Instagram @5OZ94 or checking out my Anthony Hunt YouTube page (5OZ94) where I will be posting some awesome new cooking and fishing videos in 2016!”