Albany chefs on Food Network: Attitude problems and business reinvigoration – Times Union

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Albany chefs on Food Network: Attitude problems and business reinvigoration – Times Union

ALBANY — One is a veteran chef with an attitude. The other is struggling to expand her restaurant.That's how Food Network is pitching the episodes of

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ALBANY — One is a veteran chef with an attitude. The other is struggling to expand her restaurant.

That’s how Food Network is pitching the episodes of its new “Chef Boot Camp” series, due to debut April 8, that features the head chefs of two restaurants that are about seven blocks apart, on either end of Arbor Hill.

According to a network description of the show, “(E)ach episode … will put a trio of underperforming chefs through a grueling series of challenges to test their real-world culinary skills and fitness for the role.”

Shahila “Shy” Abbasi, who has been the head chef at McGeary’s since owner Tess Collins took over the venerable pub a decade ago, is scheduled to appear in the April 15 episode. An overview of the episode, provided by a network publicist, conflates the pre-McGeary’s time Abbasi was head chef at the Lark Tavern in Albany while Collins owned it. It describes Abbasi’s story this way: “Shy has spent 16 years running the kitchen at McGeary’s Pub in Albany, N.Y., but she has an attitude problem that could mean the end of her run.” The middle word of the episode’s title apparently refers to Abbasi: “Sloppy, Snarky and Silent.”

Abbasi, a voluble and confident person, laughed when read the Food Network description on Tuesday.

“It’s reality TV,” she said. “I’m not sensitive at all about anything they say about me or how they make me look.” Her sparky personality, she said, “was why they wanted me on the show.”

“I don’t have an attitude,” Abbasi said, “but you do have to be tough as a woman running a kitchen.”

Kizzy Williams, who opened the soul-food spot Allie B’s Cozy Kitchen to showcase her mother’s recipes seven years ago, appears in the April 29 episode, titled “I Will Be Great … Tomorrow.” From the network’s description: “(S)he needs to branch out to reinvigorate business.” Over the past two years, Williams, in addition to running her restaurant, has developed a former vacant lot in the West Hill neighborhood into a community resource called The Cultural Center. She did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

“Chef Boot Camp” is hosted by Cliff Crooks, culinary director of Manhattan-based ESquared Hospitality, which owns multiple dining spots under its BLT Restaurant Group brand. Episode dates may change, the publicist said.

The Times Union’s Food section of April 15 will feature interviews with Abbasi and Williams.

McGeary’s, at Clinton Avenue and North Pearl Street, is open daily for lunch and dinner. Allie B’s, at 353 Clinton Ave., opens at noon on Sunday and Wednesday through Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday, closed Monday and Tuesday.

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