Chuey Martinez: New host of Travel Channel’s “All You Can Meat”
AG: Hi Chuey, how are you?
CM: What’s up, homie? How are you doin’?
AG: I’m good, how are you?
CM: Houston, huh?
AG: Yup, Houston!
CM: I was just in Texas for like a week and a half. I wish I would’ve known you, ‘cause I would’ve called and just been like, “Girl, come meet me here!”
AG: Where were you at in Texas?
CM: We were everywhere. I was…we went to so many places. We went to, like, no lie to you, Alex, we went to 15 ranches.
AG: Oh wow.
CM: Yeah, I went to so many “ranchos,” and I had flashbacks. Of course, my great-grandfather had a ranch in Mexico, so it was really nice, took me back to my childhood. I would find a tree and cry behind it, kept my composure!
AG: Well that’s good!
CM: Yeah! But we went to so many ranches over there, had a good time over there.
AG: That’s awesome! So can you explain to the readers a little bit about your show, “All You Can Meat?”
CM: Of course! The show, “All You Can Meat,” premieres August 15th at 10 p.m. on the Travel Channel. It’s basically me travelling around the country, of course eating some of the best barbecue, and preparing some of the best barbecue, and interacting with some amazing characters and people that live in this beautiful country. Just doing that, and just seeing the obsession that we have. America, we have this obsession with meat, we love burgers, we love steak, we love hot dogs, we love our brisket, we love our ribs, we’ve got a lot of good stuff. You know, I’m just seeing that, seeing what the obsession is, having fun while I’m doing it, and of course eating some great food.
AG: What is your favorite cut of meat?
CM: Man…I’m going to be typical right now. You know, the Mexican side really loves the carne asada, but the Dominican side…I definitely like a good piece of chicken. Un pica-pollo, that’s what we call it in the Dominican Republic. Un pica-pollo. I think that’s like the best thing you can ever eat. You can get a whole chicken in the Dominican Republic for like $2, so that beats everyone, you know? A pica-pollo all day long or a carne asada all day long, and I’ll be happy.
AG: You mentioned being both Mexican and Dominican. Which culture has influenced your life more, and in what ways?
CM: Wow, which one has influenced me more? You know what, it’s so funny, because when my friends or my family hear me speaking Spanish, they’re like, “Wow, where are you from? You’re definitely Caribbean.” It’s funny, because I was raised around mostly all Mexicans and Cubans, but I also had my Dominican cousins around. I got that Caribbean twang, you know, I got that Caribbean-Dominican twang that I can’t quite shake. So when you hear me speak Spanish, it’s definitely Caribeño. I’ve been around all my cultures, but I have to say that all of them have influenced me. In my cooking, in the way I live my life, you know, they all influenced me. They’re all beautiful cultures. I think I’m actually pretty lucky that I’m mixed. I love being mixed with all different flavors, all different cultures. I love it.
AG: What was the inspiration for this show?
CM: I think the inspiration for the show was to really learn and get a grasp of why people love meat in this country, and why we have this fascination and obsession with barbecue. Whether you’re Latino, whether you’re Anglo living in the Midwest, we all love to gather, and we all love to gather with our families, we love to eat together. I think barbecue unifies us! (Laughs) We love to barbecue. Alex, you probably love to barbecue as well, right?
AG: I do! I’m Mexican, so my family has the Mexican barbecue. Fajitas, rice, beans, pico de gallo, all of that.
CM: Right. I had some of the best fajitas I’ve ever had in Austin, Texas. It was the fajitas with tortillas, and it had guacamole, salsa, a little bit of sour cream and cheese, and it was off the hook, Alex.
AG: What restaurant was it at?
CM: It wasn’t at a restaurant. It was with a bunch of guys that compete professionally. His name was Sierra, and his family…you know I can actually get you that information if you really need it.
AG: Oh yeah, I mean, that’s cool. I went to school in Austin for four years, and I was definitely a meat person during that time.
CM: Did you ever go to Sugar Shack?
AG: No, I didn’t! But I heard about it.
CM: Dude, the Sugar Shack is absolutely amazing. I had the “Notorious P.I.G.” It’s like a pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw, and it’s amazing. The two guys that own the Sugar Shack are raza! They are completely Mexican. We were there, and we had a great time with those guys.
AG: So obviously you’ve been filming then already, right?
CM: Yeah, I’m still filming, and I have three episodes left. I’m having such a great time, Alex, it’s just really fun to be travelling around the country just talking to people and exploring and arm-wrestling great-grandmothers, because that’s what I’m doing, and having tea in North Carolina with a bunch of Tias. The show’s not only just going to be about me, it’s going to be about life and my experiences and me travelling across the country. So I think when people watch that, it’s going to be a breath of fresh air, especially for television, you know? There’s not a lot of creativity happening right now in television. I just feel like when people watch the show, they’re really going to be like, “Wow, this is pretty cool.”
AG: What has been your craziest experience so far while filming?
CM: I think the craziest experience while filming was just recently, actually, in Louisiana. I had never seen an alligator up close, and I had never seen an alligator being fed, like, in person. Seeing that…wow. Seeing a 14 or 15-foot alligator right in front of your face being fed chicken, that was pretty gnarly, dude, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was pretty awesome. And canoeing. Canoeing through the Bayou in Louisiana, it was pretty awesome. It was pretty fun.
AG: What made you want to go into this line of work?
CM: Well my background – for the majority of my career – has been radio. I continue to have a radio show here on 102.7 KIIS FM here in L.A., and I’m on Sirius XM. It just naturally happened. It was just a natural progression into something else. I’ve been doing TV for five years now with MTV Tr3s here in Los Angeles, I’ve been doing that, and now I’m also doing some stuff with ESPN and ESPN Deportes here in L.A. I’m just looking at every facet, every angle I can pretty much dive into, every career I can dive into, every median I can see myself doing. I definitely got the opportunity to do this show and just decided I really wanted it. I auditioned for it, and I got it. I feel really blessed.
AG: How did this project come together? How did you hear about it, and how did you decide you wanted to do it?
CM: You know, thank God for my agents! (laughs) Thank God for my agents, they’re awesome. Shout out to IMG, I love you guys. They’re pretty amazing, and they got me the meeting and I got the audition for the show. I auditioned for the show, and I had only a day to prepare for the show. They called me, and they were like, “Chuey, this is a rush audition, they need a tape of you, like, today, talking about barbecue or doing something.” I was like, “All right, cool,” so I get my buddies and we go to a spot in Burbank to eat barbecue. They’re recording me, I’m talking to people inside the restaurant, and we went to the house, edited the whole videotape down, my audition tape, and we sent it to them. I didn’t hear anything. They were just like, “Hey, we’ll let you know.” Two weeks later, I get a phone call, and they’re like, “Chuey, we have some really great news for you.” I was just like, “Okay, what’s up? What’s going on?” They were like, “Travel Channel loves you, the production company loves you, and the casting director loves you. We just want to tell you congratulations, you are the new host of ‘All You Can Meat.’” I couldn’t believe it. I start screaming. You know, because we’re emotional, we’re emotional Latinos. I screamed, like, “Oh my God,” like the Holy Ghost was in me, and Alex, it still hasn’t hit me to be honest with you. I just feel really blessed, and I’m excited. I want everybody to watch this, and I want everybody to know how much fun I’m having making the show. I hope they have fun watching it.
AG: What has been your favorite part so far? I mean, obviously you get to eat some really good food, but other than that, what’s been your favorite thing about this show? Like, if you were a watcher, if you were watching this show, what would be your favorite thing about it?
CM: My favorite thing about it so far, I think , is just the interaction I have with people. I think before the food – the food is amazing – but having these experiences that I’m having with people are great. You know, like hanging out with grandmas in Kansas City, hanging out with Tias and drinking tea in Charlotte, and also hanging out with families of Katrina survivors in New Orleans. I think that was amazing. For a family to have lost everything in Katrina and barely moving into their home, not even a year, and for them to invite me to their home to eat, I think that was beautiful.
AG: How do you find these places to eat? What kind of research is done before you go and eat at these places?
CM: There are lots of stops that I’m throwing out there, because I know of some good barbecue spots in the country. That’s my production team, my producers. The producers I’m working with are great, doing lots of research, and finding families. You know, we’re trying to stay away from the whole, like, me going to a restaurant, because people have done that already. Me going to a restaurant with a camera crew, it’s not like that. It’s like me going into a city and hanging out with the people that have been making ribs for years and making their family’s secret recipes for years. It’s me hanging out with people on the block, in the backyard, at a community center, you know, hanging out with them in front of their grills, their smokers, chillin’ with their families. It’s not just me in a restaurant talking to a professional chef. It’s far from that. It’s life, it’s barbecue, it’s me travelling around the country, it’s me having fun.
AG: Being a Hispanic in the entertainment industry, what has it been like? Any advantages or disadvantages during your time in the industry?
CM: I think – to be honest with you, Alex – there’s going to be disadvantages in every profession, in every situation. Professionally, in this industry, in media, what have you. I think, right now, if you’re Latino, bilingual, you’re young, you’re old, whatever, you’re male, you’re female, whatever. I think, right now, it’s the time for the Latinos, especially in media, when it comes to radio, television, it’s our time right now. I think it’s a huge advantage to be Latino right now, because we are the number one consumer in the country. Do we have the most buying power in this country? The answer is yes. I believe you should be proud of who you are, proud of your heritage, be proud of where you came from, be proud of where your family came from. You know, in my situation, my great-grandparents were campesinos, they were field workers in Arizona picking strawberries. My great-grandfather worked in the coal mines in Arizona. It’s like, you have to understand and you have to know where you came from to really appreciate and grasp the power that we have now, you know, what they did for us, all the sacrifices they made for us back then so we could have that advantage now, and I think we really do.
AG: What do you see as your next move? I know you’ve got your hands full with this show, but let’s say…five years from now, where would you like to see yourself?
CM: Five years from now, Alex, I’m going to have my own late night talk show.
AG: Awesome, that sounds great!
CM: I’m laying the foundation for all that good stuff down right now, because I will have my own late night talk show. Will it happen in five years? I’m hoping to God it will. Maybe it’ll happen in less than five years, maybe it’ll happen in three years, four years. But that’s what I’m laying the groundwork for now. Do I want to be the next Conan or Jimmy Fallon? You know, sure, I’d like to have their time-slots, but I’m definitely going to have my own flavor, my own spin to it. That’s what my ultimate goal is.
AG: So is there anything else I haven’t touched on that you’d like the people of Houston to know about you or about your show?
CM: Just, you know, I hope everybody enjoys the show. I want everyone to know that I enjoyed making it. I’m still filming it, and to just watch it, support it, and just in advance, thank you everyone for the love and support constantly to my family and my fans, of course. Let’s just rock and roll, let’s have fun, and just know that with me, it’s 100 percent real, nothing really scripted, and what you see is what you get with Chuey Martinez. I hope they enjoy it.
AG: Well thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today.
CM: Alex, I really appreciate you, thank you so much.