A Niagara Falls restauranteur will soon get his time to shine on the small screen.
Jason Lizardo, the founder of the Rock Burger chain with three locations in Western New York, took part in an episode of the Food Network show “Guy’s Grocery Games,” which will air on May 24.
The episode in question will be “The Burger Ballers” episode, which is the burger-themed episode the show does once a season. Lizardo competed against three other burger chefs in different games for a chance to win $20,000. Lizardo could not get into the details of the episode yet.
“(The show producers) contacted me via email in July last year, asking me if I wanted to be part of the ‘Burger Ballers’ episode,” he said, going through a three-week application process before flying out to the West Coast to film.
Episodes of “Guy’s Grocery Games” are filmed in a warehouse in Santa Rosa, California, that has been converted into a grocery store with four chef stations. The episode was filmed in one day in August, though not in front of a studio audience. Lizardo did wear clothes sporting Rock Burger on them, as the competing chefs were able to wear business attire.
Alongside the show’s host Guy Fieri, there are three other celebrity chefs who serve as the shows judges in the episode. Like the events of the episode, Lizardo could not share who the three judges were.
“Guy interacted with everyone there like it was normal,” Lizardo said. “He was encouraging, motiving, an all-around cool guy.”
Rock Burger, which Lizardo has run for the past seven years, features stuffed burgers where the meat patties have a filling inside them, often including cheese and other foods. Locations also serve un-stuffed burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. The restaurant’s locations are on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Niagara Falls and Tonawanda and Union Road in Cheektowaga, with another location in Buffalo in the works.
Lizardo said his experience was challenging and great and that he hopes to do it again. With other restaurants and chefs who appear on Food Network shows receiving a boost in attention after their particular episode airs, he thinks the same would happen to him, hoping to appear on other shows in the future and allowing Rock Burger to expand further across New York state and the country.
“It’s an honor to be chosen to be one of the four people on the show,” Lizardo said, unsure if there have been anyone else from Niagara Falls to appear on the show. He follows other WNY chefs who have appeared in various Food Network programming recently, including pastry chef Camille Le Caer, who appeared on an episode of “Chopped,” Brent and Caitlin Esposito, who run Tonawanda’s Espo’s Catering and appeared on “NFL Tailgate Takedown,” Darian Bryan, owner of the Planting Society in Larkinville who won an episode of “Supermarket Stakeout,” and Brian Muffoletto and Nick Napierala of Lancaster’s The Baker’s Men, who appeared on two holiday cookie challenge shows last year.
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