Steve Caposio donates winnings to sister-in-law now battling breast cancer

Published in the December 23, 2015 – January 5, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Staff Report

Photo by Marty Cheek Steve Caposio celebrates with friends watching him on “Cutthroat Kitchen.”

Photo by Marty Cheek
Steve Caposio celebrates with friends watching him on “Cutthroat Kitchen.”

Surrounded by about 100 of his close friends and family in his Holiday Lake Estates home, Morgan Hill resident Steve Caposio kept a secret, one that would be revealed on TV to all of America just before 8 p.m. Dec 13. That night, he was featured on the popular reality show “Cutthroat Kitchen” hosted by Alton Brown. The 49-year-old contractor with a passion for cooking was one of four competitor chefs.

As the minutes ticked by, Caposio’s friends watched the “We Don’t Need Another Gyro” episode on various televisions throughout his home. They cheered their flamboyant friend on when he said something outrageous.

The contestants faced a line-up of three dishes to cook, with 30 minutes allowed for each. The first dish Brown demanded was crabs cake Benedict. One participant forgot to get eggs out of the pantry before the doors closed. Big mistake. The lack of eggs in an egg dish got him kicked off the competition.

The second dish was a Greek gyro. At one point during this part of the competition, Caposio lost all of his pantry-found ingredients and was given a second set of ingredients — concealed in about 250 pounds of hardened plaster that he had to spend 10 minutes with hammer and chisel to get to.

“I’m getting tired. I’m swinging the hammer — boom, boom, boom. My sweats pouring down. My knuckles are cut. Get out of there you son of a… There’s something here but it looks like it’s a pineapple. Who puts pineapple in a gyro?!” he exclaimed on the TV show to the laughter of his friends.

Caposio barely survived the second round.

The third round was a rhubarb pie-making competition. Caposio’s fellow competitor was give a special “pi” pan shaped as the famous mathematical symbol.

At the end of the show, when the judge announced Caposio was the winner, he leaped around his living room, shaking hands and getting pats on the back from friends and family.

He made an announcement to everyone. He was giving a check for $7,000 from the $10,700 he won on the show to his sister-in-law Sally Brown who is now going through treatment for breast cancer.

“It looks like she’s winning,” he said.

The second announcement is that the producers of the show thought Caposio was so entertaining as a chef personality, they invited him for “Cutthroat Kitchen’s” Tournament of Champions special show. It will film in downtown Los Angeles in February, he said.

Caposio’s journey started when the “Cutthroat Kitchen” talent scouts read an article about him in Creative Independent Artists, a Los Angeles-focused magazine. They reached out to him and did an interview over Skype to see how much personality he has. (Morgan Hill people who know him would have told them he has a larger-than-life energy.)

Filming of the show took place at the Food Network studio in Los Angeles.

“It’s totally amazing. I’ll tell you it’s the most difficult thing I have ever done around food,” he said. “It doesn’t really look like it, but you’re handling time management, money management, food management, cooking gourmet food, being on camera and trying to come across entertaining. There’s a lot of elements in that show.”

One of the creative aspects of the show is how the producers throw in “sabotages” to make it harder on the chefs. One of the contestants had to make her gyro while spinning around in a “human rotisserie.”

“Alton and the producers always come up with sabotages that are do-able, but you really have to have a good head on your shoulders to get through them,” Caposio said.

The “pi pan” sabotage won him the contest, he said. “Chef Carla got the pi pan and wasn’t able to amend her dish. She need to start over.”
Caposio’s been cooking since he was about six or seven years old, he said.

“I just love to feed people. I don’t believe you need a culinary pedigree to make good quality, delicious food. I think that with a little bit of training and a bit of inspiration, anybody can do it.”

He also shares his passion for kitchen time by teaching other people how to cook by giving classes in his home kitchen or other people’s kitchens.

“I love to cook,” he said. “I spend most of my time decompressing in the kitchen. I have a lot of experience and that’s what served me well. When they throw these things at you, you have to be able to within a few minutes make an eggs Benedict and make a Hollandaise sauce and not overcook the eggs, and make an almost fairly decent crab cake.”

Of the three dishes he had to concoct for “Cutthroat Kitchen,” he enjoyed making the crab cakes Benedict the best.

“I chose the Hawaiian sweet bread for my carb. I poached my egg perfectly and I made an almost perfect Hollandaise sauce and a pretty good crab cake under stress,” he said. “When you have 10 or 12 minutes to poach an egg and make a crab cake and toast the bread and make a Hollandaise sauce, that’s not easy to do.”