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American Splendor

DC's Louisiana chef goes national this summer.

David Guas

David Guas is not a man who spends a lot of time pondering superstardom. A frenetic life—a wife, two children and maintaining the spirited Bayou Bakery in Arlington—keeps his mind in lockstep with larger priorities. Obsession is absent; being David Guas, New Orleans-bred chef, is plenty enough.

Perhaps that's why he feels zero pressure about edging toward national acclaim as the host of American Grilled, debuting on the Travel Channel this month (Wednesdays, 9PM). What if the man who calls himself "the accidental pastry chef" becomes a television staple, much in the same way as Bobby Flay? "Wow, I don't know. I just signed a lease for a new Bayou Bakery in Southeast DC, and I still run out to see my kids play baseball," he says. "So, the idea of celebrity isn't something I worry about. I'm happy."

And one cannot help but believe him. Guas' career has been one of impressing gourmands—but on terms that don't have an ounce of artifice. He graduated from culinary school and ended up at the five-star, five-diamond Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans. The kitchen team desperately needed a pastry chef, and Guas seized the job as if he'd planned this route his entire culinary life. "I guess I impressed a lot of people. When Jeff Tunks—then the chef at Windsor—moved to Washington to launch DC Coast in 1998, he asked me to come along." Guas blossomed in the nation's capital. Confectionary kudos, a cookbook, multiple appearances on Today and the opening of Bayou Bakery followed.

The motivation for pursuing American Grilled at this stage of his career is curiosity, explains Guas. "I love the show because the producers allow me to explore ideas and be who I am—a guy who loves simple but amazing cooking methods," he says. Some of the country's finest amateur masters of the grill square off against each other each week, and, as host and one of three judges, Guas gets to learn as the show unfolds. There's no script, much like his life. Bayou Bakery, 1515 N. Courthouse Road, Arlington, Va, 703.243.2410

Guas' Hots
Speed juicing, microlot coffee, Belle Meade bourbon, marriage equality, The Sixties on CNN

Guas' Nots
Energy drinks, people wearing boat shoes who've never been on a boat, swearing in front of mom, fast food