There are many good-looking men on Instagram, and we all have our favorites. Total transparency here — one of my favs is the broad-shouldered, bearded hunk, Brad Mahlof. Brad first appeared on the Instinct Magazine radar in 2019 when he and his equally hunky Rugby teammates bared all (almost) for a charity calendar.
Brad was a standout in the calendar —a combination of athletic, rugged brawn, a gorgeous head of hair, a beautiful face and welcoming, warm eyes. And I’d be remiss not to mention the butt on that man — Lawd h’ mercy! (Yea, it’s in the charity calendar.)
But Brad is more than a walking live-action version of Gaston from Beauty and The Beast. He’s also an avid world traveler and food and wine enthusiast who will be among the featured contestants in the upcoming hit PBS show THE GREAT AMERICAN RECIPE – Season 2.
As a notable inspirational competition, THE GREAT AMERICAN RECIPE honors the diversity that gives American cuisine its vibrancy and distinctiveness and will feature nine exceptional home cooks displaying their culinary prowess. The finalists in Season 2 exhibit the delectable diversity of American home cooking of various cooking methods influenced by the contestants’ many cultures, from Guyanese to Greek, Libyan to Lithuanian, the Caribbean to Native American, and Midwestern to Traditional Hawaiian.
Brad is one of the most impressive amateur chefs in the competition and you can check out his mouth-watering IG account where he cooks up scrumptious kitchen creations — sometimes seemingly naked, wearing only an apron.
I caught up with Brad recently to learn more about his PBS show experience and his passions outside of the kitchen. And, I may or may not have even brought up that sexy calendar too, but don’t judge me. It’s not my fault. That booty left an indelible impression!
Interview with Amateur Chef Brad Mahlof:
CA: So, Brad, some people cook very well as a hobby, but anyone who follows your IG knows you can really throw down in the kitchen. How did you develop your culinary skills, and is it just a hobby or a career aspiration?
BM: Thank you, I learned to cook by watching my mom and aunts in the kitchen as a child and have fond memories of cooking from a young age. I cook because I enjoy nurturing others and love to use food as a way to story-tell and bring people together. I’m basically a Jewish grandmother.
As to whether food is a future career aspiration… maybe. If I could find a way to professionally share my love of food, cooking, entertaining and hosting and still be able to pay my bills, sign me up! (if any readers want to hire me for a private dinner party or cooking classes, hit me up).
CA: Some of the more elaborate meals I’ve seen you prepare were in celebration of various Jewish holidays. How much does your heritage inspire your passion for cooking?
BM: I’ve often been told that my weekly shabbat dinners are basically the equivalent of cooking a multi-course Christmas-style dinner every week. My Judaism and spirituality are very important to me, as is honoring multi-generational Jewish tradition. Food is front and center at most Jewish holidays and there is something special knowing that the foods I cook today are the same that my great-great-grandparents cooked for their loved ones. I hope to continue to pass down these traditions.
I am really passionate about representing my Jewish heritage through food, especially my Libyan roots, which lacks representation on a global scale. The majority of the Libyan Jewish community left Libya in the 1950s and today, there are no Jews left in Libya. This once thriving community now only remains through stories of the past. My paternal grandparents left Libya and raised their 16 children in Israel and now my family helps memorialize this once rich and beautiful history through our food.
CA: You stay in great shape despite being around all that delicious food. I’d be 300 lbs. We featured you in 2019 in a story about your rugby team posing in the buff in a calendar for charity. So, is rugby what keeps you staying so fit and burning calories?
BM: I appreciate that. I love to workout which I think helps me “stay in shape” but I definitely have a bit of a dad bod and my weight naturally fluctuates (and am okay with that) I’d rather be fat and jolly than a skinny b*tch. I am not currently playing rugby, but I do enjoy CrossFit and Olympic lifting to stay in shape.
CA: By the way, let me say I still have that calendar, and clearly, you must not miss leg day or squats at the gym, like ever — very impressive. But now… back to cooking, lol…do you have a signature dish, and if so, what makes it unique?
BM: Thank you, I do love leg day at the gym and get a lot of satisfaction from lifting heavy. I love to cook recipes that showcase my Libyan, Israeli and Ashkenazi background while also incorporating global culinary influences inspired by my love of travel. I love to prepare hand-rolled couscous from scratch…instant couscous just doesn’t compare to the perfectly light and fully-from-scratch version. It’s a labor of love but worth the effort. I usually pair this with various meat stews.
CA: When cooking, how do you balance creativity with science and technical skill? Like are you by-the-book with recipes or more experimental?
BM: I am not a “technical” cook. The skills I’ve learned in the kitchen are through years of trial and error and I am definitely still learning. I cook by intuition and feeling (I’m terrible at following recipes). My cooking style emphasizes the importance of sourcing quality, seasonal, and local ingredients. If I were to give one cooking tip to readers, I’d say taste your food as you go and season throughout all stages of the cooking process.
CA: There were many other contestants, but what do you believe sets you apart from the other amateur chefs in PBS’s Great American Recipe competition?
BM: I think my messy workstation definitely set me apart from the competition! Please watch the show, and then you can let me know what sets me apart. But in all seriousness, for me, the beauty of the show was having the opportunity to get to know my fellow cooks. While our cultures and foods are wildly different, you come to realize that we’re also all very similar. Food unites people and that’s beautiful.
CA: Whenever I watch TV cooking competitions, I get anxious just watching them try to create a winning dish while beating the clock. How did you handle the pressure of cooking under time constraints in a competition setting?
BM: There is definitely a difference when cooking in the Zen of your own kitchen vs cooking with major time constraints, in a foreign space, trying to push your culinary limits to impress a panel of esteemed judges. That being said, I generally thrive under pressure and love a challenge. My goal coming on the show, though, was less about winning and more about having a platform to tell my story through my food.
CA: Your IG is such a wonderful culmination of you really living life to its fullest. What are your favorite things to do outside of cooking?
BM: I appreciate that. While I consider myself a homebody (which is probably why I love to cook and bring the party to me), I love to travel. This year I have had some amazing travel experiences, which included skiing in the Alps, Aspen, and Vermont, going to the Superbowl in Arizona, the Daytona 500 and F1 races in Florida, and traveling to several countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Jordan, Israel, and Mexico.
I am a big fan of classical music, and both the NY Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera are my happy places in NYC. If you have not been to the gorgeous newly redone NY Philharmonic space at Lincoln Center, definitely check it out! I also love real estate investing, interior design, hiking, scuba-diving, food & wine, and of course, my adorable Chocolate Lab, Logan.
CA: What would winning the Great American Recipe mean to you, and how would you use the experience to further your culinary career?
BM: Just being part of this experience has been extremely rewarding. I’m honored to have this platform to share my recipes, my Jewish heritage, my story, and my passion for food. I loved being able to compete while also cooking fully kosher, hopefully demystifying what Kosher actually means (and helping viewers see that kosher food can be tasty). I’d love to win and make my family proud, showcase the amazingness of Jewish cuisine, and it might also give me a push to consider a future in food.
CA: And lastly, I must ask because I have a feeling that inquiring minds will want to know: Is Brad Mahlof taken or still on the market? (I couldn’t resist the cooking pun.)
BM: I am not on the market. I won’t give away too many details, but I am very fortunate to have found a wonderful and super supportive partner. Funny enough, we connected online right before the show began filming and somehow found time to chat every night on the phone, even with the very long days of filming and cooking. As soon as the show wrapped up, I flew out to meet him in person for the first time, and the rest is history.
Oh and wait, by the way, did I mention Brad also has an identical twin brother?! There’s literally two of them, twice the hotness… and I CAN’T EVEN!