Union resident competing on Hulu’s ‘Secret Chef’

UNION, NJ — Imagine a reality competition with no judges and the identities of contestants concealed. The only thing exposed is what matters the most — the food.

In Hulu’s ‘Secret Chef,’ chefs rate their competition’s dishes via blind taste tests. Ten contestants from all walks of life perform a series of cooking challenges.

Joshua Walbot is a highly skilled private chef who lives in Union. His love for cooking began when he was just 8 years old. While visiting relatives, he smelled flour yeast coming from the kitchen. His uncle was making pizza from scratch.

“Wow, that is so cool,” said the young, aspiring chef. “This is amazing; nothing like ordering out.” For the next three weeks, Walbot made pizza from scratch. “My whole family loves cooking,” he shared. “Mom loves cooking. Dad, too. I was surrounded by cooking all the time.”

During Walbot’s high school years, he won two statewide culinary competitions, creating three-course menus. This was when he realized, “Hey, I’m really good at this. It was a world I wanted to be in. It’s the best profession in the world; not only cooking food but nurturing people.”

Being Asian and growing up in Minnesota, Walbot said he had a diverse palate at a young age. Early on, he was a picky eater who would not eat vegetables. Eventually, after having bell peppers and mushrooms on pizza, he started eating more vegetables.

After graduating from high school, Walbot moved to New York to attend the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, which is where he met his wife, who is a pastry chef. He then went on to work at the three Michelin-starred restaurant, Eleven Madison Park, which he describes as “the most intense experience I ever had in my life.” While very stressful, he learned leadership qualities like showing up on time, having discipline in the kitchen, and functioning as a team.

“It was the quietest kitchen I heard in my life,” Walbolt said. “You don’t hear pans dropping. I loved going to work every day. It was love/hate. You’re on your feet a lot of hours with pressure to be perfect, trying to make everyone happy. I realized how organized my home became, always pushing to be better.”

During the pandemic, Walbolt developed his brand, Love Food More, where the motto is “Stay happy, stay hungry.” He services catering, pop-up gigs, creates content and has his signature product, Baby Daddy’s Hot Sauce.

Secret Chef premieres on Hulu on Thursday, June 29. The episodes were filmed in advance, but what happens remains a secret until the show airs. Walbot remained tight-lipped about the show, but did say that it was interesting and it was exciting being on it.

For anyone who’s considering a career in culinary arts, Walbot advises, “Have patience. Work hard. The industry is ever-changing — be open to change.”

Walbot’s future plans include building up his company and going on a vacation with his wife and two children. When he’s not working professionally, he enjoys cooking at home for his family.

For more information on Walbot’s brand, Love Food More, visit lovefoodmore.com/.

For more information on Secret Chef, visit press.hulu.com/shows/secret-chef/.