Since ranking the top five Bar Rescue mixologists, the natural follow-up question has been who are the show’s best chefs? After all, the Paramount Network series doesn’t just cover behind the bar – it also focuses on the kitchens of said bars.
To that end, I’ve compiled a second list of my favorite Bar Rescue chefs to give those culinary experts their due as well. These are the chefs who not only have made standout menus during their appearances on the show but stand out themselves for a variety of reasons. While all the experts on the series have been watchable, these are the five I don’t think the series could have done without.
You can find them all in episodes either on Paramount Network (new episodes air Sundays at 10:00 p.m. while reruns air weekdays starting at 8:00 a.m.) or streaming on Amazon Video or iTunes.
5. Aaron McCargo Jr.
Aaron McCargo Jr. is one of Bar Rescue‘s longest tenured chefs, having first shown up in season 2 and still with the show as of season 6. He’s always comfortable when it comes to having a camera hovering around him, which is no surprise since he won season 4 of The Next Food Network Star. That’s an underrated quality; you try being in the middle of a kitchen during stress test and having to navigate a production crew besides.
But Aaron is also a great communicator. When he’s teaching a kitchen staff new dishes or critiquing their old ones, he’s direct and to the point. It’s not just do one thing or don’t do another; he’s clear about the why of it all, which makes the changes easier to process for the viewer (and presumably the staff, too).
And he does not mess around at all; he gets right into the trenches. Of all the Bar Rescue chefs, Aaron has to be one of the most intense. He pushes the people he works with hard but that’s because you can see him working equally hard to get them where they need to be.
4. Tiffany Derry
What’s unique about Tiffany Derry is that she’s the only Bar Rescue culinary expert to work with Jon Taffer on another show; she appeared alongside him on Hungry Investors, another Spike/Paramount Network series that disappeared after one season in 2014.
It’s not hard to see why he’d want to work more with her. Tiffany is the most high-energy chef in the kitchen; she raises the level up a notch just by walking in the door. Remember that she was voted fan favorite in her original season of Top Chef for a reason. Yet with that incredible warmth also comes great discipline. The episodes she’s been in have had her need to bring the hammer down on a few occasions, and she’s done that easily.
There aren’t many female chefs in the Bar Rescue rotation (yet) but Tiffany is representing in a great way. She’s fun to watch, strong when she needs to be, and comes up with recipes that sound like a great idea for everyone – even those of us watching at home.
3. Michael Ferraro
Michael Ferraro is criminally underrated. He doesn’t have the big personality of some of the other experts on the show; he’s usually fairly calm and has a more deadpan sense of humor. But don’t underestimate him – he’s as sharp as his knives and when he gets the chance to cut loose, can be really, really funny. Tonight’s Bar Rescue rerun, “Mississippi Rears,” is a great example when he strolls into the kitchen of a dive bar and just casually confronts the drinking, smoking cook like it’s nothing.
His reactions to things, whether they’re what he sees in the kitchen or during the recon, are often great. He and Ryan Scott probably are the most entertaining when it comes to the recon part of the show. And while Michael might not have a lot of “moments” that will go down in Bar Rescue history, I love watching him work because he’s like a scalpel cutting through all the kitchen nonsense. He puts his head down and does the job with a minimum of fuss. Those are the kinds of people I admire.
2. Ryan Scott
I think of Ryan Scott as the Rob Floyd of the kitchen. In fact, if you get Ryan Scott and Rob Floyd in the same episode, you’re guaranteed awesomeness. Watch the season 6 installment “Still Bill” where the duo do their own recon, Ryan literally spits a terrible cocktail out, and Rob’s reaction is priceless. Combination-wise, they are probably my favorite duo on Bar Rescue.
But Ryan, in addition to being talented, is the chef that all of us would be if we had to be the culinary expert on the show. What I absolutely adore about him is that he’s not afraid to say exactly what he’s thinking – which is usually what we’re all thinking. Whether it’s asking an overbearing owner why she’s yelling at him, or pointing out that somebody has no clue how to write a proper ticket, he’s not afraid to get a little snarky without being mean about it.
It’s entertaining as heck to watch but it’s also nice to see somebody who’s that honest. As with the mixologists, sometimes you get chefs who just don’t have a lot to say and so that part of the show starts to drag. Ryan always has something to say and it’s always worth hearing. When Jon sent him and Mia Mastroianni in to do recon in one of the most recent episodes, he seemed like he was actually having fun with it.
Plus, I’ll never forget the episode where Jon had Ryan order pizzas and then start handing them out in one bar. That is an all-time classic to me, second only to the episode where Josh Capon went into a bar, made a pizza, and brought it back to the recon SUV.
1. Brian Duffy
Brian Duffy is a rock star, metaphorically speaking. Which makes me all the more sad that he exited the show after season 3 (yet another reason why I call season 3 the best Bar Rescue season ever).
Firstly, I loved the way he was introduced in the show’s very second episode. Having him rescue the place he used to work at was awesome and something I don’t think we’ve ever seen on Bar Rescue since (though we have had two mixologists rescue bars that they used to patronize). Though he hadn’t worked at Downey’s in a while, Brian applied his experience in a way that was really spot-on, instead of just giving general feedback which is something that Bar Rescue occasionally falls into.
But what nabs Brian Duffy the top spot on my list is who he is outside of the kitchen. This is the guy who was infamously insulted by one of the bar owners he was working with and wasn’t afraid to step up – while also maintaining his professionalism. Other people may have quit or wanted to punch the guy in the face, but Brian said his piece and came back to work. (I also appreciated how when Jon went off on the same owner, you could see Brian instinctively protecting the episode’s mixologist in case a fight broke out. And they say chivalry is dead.)
Brian calls it like he sees it and stands his ground when he needs to. He’s similar to Jon Taffer in that he has a real presence about him. But you can also see how he really cares about the rescues he’s on (and also check out Opening Night, a show he did for Food Network last year, if you want to see more of him in a similar vein). He doesn’t just enjoy cooking; he enjoys helping other people get better at it. And he also seems like a guy who’d never run out of stories to tell around the dinner table or at the bar.
Bar Rescue airs Sundays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on Paramount Network.