DES MOINES, Iowa -- With his big beard and trademark cycling hat, Sam Auen is hard to miss. Now, he's about to get even more exposure when he appears on the Food Network’s Guy's Grocery Games on Sunday night with Guy Fieri.
“Grocery Games is kinda like Chopped meets Cutthroat Kitchen meets Supermarket Sweep but with less time to cook,” said Auen.
The competition pits Auen, the owner of Tacopocalypse and Krunkwich Ramen House, against other chefs who have appeared on Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Contestants have a maximum of 30 minutes to run through a market, find their ingredients, and then whip up a dish to impress a panel of judges.
Auen says that skill set is right up his alley.
“Part of the fun for me as a chef, or really for any chef, is that a la minute, ‘we've got this, what can we do, like what can we make out of this?’” said Auen.
Tacopocalypse was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives a few years ago, and Auen said the publicity from the show was unbelievable.
“When we first got started brick and mortar with Tacopocolypse and we got on DDD, that was like quadruple, quintuple our sales literally overnight," he said.
Notoriety aside, Auen said being able to represent his home state on a national stage is thrilling.
“I have a lot of pride in being to go on Food Network or any TV show and say, ‘hey, I'm from Des Moines,'" he said. "It's funny, the first time I was on Food Network people were like, 'wow, Des Moines,' and this last time I was in California shooting for Food Network they were like, 'hell yeah, Des Moines!'”
Auen said he's seen the Des Moines food scene explode over the last few years, and it's something he hopes to showcase on Sunday night.
“The amount of quality and inspiration in the food scene right now is unparalleled."
The episode airs Sunday night at 8 p.m. on the Food Network. If Auen wins, he will be in the running to take home a $30,000 prize.