EXCLUSIVE: Tyler Dirks on Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars Elimination and Pitch Problems

Tyler Dirks during Gordon Ramsay's Food Stars Season 2
Photo Credit: FOX

Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars Season 2 is off to an impressive start, but Tyler Dirks was the unfortunate first contestant sent packing when the competition got underway, and the first elimination took place.

The show, which airs on FOX, added an interesting dynamic for this season. Both Gordon Ramsay and Lisa Vanderpump have competing teams. Entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas, hoping to be added to either Team Ramsay or Team Vanderpump. Each team had seven contestants. The last competitor standing will take home a cool $250,000.

During the season premiere, Tyler pitched his company, Lite-Rite Charcoal Grills. The Jonesboro, Arkansas resident was added to Team Ramsay.

The first challenge was running a food truck. Team Ramsay went with Mexican food and called their truck Fiesta London. Tyler, who has no culinary experience, suggested a juggler to bring in hungry customers and keep people in the long lines entertained.

When Team Ramsay came up short, Tyler was sent home after The Grilling. Reality Tea spoke with Tyler about his experience on the show, what he thought of Gordon, and why his pitch didn’t go exactly as planned.

How Tyler Dirks built his companies

Photo Credit: FOX

“Well, I own two companies. You saw part of our company, Lite Rite Grill, on Food Stars. Me and my wife also own an established sales company for portable buildings [and] carports. It’s a high-volume sales company,” Tyler explained.

“Lite Rite, how I started it, I just always loved cooking over charcoal. And I started tinkering with ways to light charcoal faster and easier. I built a couple of prototypes on my back porch and I took that to manufacturers and started designing. That’s kind of how I got started with that. My love for charcoal and making charcoal easy.”

Tyler shared a bit more about why his product is special. “Lite-Rite charcoal grills [are] the fastest lighting charcoal grill in history. It’s a little family-run business. We love our grill, our customers love the grill, and we love getting it out there,” Tyler told us. “It’s a challenge, but at the same time, a fun challenge. It took me all the way to London.”

Tyler has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. “I’ve owned a lot of different businesses throughout my life. My first business, I was 16 [years old]. I started a lawn care company and I sold that at a good profit three or four years later.”

And the Food Stars competitor has some advice for anyone starting their own business. “Work hard and chase it no matter what. You need to believe in what you’re doing and then, you know, give it your all. Give it everything you have.”

What did Tyler Dirks learn from Gordon Ramsay during Food Stars Season 2?

Gordon Ramsay sent Tyler Dirks home during Food Stars Season 2 on FOX
Photo Credit: FOX

Tyler isn’t sure why Gordon selected him to join Team Ramsay. “I don’t know. I mean, I’m not a TV kind of person at all. I’m thinking, I’m hoping, that he really liked my product. That’s why I did the show anyway. I wanted to, you know, get exposure for my product,” Tyler said.

“We have it now, but I was raised without TV and all that. I would never think of myself going to do TV. So, I’d like to say I have such a great product – that’s why he picked me.”

So, what did Tyler learn from Gordon? “I learned he’s fun to work with. He’s definitely good at his business. I’m sure he’s a great chef, but his business is TV and he knows how to make a good TV show.” He added, “I had a good time with him.”

Why being on Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars was hard for Tyler Dirks

Tyler Dirks was a part of Team Ramsay on Food Stars Season 2
Photo Credit: FOX

Tyler has no regrets about being on the show. But it was challenging at times. “I mean, I never would have pictured myself ever being asked to do a TV show. I was asked to do Season 1 and I wasn’t ready and I turned them down. And they said they would call me back for Season 2,” Tyler told us.

“I enjoyed it. It was awesome being in London. I had an awesome time going around London and meeting locals. It was awesome meeting Gordon Ramsay. So far, no regrets.”

And Tyler came away with an appreciation for the English capital, hoping to return soon. “I want to take my wife back there soon. Maybe this year sometime for our anniversary,” he stated. “I loved it. It was very interesting to see.”

However, being on camera was difficult for Tyler. “Getting used to the cameras was very hard. I never did get myself to where I actually felt comfortable in front of a camera,” he shared. “I feel more comfortable than I did before.”

Why Tyler’s pitch was missing a key ingredient

Tyler Dirks for Gordon Ramsay's Food Stars Season 2
Photo Credit: FOX.

When Tyler pitched Lite-Rite Charcoal Grills to Lisa and Gordon, he had to rely on his personality. “I had to do my sales pitch without my product. The product got lost in customs. That’s a whole … another story there. I found out the grill was not on set, and I was not going to do my sales pitch with the grill,” Tyler explained.

“That was a disappointment because I wanted to actually grill a steak for Mr. Ramsay and let him eat it. But that just didn’t work out. You know, that would be my biggest regret. I wish that would have happened,” he added.

Since the show started airing, Tyler has been getting calls about his grill. “I’ve been surprised I’m getting a lot of calls and messages on a daily basis and they’re all from that show. I’ve sold now about 40,000 in sales and that’s been no marketing money spent,” the business owner stated. “That’s just through word of mouth. I’m getting a lot of exposure and people contacting me because of the show. It’s exciting.”

What was it like being on Team Ramsay?

Gordon Ramsay mentored Tyler Dirks during Food Stars Season 2
Photo Credit: Brian Bowen Smith/FOX

Tyler did make some connections on Team Ramsay. “I still speak to one or two of them. We saw Rose [Hankins] – she lives here in our town. We saw her the other evening when we went out to eat. That was the first I’d spoken with her. Then I still speak with Andrew [Whiting] now and then online. I speak with Kamal [Grant] every now and then.”

Tyler wasn’t sure what caused his team to lose the first challenge. “I felt like our line was full the whole time. I wasn’t much involved in the kitchen end of it,” Tyler explained.

He continued, “I was told that we were getting orders out in a minute and a half, but I think it was taking more like five or six minutes. So, maybe our line was long because the orders weren’t getting out fast enough. I’m not sure.”

But the tension on Team Ramsay flared after the group lost the challenge. “The tension was when Team Ramsay lost, that was when you feel the tension. There was definitely tension setting in at that point,” he said. And Tyler was called out about hiring a juggler to pull in customers. “I got grilled pretty hard by my cast members – from my team,” Tyler added.

What was Gordon like in person?

Gordon Ramsay with some members of his team during Food Stars Season 2
Photo Credit: FOX

So, was Gordon intimidating in person? “He’s interesting. I never felt intimidated by him. I felt a respect for him,” Tyler commented.

“It was a real interesting experience meeting him face to face. I’m sure he can be intimidating. I never felt that personally with him, but if I had stayed on [the show] longer, who knows? I might have seen some of that,” Tyler stated.

Tyler summed up his Food Stars experience in one word. “Exciting,” he said. “That is one of the first words that comes to mind. I loved the whole experience overall.”

Of course, Tyler had some special fans at home. “They were excited for me. My wife, she was watching last night and she said there were some cringey moments. I think she’s more worried about it than I am,” Tyler told us.

And his daughter thinks that he is a local celebrity. I walked in the office a few minutes ago, and she said, ‘There’s that movie star!’ I’m like, ‘Nope. That’s not me. I promise you,’” Tyler said.

This interview was edited for conciseness and clarity.

Gordon Ramsay’s Food Stars airs on Wednesdays at 9/8c on FOX.