Recipe: Lone Star Poblano Burger (As Seen On TV)

I created the hamburger.

Ok, I created my Lone Star Poblano Burger for Chili's and competed with it on the television show On The Menu. Chili's Head Chef Stephen Bulgarelli puts the cool in culinary. He asked us to conceptualize a burger with spicy, smoky, Southwestern flavors. Mine delivers that, but it didn't win.

Best thing about coming in 2nd? I won the right to share my recipe with you.

The flavors of Tex-Mex run through my body with the strength and constancy of the Rio Grand. I was born in Lubbock, Texas—in fact, five generations of my ancestors were born in Texas. I live in LA, but my Texas roots live on in my diet.

Live, Nude, Greg! On the Radio

Between global warming and the Santa Ana winds it's so hot in Los Angeles that I want to rip off my clothes and run through the sprinklers like I did when I was a kid in Texas. But I wear mostly Armani, and pay retail, so I'm not willing to ruin my wardrobe.

Instead, I go on a radio show, figuring no one can see if I'm naked... And because the studio promises air conditioning... And because it's hosted by Frank Sheftel, owner of the Candy Factory. He promises to toss me skating star Tai Babilonia's Tai Treats yummy Gummy Butterflies like I'm a trained seal.

Greg On The Menu: Cooking on Television

I loved to watch my grandmother cook. She influenced me. I still see her in my mind. After dinner, she watched me put on shows in her Lubbock backyard, but she never saw me cook. I imagine if she saw me cooking on television, she'd drop her jaw and her cocktail.

I get a call from a producer. It's a Hollywood movie moment. One of those life-changing events that swirl about all real and surreal. Greg, we want you on our show. The Chili's challenge. Create a new burger to go on the menu at Chili's.

A new, nationally broadcast cooking show, On The Menu. Produced by Mark Burnett, hosted by Ty Pennington, mentored by my dream-of-a-lifetime Chef Emeril Lagasse. This TNT show provides a unique opportunity. For me, self-promotion. For the winner, a $25,000 check. I need the money and a job.

I have a month to create and taste and test and taste and test and taste a burger for Chili's. I'm sixth generation Texan. Turn my cumin-and-lace grandmother sideways, and she was the Chili's flavor profile.

On The Menu: The Reality of Getting On A Reality Show. (Part 1 of 2)

Being on TV can help sell books. Getting on TV is hard.

But I believe in myself. And in chances. I get an opportunity to step toward my goals -- I take it. October 3rd, I'm on TNT's new reality cooking competition series, On The Menu: The Chili's episode.

I just wrote The Pink Marine, a memoir about my time in Marine Corps boot camp. Writing a book is hard. As difficult as completing recruit training. I thought finishing the book meant the process was over.

But like I learned in the Marines, there's always another battle. I typed "The End", turned the page and met a new challenge: Marketing. Marketing is hard.

I've built one of the most globally recognizable brands with millions of built-in customers that guarantees success in everything I do. No I haven't. But I love hard work.

Here's what happened. One day as I chilled in Montreal, nibbling on pain au chocolate, I read an email asking if I cook the food I write about on my blog. The email is from the offices of a new television show -- On The Menu. I lean in closer to my laptop. I'm interested. They ask if I want to compete on their cooking show.

Fifty Shades of Penises

Are you a man? Let's hope the first penis you saw was your own. Are you a woman? I bet you remember your first.

That becomes your watermark -- your point of reference for every other penis you see.  You can read ancient philosopher's theories on envy. You can become a hooker under the guise of field research.

Or... I can enlist in the Marine Corps and see dozens.

I write about this in my memoir, The Pink Marine. I'd seen a few, I'd had a few -- but I learned that every one is different.

Did You Just Eat a Frog?

I learned that the Marine Corps packs thrills. I didn't join expecting great food. However, after you force-march 15-miles, carrying a 70-pound pack on your 115-pound body, you want food. Any food. I'd tear into the tough, plastic Meal Ready To Eat pouch. I sucked out the compressed tuna using the sense memory of freshly shucked Louisiana oysters.

I didn't even pause to release my boot's death grip. My cracker broke as I dug it into stale peanut butter. Chomping sounded like marching. I looked up and scanned the area to see my brothers-in-arms frantically trading chocolate pudding for spaghettios. Affix neckties instead of bayonets and you'd have the trading floor of Wall Street.