When Anthony Langston cooks, he likes big, bold flavors.
It's like his personality. He is competitive, but he's also a goofball.
Those traits serve Langston -- also known as "Tony" or "Lanky" -- well as a contestant on Secret Chef, a cooking show streaming on Hulu beginning June 29. He brings in his experience as culinary director of Denton's Ten:One Artisan Cheese Shop, where he creates delicious concoctions, and as a bartender at East Side Denton and his former workplace, Andy's Bar.
"It's a tale of two Tonys," Langston says, noting he feels both nervous and excited about how he appears on the show.
But it's all about the food. He likes to change things up in the kitchen and, he says, "I want it to show on the plate."
His path to the culinary world wasn't traditional, either.
Langston, who grew up in The Colony, originally attended UNT from 2003 to 2004. He transferred from the University of Oklahoma when, after frequently visiting friends, he realized, "I'm having way more fun in Denton."
But he had another big hobby -- cooking. He got hooked on shows on the Food Network, whose cooks presented different flavors from what he grew up with. He gobbled up cookbooks and Bon Appetit magazine.
When he began bartending at Andy's Bar, it siphoned his plans for working in advertising.
"It was fun being myself and chatting with everyone," he says.
In 2014, he switched to East Side Denton, where he still bartends about once a week.
One of his East Side co-workers, Justin Bonard ('16 M.A.), shared Langston's affinity for combining unique flavors, and when Bonard opened Ten:One Artisan Cheese Shop in 2018, Langston began serving as its culinary director.
The shop doesn't make its own cheeses -- they are imported from around the world -- but Langston comes up with all sorts of pairings by roasting nuts, making jams and incorporating dried fruit, herbs and spices.
"So everyone has the perfect vibe for every bite," he says. "I enjoy the freedom of expression and creation. We get to have fun with what kind of flavors we want to do."
And, he notes, "The word on the street is my pickles are pretty great."
With his interest in unique flavors, Langston seemed a solid choice for Secret Chef. He had auditioned for previous shows, including MasterChef, and appeared on Best Leftovers Ever! on Netflix. One of the producers of MasterChef had remembered him and offered him a slot on Secret Chef.
The show boasts an unusual twist: the ingredients are delivered by conveyor belt and the finished products are judged in blind taste tests by the 10 contestants -- who include professional chefs, home cooks and influencers isolated in an underground kitchen.
"It's strictly about the food," Langston says. "You might really like somebody, but you may send them home because you didn't like their food."
While some people may consider that stressful, he says, "I'm not going to lie, I loved it."
Langston says he grew up playing every kind of sport, so he's very competitive.
"When the cameras are on, it's go time," he says.
What advice would he give to cooks? He says to play with your food to create "good, fun, crazy dishes." He likes the bold barbecue flavors of his home state, so for a Hanukkah dinner, he may throw in a Texas dish.
"You've got to express yourself when it comes to cooking," he says. "Some people can feel the love when it comes to it. I want to make sure that's Lanky and this is great."