With two restaurants up and running, a regular series of traveling chef gigs and steady sculpture commissions, Stretch has set his sights on television. He's determined to "Stretchify" the small screen, figuring out how to squeeze his oversized personality and diverse interests into 22 compelling minutes of programming.
On Wednesday, he talked about leaving Philadelphia to pursue a career as a toy designer, and yesterday, he shared the events that led him to eating goat from the back of a pickup trick.
Diners, Drive-ins and Dives launched Stretch into the world of food television programming back in 2007, but perhaps more importantly introduced him to celebrity chef Guy Fieri. He has appeared on Guy's Big Bite and has been a mainstay at the Guy Fieri Roadshow -- a traveling blend of rock and roll, cooking and chef-tertainment.
"Guy and I hit it off. We just started rocking," Stretch says.
His friendship with Guy and Page Productions, the company behind DDD, helped him meet executives at the Food Network and History Channel. He liked the taste of television, and executives responded to his mix of skills and brash style.
"I'm a builder and a food guy. I could be like the Dirty Jobs guy, Mike Rowe, for food people," Stretch says.
A regular guest designer on Extreme Home Makeover, Stretch made it to the final two for a full-time designer position on the show. Although the casting team opted for John Littlefield, the experience convinced him that this was something he really wanted to do. He got a call from Animal Planet to think about shooting a pilot about invasive animals. And when Discovery flew him out for a screen test in an attempt to find a co-host, he got a call from Spike.
"It's been a year, and I've been wondering what's going to happen, and suddenly all these people want me," Stretch says.
Spike offered Stretch a development deal, which eventually manifested in him shooting the pilot for Hungry Men at Work -- a show that pairs top-flight chefs with men working dangerous jobs -- this February. A month later, he shot a pilot, Big Loads, for the History Channel. Later this year, Stretch will also appear on the season finale of Bar Rescue -- a pub version of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, on Spike -- wherein struggling bar owners get a bar makeover and advice on how to turn things around.
For his part, Stretch just hopes to be able to showcase Kansas City to the rest of the country.
"It's huge for me. It's huge for Kansas City. I've spent a lot of time here, even though I'm not from Kansas City. I think this could be part of the welcome wagon," Stretch says.