Joe “Chef Joe” Arvin, a founder of SmashMouth Burgers and Pizza in Schererville, has left the kitchen to become a houseguest on the 14th season of “Big Brother” on CBS.
Brian Brundage, who opened SmashMouth with Arvin two years ago, said Arvin sold him his interest in the business several months ago to pursue a career in reality TV.
“It looks like it happened,” Brundage said.
Brundage said about a year into the business Arvin “felt maybe his heart was a bit more in reality TV than running a restaurant.”
“Big Brother” will premiere Thursday. Arvin will be competing with 11 other houseguests including the brother of “Survivor” participant Russell Hantz and Jenn Arroyo, a former bass player for the female metal group Kittie.
Four top players from previous seasons also will join the cast and will be revealed later in the season.
According to a CBS news release, this season’s guests will live in a house that will feature an arcade room, a Zen garden-inspired backyard and an oversized chess game. If Arvin cooks, he’ll find a kitchen with white, open cabinets showcasing “pops of bright colors inside.”
The house will be outfitted with 53 cameras and 98 microphones to capture every move 24 hours a day.
Each week the guests vote someone out of the house until the last person remaining receives a prize of $500,000.
“Joe’s got a heck of a personality,” Brundage said. “Generally people with good personalities end up doing well. We wish him the best of luck.”
In the “Big Brother” cast bio page, Arvin said his strategy for winning the reality show is to use his cooking skills to help get him to the end.
“Every one loves to eat; never get rid of the cook,” he said.
Arvin also says on the website his favorite “Big Brother” cast member was Chicken George because he was able to move around undetected for much of the time.
Arvin also said he’d bring a football into the house to remind him every day it’s a game and he’ll win; a cookbook because he’s always studying his art; and a family photo because “I never forget where I come from and who I am fighting for.”
A call to Arvin was not returned.