10/02/2012 10:27 am ET Updated Dec 02, 2012

Why Is Jeff Mauro So Cheap?

We turn to it for sustenance and we embrace it for comfort. Food is an integral part of our lives and yet it still has a mystical pull that herds us from the warmth of our beds to graze under the glow of the refrigerator light. Whether across the street or across the globe we live to eat and eat to live. During a sit down and kick-up-some-calories chat I got an insiders view from Jeff Mauro, star of the Food Network's new show$24 in 24.

Joshua Estrin: Food has realized a celebrity status all her own. Why do think this happened?

Jeff Mauro: Well it's not really rocket science, which is good because I'm not a rocket scientist. Everybody eats and unlike other celebrities, food is more relatable and often accessible. I mean seriously... have you ever seen a burger and fries go all diva?

JE: What is your guilty foodie pleasure?

JM: Well I have never been known to turn down wings or pizza and if either happens to meet up with some blue cheese dressing along the way? I am an equal opportunity foodie believing in inclusion not exclusion. As for hardcore pleasures... Pringles, bologna, and melted American cheese on a paper plate. Don't under estimate the power of the plate either, as it brings out the finer qualities of any processed cheese food.

JE: Tell me about your latest project?

JM: $24 in 24 on the Food Network is kind of like another show (he laughs) but I have sixteen dollars less and ten years of inflation to navigate. It is about finding the best deals on good food in some of the most unexpected places. But it's not just about the deal; it's about the meal. I want to prove that no matter where you are, with a bit of creativity you can find great food and a snack with only $24 including tax and tip. I hit cities like Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City and Philadelphia to find local, high-quality eats on the cheap.

JE: How do you make a career out of eating without becoming a walking heart attack?

JM: Some days are easier than others, but I do need to keep active. Even on a day with an early call I try to get a run in or get to a local gym. I have not been blessed with the Skinny Gene, but that doesn't mean I can't stay healthy. If you want to play you have to pay and I love everything about food so I also have to embrace the flip side and that means exercising even when I would rather be eating Pringles and bologna.