Longtime Bachelor fans remember Chris Bukowski as the guy who made it to top-4 on Emily Maynard‘s season of The Bachelorette … or as the guy who “hooked up with everyone” on Bachelor Pad 3 (for those who actually remember Bachelor Pad at all) … or as the guy who crashed Andi Dorfman‘s season of The Bachelorette … or even possibly from his stint on Bachelor in Paradise. Basically, the guy’s done a lot of Bachelor-related reality TV but all’s been fairly quiet until recently.
No, not because he’s coming back as The Bachelor (though he is from the same season as Arie Luyendyk Jr.), but because he’s making a name for himself in the restaurant world. MSP Primer got a chance to chat with Chris last week when we asked him everything we’ve been dying to know about what it’s really like being a contestant on a reality show, producer manipulation and the transition from unscripted TV to the restaurant biz.
First, let me tell you — for those of you who somehow avoided watching any season in the Bachelor franchise that Chris was on, he went from heartthrob status to player real quick. Kind of like Dean Unglert did during Paradise! In fact, Chris himself made that comparison saying:
“I know this Dean guy is being given a pretty hard time right now. I don’t know the specifics but [for me, it was] the same thing as with him. He made it far [during The Bachelorette] and then went on Paradise and they turned him into a player. You know, I was young and having fun [on Bachelor Pad]. But they made it seem like I was sleeping with everybody in the house — I didn’t sleep with anybody in the house.”
He definitely cautions us to take what we see with a grain of salt — the editing process can be brutal on a person’s character.
“Bachelorette was pretty fair, I definitely got a good edit on that one. But Bachelor Pad was completely bullsh*t. You know, I think they pretty much took me because I was probably the most popular person that was going on Bachelor Pad and turned me into a character. People were most interested in what I was doing because I was just coming off of Emily’s season… So they just, you know, they spin it and do what they want with you.”
In fact, sometimes it’s not just “spinning it,” sometimes it’s straight-up just fabricating things and making the events look like they actually happened. Chris revealed, “When I was on The Bachelorette and I got sent home, they had me leaving in the limo. As the car was driving off, above the sunroof they had it blurred out like I was flipping her off. But there was no sunroof in that limo. There was no way that I could possibly do that but they made it look like I did.” WOW — that’ll definitely make us think twice the next time we assume that someone’s naked/having an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction just because they show a black box over a contestant’s bod…
But making good TV doesn’t only happen in the editing room. In fact, this past summer with the Bachelor in Paradise alleged sexual assault scandal that rocked Bachelor Nation — the idea that producers manipulate contestants and encourage overdrinking and bad behavior became a topic of widespread conversation. While some past and present Bachelor contestants said that kind of manipulation was totally going on, others vehemently deny that the producers would ever intentionally do them wrong. Chris, too, had some thoughts on the subject:
“No one ever forced me to do anything or forced drinks down my throat but [producers] definitely suggest it or will do it with you, and you gain this trust with these people that you assume will be your friends, but they’re really not,” the reality star stated. “When I trust people I usually take their advice or something close to what they’re advising me to do. So that was definitely my downfall. I don’t think they mean to cause direct harm… but they definitely steer you in different directions.” He continued, “They’re trying to make an interesting TV show.”
Speaking of Bachelor in Paradise — Chris, let’s just say, wasn’t a huge fan of filming that one out of all the seasons he appeared on. And to be fair, we can’t imagine how anyone could possibly enjoy themselves in so-called ‘paradise’!
“Bachelor in Paradise was brutal. The living conditions… there’s no air conditioning. There’s no plumbing. It was just torture.” No air conditioning?! No plumbing?! They definitely don’t show that on the guilty pleasure reality show. As if that’s not bad enough, Chris continued, “’Paradise’ is so boring, literally, you don’t even know what to do with yourself half the time. On Bachelor Pad you’re like, scheming and stuff. You’ve got to have some kind of brains and physical abilities to be good on that show.” He also said, “I actually had the most fun on Bachelor Pad even though it was probably my worst experience when it was on TV just because I actually made real friends from that show.”
So that’s Bachelor Pad: 5, Bachelor in Paradise: 0, for those of you taking score. (Seriously, bring back Bachelor Pad, we miss it!)
But many may have noticed that Chris has been missing from the Bachelor franchise for years now and yes, it’s totally intentional. After ~retiring~ from reality TV, Chris has focused his attention elsewhere, particularly the restaurant industry. And while he studied hospitality management and business before all the Bachelor shenanigans and actually opened his first restaurant in Arlington, Virginia right before his very first season with Emily Maynard… now it’s all eyes on his fourth and latest restaurant called The Bracket Room located in Chicago, Illinois.
“This is my hometown so I want to be as involved as possible. I’ve kind of been doing a little bit of everything, meaning a solid 40-50 hours a week. I’ve been pretty involved as far as from the press side of things and the day-to-day front of house management. We have a solid back of house so we just let the chef do his thing back there but I’m just pitching in here and there.” He mentioned he’s so busy that he’s “getting grey hairs every day.” (Which is a good thing — we’ve all seen Peter Kraus, right?!)
“The Bracket Room is an upscale spin on a sports bar,” Chris described. “I think people kind of just perceive sports bars as not having good food, as just a place where you go and watch the game, maybe get something decent to eat. We’re definitely a food-first concept. Everything is made fresh in house, nothing is ever frozen and we take a lot of pride in our food because, to me, good food brings people back. Everything else is just a bonus. It’s a beautiful bar. The TVs, everything aesthetically is perfect. So going with the food first, and then the ambiance second is our spin on a sports bar.”
With a VIP room, late-night entertainment and over 40 beers on tap, we’ll definitely be putting The Bracket Room on our agenda for the next time we find ourselves in Chicago!
Oh, and of course — we couldn’t let Chris go without asking him about Arie being the next Bachelor. After all, the two spent a lot of time together on Emily Maynard’s Bachelorette season.
“The best thing about Arie is that he’s a natural bachelor, you know, in his real life,” Chris explained. “He’s a successful guy and not just being put into this role because people like him from a previous season. I’ll definitely watch Arie’s season because I know him pretty well and I think he’ll be a good lead.” (We’ll be watching, too, Chris!)