They Dance, They Swap Wives, Now Celebrities Cook-Food Network's Celebrity Challenge

Pic of Day

Cooking for Charity

Well we already covered the concept of celebrities swapping wives. Now we have celebrities competing to cook. And as is often the case with these sorts of things, the celebrities are competing for a charity of their choice that receives the prize should the celebrity win.

NEW YORK, NY – November 14, 2011 – Two of Food Network’s biggest icons, Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri, will square off against each other for culinary bragging rights in Rachael vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-Off, premiering Sunday, January 1st at 9pm ET/PT. In this six-episode competition series, the Emmy®-winning talk show host Rachael Ray and best-selling cookbook author and successful restaurateur Guy Fieri, will each serve as coaches and mentors to eight multi-talented celebrities, all of whom are passionate about food and cooking. Divided into ‘Team Rachael’ and ‘Team Guy’, each episode features celebrity contestants battling it out in a fun, fast-paced culinary fight-to-the-finish, with the two bottom-rated contestants from the losing team going head-to-head in a blind tasting elimination challenge. In the end, the last contestant standing is crowned king or queen of the Celebrity Cook-Off and wins $50,000 for the charity they are playing to support.

As the blurb above, copied from Food Network's own site for this series, the celebrities competing love to cook. I must suppose that celebrities can like to cook just as us mere mortals but I ponder how often and how really good celebrities cook their own meals.

Though, as is also often the case with these types of shows, these are no A-list celebrities doing the competing. Which is why, we must logically conclude, these B or even C list celebrated sorts even enter these things, not so much for the money for their charity though that's nice. But it's every bit as much a push to re-gain celebrated fame do not try and fool me. Joey Fatone, for example, was once a contender on Dancing With the Stars and now he cooks as Fatone continues on relentlessly on these sorts of venues that keep him in front of the public eye.

Nothing wrong with that. Someday there will be an entire class of celebrities who claim to fame will be….eh, competing in celebrity-only contests! Fatone and Gary Busey will be charter members.

The other celebrities featured on this series include Lou Diamond Phillips, an actor whose credentials are listed as being a Golden Globe nominee, questionable fame one might say. There's also Cheech Marin, a former pothead not getting acting gigs that feature former pot heads. Other celebrities cooking to compete include a former Miss USA, a rapper type named Coolio, a Broadway star, an Olympic medalist and some various and sundry actors.

The charities for the cooking celebrities include:

Alyssa Campanella – Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Cheech Marin – Hispanic Scholarship Fund
Aaron Carter – Kids Beating Cancer
Coolio – Music Saves Lives
Joey Fatone – Fatone Family Foundation
Lou Diamond Phillips – No Kid Hungry
Summer Sanders – Right To Play
Taylor Dayne – Cambodian Children’s Fund

I must ask what is the Cambodian Children's Fund and why this charity? And hey, the Fatone Family Foundation, nothing suspect here, eh?

So okay, what about the hosts and how is this competition ran?

Rachel Ray is either beloved or hated. Frankly I don't see what she's a subject of such visceral dislike by so many folks. If nothing else I think she's harmless.

Though Ray has been quite the success for Food Network, authoring many cook books and branching out to her own daytime show on a main network. As for Guy Fieri, I was covering the Next Food Network Series when Guy won that contest.

Guy too has been successful as a guru of food, his Food Network series, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives being a staple of that network.

I daresay that both Rachel and Guy are personable hosts and lend a pleasant atmosphere to this show though I think it's time for Guy to do something about that hair..

Each of these hosts had selected an initial team of four to be on their team.

Team Rachel consists of

Summer Sanders
Lou Diamond Phillips
Aaron Carter
Taylor Dayne

Guy's team consists of:

Alyssa Campanella
Joey Fatone
Cheech Marin

For the first cooking challenge of this series, the teams were charged with creating food for a bunch of people, Rachel with a "hot in the city" theme and Guy with a "Fiesta Loco" theme. Lou Phillips prepared some great ribs while Cheech came up with great sliders. All of the contenders created a dish for the challenge with Aaron Carter preparing some kind of gelatinous macaroni salad thing that landed him, and Taylor, in the bottom two.

The ranking are determined by votes of the diners, the contender with the lowest amount of votes for each team then charged with participating in a blind cooking challenge. This first night of the series, Aaron and Taylor had to make a dish within ten minutes that included shrimp. Both of the contenders made some kind of dish using lots of bread crumbs.

Guy and Rachel, without knowing who cook what, decide on the winner. The loser of this final challenge is sent packing.

Aaron Carter lost this challenge and was sent home.

For the second episode of the series, the teams were charged with making a dessert item. While this might seem like a simple challenge, the trick was that the dessert had to include a "savory" ingredient. For Rachel's team this item was anchovies and for Guy's team it was horseradish. The judges for this challenge were students at a culinary school.

Both teams used the Italian staple, conollis to package their savory. The cream of the connolli, as it was likely deduced, would effectively handle the surprise of a salty anchovy or hot wasabi Japanese horseradish. Indeed, the culinary students thought both teams handles this difficult challenge very well.

It would turn out that there was a tie for both teams so the team captains, in this case Summer and Alyssa, were to participate in the elimination challenge.

On a humorous note, didn't Cheech Marin bake up a batch of brownies, bringing back memories of those special Alice B. Toklas gems of yesteryear?

For their final challenge, Summer and Alyssa had to prepare a salad. As judged by Rachel and Guy during the blind taste test, Summer won and Alyssa was sent home.

As it stands as of this writing Team Rachel consists of

Summer Sanders
Lou Diamond Phillips
Taylor Dayne

Guy's team consists of:

Joey Fatone
Cheech Marin

The Food Network Celebrity Challenge can be seen on Sunday nights, Food Network, at 9pm/c.

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