Fanshawe Chef takes first place in cooking game show

Chef Erin Circelli-Russell tasting some food. CREDIT: ALEX
Circelli-Russell took home with her a check for $16,500 to share with her family back home.

Fanshawe’s very own Chef Erin Circelli-Russell competed on the hit cooking game show Guys Grocery Games winning for her second time while also gaining the title “mother of all winners”.

Circelli-Russell was called back by famous Chef Guy Fieri himself to partake in the Mother’s Day episode for his show which airs on Food Network. She, alongside the three other contestants were previous winners on the show.

“The first time I went down to compete, it was completely a shock and a crazy experience and then when [Fieri] called me to do the Mother’s Day special, it was an honour to go back to compete against moms who are kick-ass chefs in the industry,” Circelli-Russell said.

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Contestants were put on a timer to go find ingredients in grocery aisles for dishes chosen by Fieri. In three rounds, contestants had to prepare dishes with specific ingredients for a panel of three judges which amped up the challenge.

“The first round of this episode was creating a pantry meal, so using no fresh ingredients, no frozen ingredients and no dairy – only using the middle aisles of the grocery store…all canned and boxed and dry food.”

The second round, meanwhile, involved making an innovative family dinner using apple pie ingredients. 

“So you had to incorporate cinnamon, vanilla icing sugar, pie crust and apples into the innovated dish,” Circelli-Russell said.

She described the additional pressure she felt with trying to keep her dish unique and fresh while preparing it in a tight time crunch.

“You have to think on your feet because you literally find out what you're going to make and within seconds your shopping in the grocery store for those products,” Circelli-Russell said.

Circelli-Russell also talked about the joy it brought her and her kids for competing on the Mother’s Day episode and how being a mother influenced her thinking she was preparing the dishes.

“They were pumped. It was about being a mom and representing them. They were super great because I made food that I knew that they would like…so it got them pumped because they know they love that food and they know that food is awesome, and that food won mommy and the family a lot of money!” Circelli-Russell said.

In addition to being proud of representing her family and her career, Circelli-Russell said she was proud of the unbelievable opportunity Fieri gave her as a chef and her hometown.

“He is a personality. He is a kind and generous person and he’s there to make you look good. Even if something were to happen with your food, maybe it didn’t turn out or you missed something, his whole purpose is having you on the show to make you a hero in your hometown.”

Circelli-Russell took home with her a check for $16,500 to share with her family back home.