Local chef snags celebrity role on 'Food Fighters'


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Elise Wims wants everyone to know she’s really not a villain; she just played one on TV.

Ms. Wims, a breakout star during Season 9 of the popular Fox reality program, “Hell’s Kitchen,” came across as arrogant and well, rather witchy. She said she has spent three years trying to get past it.

“It’s good I get to undo some of that, because I’m sassy but not [worse]... I went into ’Hell’s Kitchen’ pretty green and not knowing how television works. At the end of the day, they can’t really use anything against you that you didn’t give them, but when I saw the edit, I saw a lot of stuff they pieced together and made me look over-the-top.”

Tonight at 8, she returns to national TV as one of five celebrity chefs on NBC’s “Food Fighters.” The premise of the program: pit one home chef in a series of challenges where he or she presents a menu of favorite recipes. A different celeb chef and the home chef go head-to-head in a limited amount of time to present their spin on the challenger’s version of say, chocolate bread pudding.

At stake, should the home chef win each round, is an escalating amount of cash.

Tonight’s challenger will be Nick Evans, a blogger from Denver who had to take on, among others, the “Ace of Cakes” star Duff Goldman. The episode was taped months ago, although in front of a live audience.

Ms. Wims, 30, is a Woodland Hills grad with a degree from the Pittsburgh Culinary Institute. She said NBC was looking for chefs who had a strong fan base and social media presence. Billing herself as “The Diva Chef,” she was a natural.

These home chefs aren’t Wilma Flintstones: “They were pretty, pretty good. [Nonetheless] I went in there thinking ‘I better not lose to no home chef,’ ” she added, laughing.

Ms. Wims said she hopes the exposure from “Food Fighters” helps boost her new line of prepackaged “fuel for life” meals. They are designed to follow a “40-40-20” ratio of protein, carbs and fat in each serving. Not by coincidence, it’s a practice often employed by bodybuilders. As she began changing her workout lifestyle and diet (“I went from fit, to ripped”), she found there was a demand for such fare.

Marketed as “Fuel,” and sold through LA Fitness in Monroeville, it’s a growing product line.

“I cook with no oil, very low sodium but it’s full of flavor,” Ms. Wims said. “You can pretty much eat what you want as long as it’s ‘clean’ and preservative-free.”

Tonight, however, what’s on the menu is not up to her. In fact, she will be shown cooking up something outside of her comfort level. “[The home chefs] have to decide what’s your Achilles’ heel.”


Maria Sciullo: msciullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG.

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