Home cooks compete against pros to win cash on new TV show

by: COURTESY OF NBC - Elisha Joyce of Lake Oswego is competing in NBCs new high-stakes culinary game, Food Fighters. The eight-episode show premieres 8 p.m. Tuesday on KGW (8) Elisha Joyce of Lake Oswego considers herself a pretty good cook, and now she has the opportunity to prove it on national television.

Joyce is one of seven contestants on NBC’s new culinary game show “Food Fighters,” which premieres at 8 p.m. Tuesday on KGW Channel 8. It’s a chance for top-notch amateur cooks to put their signature dishes to the test against professional chefs for the chance to win as much as $100,000 per episode.

Joyce and her fellow contestants will square off against expert chefs who’ll be following the same recipes. Completed dishes will then be sampled by culinary judges in a blind taste test called “The Dinner Party.” If the home cooks win, they’ll earn a cash prize. If not, they still get to face off against another culinary expert, climbing a money ladder with increasing cash prizes for every professional chef they knock out.

Joyce, who was born in Guam, learned to cook by watching her grandmother. She carried her love of good food into adult life, she says, but it wasn’t until she married that her culinary skills blossomed.

“I wanted to make my husband happy,” she says. And when the couple started having children, she wanted to set a good example of eating well for them.

Joyce was an early advocate for eating quinoa, and she created a nutritious granola bar-like snack, “Smarty Bars,” with her children in mind. She was such a proponent of the grain that she soon became known as the

“Quinoa Queen”; she now promotes the use of quinoa via her blog, Rebel Grains, and also sings its praises frequently as a guest on the local television show “AM Northwest.”

Joyce says she learned about “Food Fighters” while surfing the Internet.

“The announcement said something like, ‘Do you think you cook better than a professional chef?’ I said ‘Yes!’” Joyce says. Her application must have had all the right ingredients, because she was quickly chosen for the eight-episode series.

Joyce says the signature dishes she chose to present on “Food Fighters” are a reflection of who she is and how she feeds her family.

“We eat a wide variety of dishes,” she says. “So you get a flavor for lots of different foods.” She prepared a Guam-influenced eggroll called lumpia, a mango tart, a chicken-and-rice dish she remembers her grandmother making, fish tacos, and a salmon- and-quinoa recipe.

“The story behind the fish tacos is that my husband and I had them on our first date,” she says. “I wanted to wow him at home with them.”

Celebrity chef Lorena Garcia will compete against Joyce in Tuesday’s episode. Who will come out on top? You’ll have to tune in to find out. Make sure to follow her progress online at, and pick up a copy of The Lake Oswego Review on Thursdays for a weekly recap.

Other contestants in the new show include: Melissa Clinton, a high school biology teacher from Scotch Plains, N.J.; Jon Coombs, a U.S. Army Operations NCO from Lansdowne, Va.; Kena Peay, an administrative assistant from Oakland, Calif; Cortney Anderson-Sanford, a homemaker from Seattle; Annie Smith, a stay-at-home mom from Corona Del Ray, Calif.; and Jim Stark, a retired fashion apparel executive from La Jolla, Calif.

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