“Kitchen Crash” arrives in Malverne at 10 p.m. Tuesday, when the Food Network competition airs the first of three shows this season set on Long Island.
“Thanks to everyone on Long Island, man!” enthused host and head judge Jeff Mauro, 44, over the phone. “They showed up and they helped us put on great shows. Pound for pound, that’s our best location” on the show, which in its only previous season toured all of New Jersey; in Austin, TX; and in Bay Shore. An episode of West Babylon will air next week and Farmingdale will play on August 2.
In each episode, Mauro brings three chefs to neighborhoods who were only told a TV show would shoot their local block party. Once there, the chefs each have 10 minutes to convince a household to let them rummage through their fridge and cupboards for a single tub of food that the chef will expand to create three courses. The winning chef and household shared a $10,000 prize (and all households receive “100% reimbursement for anything used or unused,” Mauro clarified last year).
In Tuesday’s episode, “Garden Party,” shot on Lexington Avenue in Malverne, Mauro and chef Marc Murphy judge candidate chefs Brandon Campney of Stirling Tavern in Morristown, New Jersey; Claude Lewis of Freetown Road Project in Jersey City, New Jersey; and Sara Nguyen of Wangs Fried Chicken in Brooklyn. Each contestant is tasked with preparing what the network describes as “a cheesy Mexican-inspired dish, a sweet and savory surf and turf masterpiece, and a dessert with a surprise topping.”
Heather Zwillick, 46, a teacher, and her husband Matt, 44, an education administrator, were among the owners who agreed to have their pantry raided.
When the “Kitchen Crash” crew arrived, “I was just getting out of the shower because we thought we weren’t supposed to be ready until later,” recalls Heather Zwillick. “I was in shock because we were planning the block party and we hadn’t done our main shopping. And when [Campney] was going through our cabinets, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I don’t even know what’s in there.’ ”
Which is usually the case, says Mauro. “They all wish they’d gone shopping the night before, and since we’re shooting on the weekends, I mean, I don’t know about your house, but for us, Friday pizza night and then Saturday, we’re going So our fridge isn’t stocked. The crisper,” he laughs, “isn’t full of cruciferous vegetables.”
Heather Zwillick, who along with Matt is mother to 10-year-old daughter Shelby and 7-year-old son Chase, said everyone connected to the episode was “phenomenal. Jeff was awesome and Marc was awesome – and they played with the kids all day!”
“I respect the time and effort that families and blockers put into this show,” Mauro says. “It’s TV – it’s a long day. So I wasn’t rushing to my trailer between takes – I was there having fun with the block, throwing the ball with the kids, whatever I could do, you know?
“We made such a connection with our leader,” says Matt Zwillick, “that I said to him, ‘I’m going to come down to the house. If you’re bored, I’ll be in the garden.’ And so after he finished, he came out and hung out with us for two or three hours after we shot everything.
“It was a great experience overall.”