It’s all about the smile.
Janel Fields, a 2014 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, won the Aug. 9 episode of “Supermarket Stakeout” on the Food Network.
“I think the skills that are going to help me out in this competition are my background in biochemistry and food science. And, of course, my smile,” Fields said in the show.
Her prize for winning was a year’s worth of groceries.
The owner of Field of Greens DFW in Dallas, Fields earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from UTC and works as a private chef and a recruiter for biotechnology companies.
In the three-round competition, Fields—who was featured on the web series “Instachef” in 2019—faced off against three other chefs. Working in temporary kitchens set up in the parking lot of a grocery store, they had to prepare three different dishes, each in 45 minutes.
The kicker is that each was given $500 and had to buy ingredients for all three of their dishes from shoppers coming out of the store—basically ambushing them—without knowing what was in the shoppers’ grocery bags.
“Sometimes they get dog food, energy drinks and kitty litter,” said show host Alex Guarnaschelli.
Whatever they found, they had to create a dish out of it from scratch.
In each round, chefs and restaurateurs Maneet Chauhan—who lives in Nashville and owns or cofounded four restaurants in the city—and Scott Conant, both well-known to Food Network viewers, judged each dish. One chef was eliminated in each round until two—including Fields—faced off in the final.
In the first round, the culinary theme was “Grilled to Perfection.” Fields made grilled flatbread topped with peppers and ground turkey mixed with the marinara.
“I’m being adventurous,” she said. “Keep me in your prayers.”
In the second round, the theme was “Feel Better Meals,” and Fields made dessert nachos out of corn tortillas, pineapple, raspberries, yogurt, brown sugar, allspice and cinnamon.
“All this ooey gooey-ness,” she said.
In the final round, the chefs could only select five ingredients from shoppers’ baskets, but also could go into the grocery store and buy one item. The theme was “Herbaceous.”
Fields planned to make shallot and garlic rigatoni pasta with dried basil and oregano, grated broccoli and mozzarella cheese, but it wasn’t working. She turned to a baked rigatoni.
“I have to pivot,” she said. “I don’t know how it’s going to do, but I’m going to have to make it work.”
While her final round dish didn’t earn high marks from the judges, they gave high praise to her first two. When they told her she won, she ran about, turning in circles and tearing up.
“I kept it simple. I gave them great food and really let my personality shine throughout my dishes,” she said.