Local home chef appears on Food Network’s ‘Guy’s Grocery Games’ – Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

Posted By on February 24, 2022

When Jordan Urnovitz won the fourth annual Top Home Chef cooking competition held by The Arizona Republic newspaper in 2016, he had no idea that that experience would lead to an appearance on Guys Grocery Games hosted by Guy Fieri on Food Network.

Initially, Food Network reached out to Urnovitz at the beginning of 2020 to discuss possible plans for him to appear on a new, geographical-based home chef show they were working on. Then COVID-19 hit and they called back to say that they were putting things on pause.

So, every three or four months, they would call me and they would say, Hey, weve got an idea for something. It looks like COVID-19 is ending and sure enough, COVID never ended, said Urnovitz. Then they called and said, We know that COVID is not going away, but wed still love to have you do something. Would you be interested in doing Guys Grocery Games? and I was just ecstatic.

The Food Network call happened on a Friday and Urnovitz was on a plane that Sunday headed to Santa Rosa, Calif., where Guys Grocery Games or GGG (Triple G) as it is known to its fans is filmed. The setting for the show, known as Flavortown Market, is both a television set and a full-fledged grocery store located inside a 15,500-square-foot warehouse.

It has the design of a grocery store and everything youd find in a grocery store but it was the best ingredients, said Urnovitz. They bring all the produce, meat, seafood everything is fresh every single day. Then at the end of the day, they donate to local charities, which I thought was super cool.

Another thing Urnovitz found super cool was that he had been invited to participate on a show that had 90,000 people apply when Food Network put out the call for home chefs.

Fieri has a reputation as a mensch, serving meals to firefighters who worked to contain the California wildfires and raising more than $20 million for restaurant workers struggling during the pandemic. When Urnovitz met Fieri, he immediately felt he was authentic and genuine.

He came out to greet us and he knew everything about me, said Urnovitz. Like he had read all the bio background on me. He came out and said, Marissa is going to be so proud and Ezra will love seeing you on television. Your bubbe would be so proud. I was taken aback that he knew everything about me. Marissa is Urnovitzs wife and Ezra is their 3-year-old son.

The Urnovitz family, from left, Marissa, Ezra and Jordan.

The premise of GGG is a cooking competition between chefs, but challenges are thrown in to test the competitors culinary skills. The first challenge that Urnovitz and his two competitors encountered in the Global Food Fanatics episode that aired on Jan. 19, was to pick two items from the markets sample tables. The items were mini pizza bagels, mini chicken corn dogs, boxed mashed potatoes and peanut butter filled pretzels.

Im not a fast human being and you really have to think on your feet. You have 30 minutes to shop, cook and plate, said Urnovitz. I grabbed the mini chicken corn dogs and the mashed potatoes.

He prepared chicken shawarma on top of mejadra with Turkish ezme. Urnovitz had 20 to 30 dishes in his head that were familiar and that he knew he could make in the time allotment.

Growing up in a Jewish household, everything revolves around food, said Urnovitz. He remembers his mother and bubbe making traditional foods like kugel, but he also grew up eating a lot of Middle Eastern food at the restaurants in his hometown of Detroit, Mich. Theres a lot of similarities in the spices to Israeli cuisine and Ive always gravitated towards that food.

Urnovitz was not eliminated in the first round, so he went on to round two. This time the challenge was that everything needed for your dish had to fit in a small brown paper bag.

For his second dish, he planned to prepare shakshuka Bolognese over Israeli couscous but when he returned to his station after picking out items in the store, he realized he was missing a key ingredient.

I use a lot of harissa paste in what I cook and normally its really small but the jar that I grabbed was large. When I looked in the bag, I thought it was tomato sauce, said Urnovitz. They didnt talk about this on the episode, but of course I know shakshuka has to have tomato. So I went back to my station, emptied my bag and looked and thought, Oh my God! There was no tomato sauce.

He proceeded to prepare the shakshuka and had another surprise. Ive cooked my entire life and Ive never had a double egg (yolk) and I had three of them. Thats supposed to be good luck though it wasnt so much.

In the end, Urnovitz lost because his shakshuka lacked the tomato sauce. The contestants were told before the show began that its more of a cooking game show and if youre going to say something is something, then it has to be that.

Now that I look back, if I would have called it a rag I probably would have won, but I called it a shakshuka, Said Urnovitz. I dont think I lost because I delivered a dish that wasnt as good; I lost because I dont think I played the game as well.

He said after the show the producers told him that he was great on camera and in the kitchen and that they would love to have him back. GGG does redemption shows so Urnovitz figures that he might get invited back. In the meantime, he will enjoy his happy place in the kitchen.

In 2015, Urnovitz moved to Arizona and currently resides in Gilbert. When we moved here, I just cooked at home. Then I ended up winning Top Home Chef and I cooked at the Arizona Food and Wine Festival, he said. Ive done a dozen events for nonprofits, 30 different catering jobs and now Im on Guys Grocery Games. Its laughable to me because Im not a professional chef I just like to cook. JN

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Local home chef appears on Food Network's 'Guy's Grocery Games' - Jewish News of Greater Phoenix

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