Food Fighters 'Melissa Clinton' Recap, Season 1 Episode 7, Clinton vs. Tila

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In the seventh episode of the debut season of NBC's Food Fighters high-school teacher and amateur cook Melissa Clinton competed head-to-head against five professional chefs, for a chance to win the grand prize of $100,000.

Clinton, a biology teacher from Scotch Plains, New Jersey, comes from a large Italian family where she was taught how to cook at the age of nine by her grandmother.

She put her signature meals of chicken burger, pork wellington, stuffed chicken, meatballs, and bacon brownies against celebrity chefs Josh Stone, Manouschka Guerrier, Michelle Ragussis, and Mike Brown, with her final challenge against Thai and Chinese specialist Jet Tila.

The chefs' meals were judged by a dinner party of five average Americans, so there would be no bias in the competition.

Her first culinary challenge came against Josh Stone, owner of over a dozen restaurants and delis. She chose to cook her meal of stuffed chicken with mashed potatoes. While playfully trash talking, both chefs displayed strong confidence in their own recipes and strategy in making their meals.

Clinton made her stuffed chicken with a pesto stuffing, which the judges said to be a little salty. Stone took a different route and decided not to stuff his chicken, but instead combine with prosciutto and Gouda cheese, which disappointed a couple of the judges because it wasn't a truly stuffed chicken.

The time proved to be a challenge for both chefs, as each cook barely got both the chicken and potatoes on their plates to be judged. In a 3-2 decision, Clinton topped Stone and added $5,000 to her winnings.

Next up was the personal chef to Selena Gomez and Barbara Streisand, Manouschka Guerrier. Clinton chose to go with a tweaked family recipe of meatballs with ratatouille, which is a combination of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and peppers. The addition of the ratatouille proved to be a challenge for Guerrier and she admitted that she had never made it before, so she left out crucial ingredients.

Clinton shared her grandmother's secret of putting milk-soaked bread pieces into her meatballs, while Guerrier decided to go with her native Haitian style spicy meatballs. Clinton hit a struggle when she saw her ratatouille vegetables weren't cooking.

Clinton's meatballs proved to be inferior to Guerrier's, but the dinner party unanimously agreed that Clinton's ratatouille was better.

Clinton was defeated by Chef Guerrier by a score of 4-1, so she was unable to add $10,000 to her winning, leaving her stuck at $5,000.

To win $15,000 her third challenger was Chef Michelle Ragussis, who is considered one of the top seafood chefs in New England, and she chose to go with her pork wellington recipe. Clinton decided to add pork, prosciutto, and sundried tomato pesto to her recipe, while Ragussis went with more of a traditional recipe, adding mushrooms. Once again the oven proved to be an issue for Clinton; her meal just didn't seem to be cooking.

Again both chefs used the final seconds to put their plates together for the judges. The dinner party seemed split in which dish they enjoyed more, and once again in a 4-1 Clinton was defeated.

Because of the loss, her total winnings at $5,000.

Mike Brown was the next chef who stood in the way of $20,000 for Clinton; he is a modern american chef who owns two restaurants. Clinton went with her original recipe she came up with in middle school of a chicken burger with onion rings. Clinton used her grandmother's pot and spoon, and claimed that because of its use over the years it has natural flavor in it. Clinton threw all her ingredients into her skillet and was mix them all up, and added guacamole.

Brown used a different style to cook his chicken than Clinton, pressuring in the spices and juices into the chicken. Instead of using onions Clinton went with shallots to make the rings, however Brown was not intimidated claiming he loved making beer batter and was confident in his onion rings.

The dinner party was a fan of Clinton's chicken burger, but were not impressed by her rings, saying they were tasteless.

Brown's onion rings fared better off than Clinton's with the dinner party. In a unanimous 5-0 decision, Clinton added $20,000 to her total winnings, giving her a total of $25,000.

Clinton saved her recipe of bacon brownies for her final and world renowned chef Jet Tila. Tila is a holder of three culinary world records, and his family started Thai food in America. Throughout the challenge he displayed utmost confidence, despite admitting that baking was his "Achilles heel." Clinton melted finely shaved pure cocoa to combine with her bacon for her brownies, while Tila decided to make a skillet cake with chopped bacon instead.

Tila decided to add a bacon ice cream to his skillet cake, using liquid nitrogen to make the ice cream. Both chefs hit a major snag when neither of the brownie bases cooked all the way.

The judges were impressed with both recipes, but were thrown off that Chef Tila's was not a true brownie. In a 3-2 decision, Clinton topped Tila and doubled her winnings, leaving her with a grand total of $50,000.

Food Fighters, hosted by Man vs. Food's Adam Richman, is an eight episode series, that puts amateur cooks in culinary competitions with up to five professional and celebrity chefs per episode. Each professional chef that the amateur cook beats, the prize money gets larger, with the grand prize being $100,000.

The season finale of Food Fighters airs September 9 at 8 p.m. on NBC. For more information head to for full length episodes and exclusive videos from the show.