Philbin wins on ‘Guy’s Grocery Games’

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First Posted: 12/23/2014

The world learned on Sunday, Dec. 14 that local chef Gene Philbin was playing for a little more than pride on the Food Network’s airing of “Guy’s Grocery Games.”

The owner of Peculiar Culinary Company in Pittston, Philbin took home $25,000 after winning the popular grocery store cooking game. At the beginning of the show, Philbin explained why he was there.

Philbin and his wife, Miranda, are unable to have children, he said. This money will now help them start the adoption process.

The episode, “Dashing through the Aisles,” aired on Sunday, Dec. 14. Philbin flew to California in March to tape the Christmas episode. The show is hosted by chef Guy Fieri.

In the game’s first challenge, Philbin created a duck confit with sweet potato puree and lox bread pudding. The judges asked the chefs to cook their favorite holiday meal. Philbin’s dish was impressive, as judge Troy Johnson, a TV host and food writer, said, “It was good, man.” Johnson was talking about Philbin’s use of the flavors. Philbin moved on to the next round.

In the second challenge, called “Watch Your Weight,” the contestants had to cook with just four pounds of food. Philbin made a pumpkin mousse for his holiday dessert. He used a secret ingredient, cayenne pepper, in the mousse and added a granola-like crumble. During this portion of the event, Philbin showed the camera a tattoo on his forearm in memory of his mother, who recently passed away.

“She’s the reason why I cook,” he said on the show. “The holidays haven’t been the same. I’m constantly thinking, ‘Would she like this?’”

Philbin advanced to the final round.

In the final round, Philbin was up against South African chef Eskender Aseged. This challenge was a New Year’s Eve dinner, with no carts allowed and contestants had to fetch everything from the store without the use of a cart. Philbin opted to create a taragon filet with scallops and smoked buerre blanc. His dish went over well with the judges.

“(A win) would allow me to start a family with the adoption process,” he said on the show. “My life is definitely riding on this dish.”

Philbin’s taragon was picked the winner and his chance to win $20,000 began. On the show, he needed to find 10 different items in the store in two minutes. That’s exactly what he did. The final item, hot cocoa, was a difficult one. But he found it. And with that, he was awarded $20,000.

To Philbin’s surprise, however, the game gave him a $5,000 bonus as well.

“I almost had a heart attack but I feel great about it,” Philbin said after winning. “I’ve waited a long time to start a family. It doesn’t come at a better time. It’s an amazing surprise.”