Las Vegas Sun

November 22, 2017

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Counter Intelligence: Penn Jillette to compete on ‘Celebrity Cook-Off’; Shirley Chung safe on ‘Top Chef’


Christopher DeVargas

Food Network Chef Guy Fieri pays a visit to Stan Fulton Bistro, UNLV’s teaching restaurant, while taping an episode of his show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012.

Penn Jillette Pitches Ice Cream at Walgreens

Penn Jillette launches his Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

Las Vegas chef Shirley Chung on Season 11 of Bravo's "Top Chef."

Hot off the grill!

Rio headliner magician Penn Jillette will compete in the new Season 3 of “Celebrity Cook-Off,” the Food Network’s hit series starring UNLV alumnus Guy Fieri and Rachael Ray as the leaders of competing culinary teams.

If Penn is the last contestant standing from the field of eight, he’s promised that the $50,000 win will go to our beloved charity Opportunity Village, which also benefited this year from Penn’s second-place finish (to country star Trace Adkins) on Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” on NBC.

Penn will be assigned to Rachel’s team with singer and actress Florence Henderson, comedienne Judy Gold and Jake Pavelka of “The Bachelor” and “Dancing With the Stars.”

Guy will be assigned rapper Vanilla Ice, singer and actress Tiffany, NFL legend Herschel Walker and comedian Chris Kattan.

Each episode starting in January will feature a Food Network guest judge who will determine which celebrity is sent home. Actor Lou Diamond Phillips won Season 1, and reality TV star Dean McDermott, Tori Spelling’s baby daddy, won Season 2.

“Let me tell you something: Rachael and I are two of the most competitive people I know,” said Guy. “This season means a rubber match. Rachael won the first round, and I took the second. This one is for all the pasta in Italy.”

Rachael added: “It is both the most nerve-racking and exciting project I’ve ever been a part of, and this season is no relief. It is intense fun and stress — in every episode, as all of these celebrities play with knives and fire for the sake of the charities they love.”

In the season premiere, Penn arrives in New York with his seven rivals for the first cook-off challenge with only 90 minutes to prepare a Medieval feast and perform for a stadium full of hungry spectators. If Penn makes it to the finale, his challenge will be to prepare a three-course meal aboard a cruise ship.


Chef Shirley Chung, our Las Vegas culinary contestant on “Top Chef” Season 11 in New Orleans, was in the Top Three on Wednesday night’s episode and moves on to next week for a new challenge. Her hot sauce for Dr. John consisted of habaneros, Serrano chiles, ginger and pineapple.

Then she was faced with an outdoor oven and coals for a five-hour cook-off with pieces of a 300-pound pig divided up among her rivals. Shirley, formerly with Thomas Keller, Guy Savoy and Jose Andres here, made jioaozo dumplings with pork grilled kidney and crispy pork fat salad.

Head judge Tom Colicchio said he’d travel the world to find her secret recipe, it was so good. Next week, Shirley takes part in the restaurant wars challenge.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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