WESTERLY — She beat Bobby Flay, and now she’s ready to earn some metal.
Jeanie Roland, the chef and co-owner of Ella’s Fine Food & Drink in Westerly and The Perfect Caper restaurant in Punta Gorda, Fla. — with her husband, James — will battle for the chance to win the gauntlet and become the Iron Chef.
The Culinary Institute of America grad and five-time James Beard Award nominee will star in the second season of the Food Network’s “Iron Chef Gauntlet,” a six-episode primetime show that premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m.
“I’m humbled and I’m still pinching myself,” said Roland, who is prohibited from sharing too much information about the show, which will feature “seven rising stars battling for the chance to gain the only culinary title that matters.”
Roland said the show is the only food reality show that seeks out contestants to invite on the show.
“It’s an honor of a lifetime,” she said. “You dream about this … about competing … it’s a dream. I am blessed.”
“Every challenge teaches us a lot about ourselves,” said Roland. “This is no different.”
Roland said the competition, which was filmed in Georgia, was “really intense” and “involved some the greatest culinary talents in the country.”
Along with Roland, this season’s competitors are Timon Balloo of Miami, an executive chef of Sugarcane; Nicole Gomes of Calgary, Canada, the owner and executive chef of Nicole Gourmet; David LeFevre of Manhattan Beach, Calif., owner/executive chef of Manhattan Beach Post; Dale Mackay of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, the owner and executive chef of Grassroots Restaurant Group; Hong Thaimee, of New York, the owner and executive chef of Thaimee Table; and Kevin Tien of Washington, D.C., the owner and executive chef of Himitsu.
“There really aren’t any winners or losers,” Roland said. “It’s all a win-win.”
“It’s really given me a nice lift,” she said. “It’s put some some wind under my wings.”
“I think I’ll be a better chef because of it,” she added.
In the first five episodes, competitors endure two grueling rounds of cooking, starting with the Chairman’s Challenge, where host Alton Brown delivers a themed challenge and is the sole decision-maker on the most and least successful chef. The winner then selects a competitor to join the bottom chef in the Secret Ingredient Challenge, where they must cook three dishes featuring a secret ingredient.
A panel of rotating judges send the least successful chef home each week, while the winner is sent back to battle. In the finale on May 9, the last chef standing has the Iron Chef title in reach. But first, the chef must run the gauntlet — three rapid-succession “Secret Ingredient Battles,” each against one legendary Iron Chef: Alex Guarnaschelli, Stephanie Izard and Michael Symon. Only if the finalist receives more points than the Iron Chefs combined will they be able to join the coveted ranks of Iron Chefs.
A digital companion series, “Iron Chef Mode,” will offer culinary tips and tricks viewers can use in their own kitchens. Viewers can also meet the challengers and find out more about the Iron Chefs and guest judges at FoodNetwork.com/IronChefGauntlet. They can also join the conversation on social media and watch for exclusive content using the hashtag #IronChefGauntlet.
On Wednesday, patrons and employees alike will join Roland at Ella’s to watch episode one of “Iron Chef Gauntlet.”