O ne taste of Joy Woods Jones’ signature Macaroni and Cheese Smothered Fried Chicken Casserole, and the judges of The 10! Show’s Local Chef Competition were fans. The diminutive Jones defeated four other contestants to win the coveted title of house chef for the popular daily NBC 10 TV show. NBC 10 and the College co-sponsored the competition, held at the College’s Main Campus Culinary Arts facilities, which impressed the judges.
Accolades for Jones’ cooking came from an array of faculty and celebrity judges, including celebrities such as Marc Summers, host of the Food Network’s Unwrapped and Ultimate Recipe Showdown; Restaurateur Stephen Starr, owner of Buddakan, Morimoto and many other restaurants; and Rocco, a Q102 Radio DJ and trained chef.
As the winner, Jones will further hone her cooking skills with a free course from the College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program (CAHM).
Fondly called Mama Joy by her family and friends, Jones is project coordinator for Grandma’s Kids, a kinship family support program at Temple University. The 41-year-old mother of six has a passion for cooking that goes soul deep. “I’m thinking I need to know how to cook everything that God has created on this earth,” she told The 10! Show correspondent Tim Furlong, just before her final cook-off against Jessica Templin, a graphic arts consultant and aspiring TV chef from Kennett Square.
The Local Chef Competition was a joint venture with NBC 10 that yielded plenty of positive exposure for the College and its CAHM program during the five-show promotion.
“A primary goal of our media buying efforts for the College is to go beyond advertising and begin building strong relationships with all media outlets, like we did with NBC 10,” said Kris Henk, executive director of Marketing for the College. “These types of added value are provided to the College at no charge, and the real value is that they give audiences an inside, behind-the-scenes look at the programs and people that make the College such an incredible institution.”
The finale was broadcast live from the CAHM kitchens in the College’s Bonnell Building on April 9, and Jones was announced as the winner during the next day’s 10! Show before a studio audience packed with CAHM students.
While the other contestants favored more cosmopolitan recipes, Jones stuck to the homey dishes beloved by her children and extended family. She started off with the hearty, stick-to-your-ribs casserole and ended with ground lamb balls in a truffle sauce, with a medley of green beans and new potatoes, topped off with buttery cornbread.
Her secret ingredient of passion won kudos from Food Network celebrity host Marc Summers, who was one of three judges for the final two competitions.
Restaurateur Stephen Starr, who helped judge the first cook-off, was drawn to the homey casserole Jones served up in the first round. “You know what? It’s really good if you’re nine,” opined Starr, who fed his inner child by practically cleaning his plate.
For the final round, Jones and Templin were given a last-minute surprise ingredient that had to be incorporated into the dishes they planned to cook. Each was presented with Philly soft pretzels. Jones added shredded pretzel to her cornbread mix and toasted pretzel bits to use as croutons for a salad. Templin used it to create a Philly cheesesteak-style stuffing for her chicken breasts.
Jones was ecstatic over her kitchen coup. “I would love to become a professional chef,” she said. “My husband is a jazz musician, and I’ve always wanted to open a jazz-themed restaurant or café.”
As the winner, Jones also received a $100 gift certificate to McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants and a free, one-night stay at the Desmond Hotel in Malvern.
Other contest judges were Paul McCormick, a certified executive chef and CAHM visiting lecturer; Thomas Macrina, CAHM faculty member and executive chef for the Hunt Room at the Desmond Hotel in Malvern; and Peter Hoffman, a CAHM alumnus who is now executive chef at the Westin Hotel in Mt. Laurel, N.J. Macrina and Hoffman were judges throughout the competition and McCormick often provided tips and encouragement for the amateur cooks.
The three contestants eliminated in the first three rounds were John M. Larason of Yardley, Felix N. Papadakis of Erwinna and Sharomine A. Martin of Ardmore. All contestants received a $75 gift certificate from McCormick & Schmick’s. As runner up, Templin also was offered a free CAHM course.