Fayetteville chef Maudie Schmitt to appear on new Food Network show

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 1,517 views 

Fayetteville chef and restaurant owner Maudie Schmitt will make her national television debut next week.

Schmitt, who is a co-owner of Café Rue Orleans on College Avenue, is set to appear on a new Food Network show, “Supermarket Stakeout,” hosted by “Iron Chef” and “Chopped” judge Alex Guarnaschelli. The pilot episode premieres Aug. 13 at 9 p.m. CST.

According to the Food Network description, four competing chefs square off in a competitive pop-up kitchen outside a grocery store. Assigned a theme for each round, the chefs must size up unsuspecting shoppers as they exit the store and attempt to negotiate for their grocery bags. Each chef has a budget of $500 to purchase groceries from shoppers as they exit the store.

There are three elimination rounds. In the first round, chefs pay shoppers for their groceries without looking in the bags. In the second round, the chefs will only be able to buy ingredients from one shopper, but they can look through the shopping bags before paying. In the final round, the competitors are only allowed to purchase five ingredients, but there’s no limit on the number of shoppers they can negotiate with.

“‘Supermarket Stakeout’ is a tough competition where the chefs have to think fast and cook blind out of bags and carts — even if they get an apple, a loaf of bread and a package of diapers, a cohesive, themed dish must be prepared for the judges under a ticking clock,” Courtney White, president of Food Network, said in a statement.

A panel of judges decides which chef created the most delicious dishes out of the random ingredients, handing down a $10,000 cash prize to the winner.

Schmitt, a New Orleans native, opened Café Rue Orleans in January 2001. Carla Williams is her business partner and a co-owner.

Schmitt said appearing in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off last year in New Orleans helped raise her profile among television producers. The annual event pits the nation’s best chefs against recognized culinary greats from around the United States. It is sponsored by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and presented by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board.

“One chef from every state competes and from that particular event my name and Café Rue Orleans’ name have started popping up,” Schmitt said.

The pilot episode of “Supermarket Stakeout” was filmed in California in May. Schmitt said before she left she spoke with area chefs Brent Hale and Rob Nelson about what to expect. Both men have competed previously on another Food Network show, “Guy’s Grocery Games,” hosted by Guy Fieri.

Nelson is chef and owner of Tusk & Trotter American Brasserie in Bentonville. Hale is the owner of food truck Big Sexy Food.

“It was a two-day whirlwind,” Schmitt said of the California trip.

Schmitt said she was considered to appear on “Guy’s Grocery Games” last year but didn’t make the cut.

“I love competing and I love cooking,” Schmitt said. “But more than that, this will bring some exposure to the restaurant and to Fayetteville. It’s good publicity.”