We should start calling the Food Network the Kansas City Food Network. Shanita McAfee, the owner and chef of Magnolia’s Contemporary Southern Bistro (2932 Cherry Street), will be one of the cheftestants on the next episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, which airs this Sunday, September 14, at 9 p.m. (In just two days, local chef Kyle Williams will be appearing on FN’s Beat Bobby Flay).
“I don’t know if it’s the size of my restaurant or what, but I feel like I don’t get taken seriously in Kansas City,” McAfee says. “So, I decided to try this and see how it worked out.”
After filling out an online application and participating in a pair of Skype interviews, McAfee found out she would be filming the Food Network program in Burbank, California, this April. That’s when she sat down and really watched the reality cooking competition.
“I watched it and I thought, ‘oh, this could be awkward,'” McAfee says.
Cutthroat Kitchen, which is hosted by Alton Brown, takes four chefs and gives them each $25,000 at the start of the show. Like many programs, the chefs compete in a series of cooking challenges with a single competitor eliminated after each round of judging by a guest celebrity from the food world. The twist is that prior to the first two challenges, the chefs can use some or all of their money in an auction to buy things that either sabotage the competition or help their cause. In the last round, Brown ups the ante by presenting the encumbrance or bonus item after the competitors have started cooking. The winning chef walks away with whatever portion of their $25,000 is left.
“All of the people are exceptionally skilled, but the cutthroat part isn’t about culinary skills. It’s about your ability to adapt and think on your feet,” McAfee says.
Back here in Kansas City, McAfee is currently in the midst of looking for a new location for Magnolia’s. The restaurant will move this fall, but she is adamant that the eatery will stay in KC. [Learn more about her and Magnolia’s from our chef interview in June.]
On Sunday, McAfee will be holding an informal watch party at Haus (3044 Gillham Road) in Martini Corner. They’ll turn a few televisions to the Food Network when her episode, Tongue Thai-ed, airs at 9 p.m.
“I will be Tweeting throughout the show unless people are being mean,” McAfee says.