Spoiler alert: Megan Day of Lee’s Summit smoked the competition on Round 1 of Food Network’s “Chopped Grill Masters.”
On the episode, which aired Tuesday, Day beat a Mississippi gator hunter, a New England restaurateur and a self-described barbecue “goddess” from Florida. The victory secured her a spot in the finale of the five-part series, which airs at 9 p.m. Aug. 29.
Day watched the episode Tuesday with friends and family at Martin City Brewing Co. Because she was sworn to secrecy, she couldn’t reveal the results of the show until it aired. She said in a phone interview Wednesday morning that the big reveal “was a burst of pride” and “so humbling.”
Day was introduced to barbecue by her husband, Jason. Together, they travel to contests around the country and compete under the name Burnt Finger BBQ. Dessert is her specialty, but she’s also known for slaw and can smoke meats with the best of them.
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“I’m the best wife ever because I allow us to thaw pigs in our bathtub,” she said on the show.
The competition consisted of three timed rounds: appetizer, entree and dessert. At the beginning of each round, the competitors were given a basket of surprise ingredients. The weirdest ingredients included vegan lobster, watermelon pie and sea urchin.
Day seemed confident from the start: “In my gut there’s a fire,” she said. “I’m gonna win.”
Day’s appetizer, spicy pork medallions with grilled chard, a wine reduction and watermelon polenta, scored rave reviews from judge Alex Guarnaschelli.
“I want to eat it like a wild animal,” the celebrity chef said.
Guarnaschelli also gushed over Day’s entree, Bloody Mary short rib steak with vegan lobster slaw: “So delicious — it’s a taste like no other.”
In the dessert round, Day faced off with Andy Husbands, a Boston-based chef, cookbook author and barbecue expert. Husbands didn’t expect to lose.
“Megan is great,” Husbands said. “I’m more experienced. It’s like if we had an NFL player playing a high school kid.”
The chef scoffed when Day used an empty bean can to cook brownie batter, but the unconventional move impressed the judges, who loved Day’s grilled brownies with smoked strawberries, sea urchin whipped cream and charred plantains.
“I had to use what was on hand,” Day said. “I knew in my heart that if I grabbed cast iron I would burn those brownies.”
Myron Mixon, the winningest man in competitive barbecue history, had three words for Day when she won: “You got skill.”
Day said there’s a “fun battle” in store for the finale of “Chopped Grill Masters.” At stake is $50,000 and a trip to California’s Napa Valley. Day said on the show that if she wins the grand prize, she’ll use the money to travel to “bucket list” barbecue contests with her husband.
The barbecue pro said she’ll probably plan another watch party, but details are yet to be determined.
Next week’s episode of “Chopped Grill Masters,” which airs at 9 p.m. Aug. 8, will feature Richard “Fergie” Fergola of Gardner. The pitmaster, who competes with the team Fergolicious BBQ, is planning a watch party at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8, at Austins Bar & Grill, 245 N. Moonlight Road in Gardner.