SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. -- An executive chef at Manhattan's Tre Dici, Giuseppe "Joey" Fanelli, will take on a new culinary challenge when he competes on Food Network's "Kitchen Casino" in an episode airing Sunday, June 1, and Saturday, June 7.
Fanelli, a Sleepy Hollow resident who was raised in nearby Elmsford, applied to "Kitchen Casino" from an ad posted on Craigslist. His episode was taped in January and was "an all-day, all-night intense taping," the chef said.
"Kitchen Casino" pits four talented chefs in a high-stakes game in three rounds of gambling-themed challenges -- slots, roulette and poker. The food prep and cooking require high levels of skill, speed and adaptability in a test to win a $30,000 prize.
"The experience was unlike anything I've been a part of as a chef," Fanelli said. "I'm familiar with my world -- have all my experience and the products and menu I am familiar with in my work. This competition is about pressure to perform and then waiting through the production to cook. You have to call on all the experience you have to make it work."
Host Bill Rancic leads the contestants through the casino-style culinary competition. Each round is critiqued by a roster of judges: Michael Chernow, Madison Cowan, Danyelle Freeman, Gavin Kaysen, Aliya Leekong and Kristin Sollenne.
As executive chef at Tre Dici in the Chelsea neighborhood at 128 W. 26th St., Fanelli said he honors his culinary heritage by featuring herbs and vegetables pulled from his father’s garden and olive oil from his uncle’s grove in Puglia, Italy.
Fanelli's culinary journey began as a teen when he waited tables at night while learning the ropes of his father’s stone masonry business by day. One evening, the chef called on him to fill in on the line for an injured cook, and that experience led Fanelli to leave stone masonry behind to attend culinary school.
After graduation from high school, Fanelli ventured to the South and cooked aboard the Delta Queen steamboat along the Mississippi River. He later returned to New York to cook at such high-profile restaurants as Felidia, Rao's, Baldoria and Union Pacific.
"This was an amazing and challenging experience," Fanelli said. "I have a better understanding of what it takes to produce these shows. It not the reality I am used to but I did my best."
"Kitchen Casino" airs on the Food Network on Sunday, June 1, at 11 p.m. and again on Saturday, June 7 at 5 p.m.