Like any self-respecting cook, Candace Conley does not tolerate any kind of vermin in her workspace.
That attitude will be put to the test when Conley, the chef and culinary educator who runs The Girl Can Cook! kitchen studio and kitchen in Broken Arrow, appears in an upcoming episode of “Rat in the Kitchen”.
The show, which airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on the TBS cable network, is a combination cooking show and “Clue” game show. Six chefs are given a series of culinary tasks during the hour-long program – from creating a gourmet version of the classic TV dinner party to preparing a four-course meal using only produce sourced from the sea.
However, among the chefs there is someone determined to sabotage the proceedings, turning what should be tasty dishes into unpleasant, even inedible, offers to the show’s judges, noted chef Ludo Lefebvre and comedienne Natasha. Legero.
If the chefs are able to find the rat among them, they can win a share of $50,000. However, if the rat manages to “spoil the broth” undetected, it will run away with the money.
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“This one is really different,” Conley said. “For one thing, nobody on set has a clue who the rat is – not us the chefs, not the audience, not the judges. For the first challenge, chefs are paired up to work together. But we were isolated whenever we weren’t on set – we weren’t even allowed to talk to each other as we were taken from the hotel to the set – so we didn’t know each other at all.
“It made it difficult to build teamwork when we were paired up to meet the challenges,” Conley said. “Some people have been very intrusive; others were just a little hard to work with or work around. And all the time you are on the lookout for the one who sabotages everything.
The show was taped in Atlanta, where Conley stayed for a month.
“It was partly because of the quarantine, but also because they had me as a backup chef, who could carry on in case another cook couldn’t,” she said. “I finally made an episode of my own, though.”
Conley can’t divulge what happened on his episode of ‘Rat in the Kitchen’ – “You wouldn’t believe the number (non-disclosure agreements) I had to sign,” he said. she says with a laugh – or even when her episode will air. But she’s sure she’d happily try to trap another rat in the kitchen if the show continues past its planned 10-episode season.
“The people involved with the show are wonderful and have treated us wonderfully,” she said. “And being locked up for as long as we’ve been hasn’t been such a big deal for me, because I’m a bit of a recluse anyway.”
Conley appeared several years ago on a Food Network show called “Cooks & Cons” and in 2018 represented Oklahoma at the Flavored Nations culinary event.
Conley said one of the reasons she chose to participate in shows such as “Rat in the Kitchen” was because it gave her the chance to perform.
“I’ve done a lot of theater and radio in the past, and cooking kind of lends itself to performance,” she said. “And it’s really fun to be on set with all the lights and cameras.”
Appearing on such shows is also a way to get more exposure for her The Girl Can Cook! Business.
“One thing we did during the pandemic was do Facebook live cooking classes,” Conley said. “The idea was that maybe we could create a pilot that we could peddle on the networks. They are always looking for something different.
“I remember years ago when people were coming up with the idea of a cooking contest, most of the network executives were saying they didn’t see such a concept working for an audience,” a- she declared. “Now cooking competitions are pretty much all you see. So you never know what (the networks) are looking for. All you need is a concept that you can spin in a number of ways.
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