(Tara Hatherly, durhamregion.com)
The Bowmanville community came together in front of television’s bright lights for The Great Bowmanville Food Fight Saturday at Quarry Lakes Golf and Recreation Centre.
One hundred Bowmanville families faced off against a 31-degree sun and each other during filming for season two of the Oprah Winfrey Network’s Million Dollar Neighbourhood. Season two of the reality television show, produced by Vancouver’s Force Four Entertainment, challenges the Bowmanville families to add $1 million to their net worth in 10 weeks. If the Bowmanville community hits its $1-million mark, one family will win $100,000.
The families were divided into two teams for the food fight — a competition to see which team could make the best food and most money in a food festival-style showdown. For added flavour, television chef Rodney Bowers and television restaurateur Mark Brand went head-to-head as team captains.
“The families really stepped up to this challenge,” said Mr. Brand, who lives in British Columbia and stars in the Oprah Winfrey Network’s Gastown Gamble. “It’s just been an epic experience. Coming out here I didn’t know what to expect, and I would happily stay in Bowmanville another week and hang out with these guys.”
His team featured fresh food donated by local farms.
“There’s so much here,” he said. “This is where they should be shopping, versus the large stores, and putting their money back into their community.”
The menus featured Bowmanville family recipes and gourmet restaurant-style offerings spanning a wide range of tantalizing food, drink and dessert categories.
“We definitely won, one hundred per cent won,” joked Toronto’s Chef Bowers, who stars in Food Network Canada’s The Delinquent Gourmet. “I think our team really made it about the food, and I think unfortunately the other team knows that we’ve done a much better job at making food than them, and it’s hard when you show people up like that.”
Each week, participants face community and personal challenges. The food fight capped off a week where families swore off take-out food.
“We end up spending so much money that we don’t have on take out and throwing away food that we do buy,” said co-host Dr. Joti Samra. “There’s a big cost savings if you look at changing your food-related behaviours.”
She said filming has been fantastic.
“It is a wonderful community,” she said. “They’ve been so warm and welcoming toward us and really committed to the challenges.”
Co-host Preet Banerjee lives in Ajax, adding more Durham Region flair to the show, which has seven weeks of filming left.
“Everyone I’ve talked to has absolutely loved the food, and I’ve done some taste testing as well, it’s stuff that I would pay top dollar for in a restaurant. I’ve been blown away by the quality,” Mr. Banerjee said at the food fight, adding, “They probably just could’ve laid out a stone and cooked everything that way … They’re really being troopers, it’s ridiculously hot.”
He said the Bowmanville families are working well with each other.
“The thing that’s struck me most as the thing I wasn’t expecting, is how much people have come together and the real sense of community that’s there,” he said.
The food fight, which raised donations for Bowmanville’s food banks, also featured a blind taste test by the hosts. Find out who won when the series airs, beginning January 2013 on the Oprah Winfrey Network Canada.
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