Winner Takes All

By: Mari Carr

Big Easy, book 6



Prologue





Night One — Finale Script

Tom: Good Evening, and welcome to the special two-night finale of Food Fight, coming to you live from Sin City itself, Las Vegas! I’m Tom Federico and sitting beside me, as always, is the very lovely Angelica Stone. Angelica, I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. What a season!

Angelica (light laughter): Oh Tom, that is so true. Food Fight is in its tenth season and this show just keeps getting hotter, with ratings that are through the roof. However, I don’t think anyone could have foreseen exactly how exciting this season would be.

Tom: Well, I think we can attribute that success to the contestants. Have you ever seen a stronger field of competitors?

Angelica: No, Tom, I haven’t. The judges have had their work cut out for them since the very first episode. Everyone seems to agree that this year’s crop of wannabe chefs are the most talented and creative the show has ever seen.

Tom: Indeed they are. Why don’t we do a quick recap of the season for those viewers who may be joining us for the first time tonight?

Angelica: Great idea, Tom. The show started with sixteen cooks, all vying for the title of Food Fight Champion. They were quite a diverse group, coming from all areas of the United States.

Tom: Who could forget Seth Gilbert from Juneau, Alaska? He emerged as an early favorite, with some judges predicting he had the chops to go all the way.

Angelica: Yes, they did. America was stunned when he was eliminated in show seven after that fiasco with the undercooked venison.

Tom: And then there was Jillian Cohen, the little spitfire from New Jersey. She caused quite a spectacle in the kitchen, continually launching into her now-famous temper tantrums. How many times have you seen that picture of her waving the frying pan and cursing at judge Robert Conover?

Angelica: Too many. It came as little surprise when she was given the boot in the ninth round. Other strong competitors who ultimately didn’t make the cut include Mark Pollis, a barbeque master from Little Rock, Arkansas, and Ava Emerson, the single mom from Chicago, who was cut in the very last episode. Her departure was simply heartbreaking.

Tom: Yes, it was. Which brings us to the big three. The last men standing, so to speak.

Angelica: Last men, plus one woman.

(Laugh together)

Tom: And what a woman!

Angelica: Now, behave yourself, Tom. Judge Jessica Rodriguez called Hollie Mills one of the most creative cooks she’s ever met. The lovely vegetarian grew up in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She’s the only girl in a family of eight siblings who all work on the family’s farm. And for the first time tonight, her family is in the audience. Hollie explained early in the season how difficult it was for her parents and brothers to leave their large farm for any length of time. I know she’s delighted to have them all here. I caught a glimpse of her brothers, Tom, and let me just say, this born-and-bred city girl is considering a move to the country.

Tom: Angelica!

Angelica (giggle): I suspect most of the single women in America will share my sentiment after tonight. Hollie is an advocate of organic foods and has a huge fan following.

Tom: Including me, Angelica. I had the opportunity to try her stuffed Italian peppers with the vegetable risotto after that last show and I’m still dreaming about them. Hollie definitely has the talent to win this entire competition.

Angelica: Well now, don’t get ahead of yourself, Tom, because she’s facing some serious competition in Manny Walsh and Noah Lewis.

Tom: That she is. I’m not sure anyone expected Manny Walsh to make it this far. A weak performer at the beginning of the season, he was in the bottom three during the first four shows, only remaining by the skin of his teeth.

Angelica: And then, boom!

Tom: Boom, indeed. He’s dubbed himself the hungry hippie and he certainly fits the part. He has thirty years on the other finalists and has the distinction of being the oldest cook to ever participate in the show. At fifty-six, the Californian has become well known for his tatty t-shirts and shaggy gray hair. According to behind-the-scenes reports, the other participants have started calling him Dad.

Angelica: He’s definitely made this season fun with his quick wit and one-liners.

Tom: The entire country has enjoyed his humor, evident by the fact that Manny has quite a few entertaining memes circulating on social media.

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