Kayla Robison, who graduated from Grand Forks Central High School, won the top prize on Guy’s Grocery Games in an episode that was broadcast Wednesday, Oct. 9, on the Food Network.
Robison, executive chef at Arnold’s Bar and Grill in Cincinnati, Ohio, won $20,000 in the final round that pitted her against a chef from Brooklyn, N.Y.
They were challenged to create a favorite Italian takeout dish, with $20 to purchase ingredients and 25 minutes to prepare it.
Robison made a pesto cream pasta topped with charred tomatoes, burrata cheese and crushed pistachios.
“It’s a budget-friendly dish that my daughter and I make at home,” she said.
Earlier rounds challenged the chefs to create four burgers and sides for $24, a budget challenge, and prepare an Asian dish within 20 minutes, a time challenge. The show starts with four chefs and one is eliminated by a panel of three judges at the end of each round.
For the burger challenge, “I chose to do a spin-off of a ‘crunch wrap supreme’ from Taco Bell and what I called a quesadilla burger and a side of nachos," she said.
She had developed the quesadilla burger for a former employer, she said.
“It’s very unique and was the main dish at the last restaurant I was at. Tortillas are cheaper than buns, so I saved money there," she said.
For the Asian dish, she created a lumpia, which was inspired by her mother’s Philippino heritage, she said.
Once the contestants have heard the cooking challenge, “you just kind of run around and grab things,” Robison said.
A 2008 graduate of Grand Forks Central High School, she is the daughter of Lisa and Greg Sheard, of Grand Forks. She worked at several local restaurants here before leaving to attend culinary school in Cincinnati.
At the end of the show, Robison said she wanted to take the prize money home to her daughter, Dre, 9, and mentioned that Dre was hoping to talk to the show’s host. So Guy Fieri had Robison pull out her phone and call Dre, and he and Dre chatted a bit on the televised program.
After the call, Fieri commented that Robison, as a single, working mom, was setting a great example for her daughter.
Watch parties were held Wednesday at Rhombus Guys Pizza here and at Arnold’s in Cincinnati, with proceeds from both events going to benefit Chalyse Koshikawa, who has been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, Robison said.
Koshikawa, who used to own and operate Froot and Erb with her husband at the Columbia Mall food court, is a very close family member, Robison said.
Robison has been on other food shows, including the Cooking Channel’s “Cheap Eats” in 2017 and the Travel Network’s “Man Versus Food” in May 2018, she said.
She had to keep quiet details of her appearance on Guy’s Grocery Games for quite a while; the show was taped in January, she said.
Robison received her cash prize a few months ago and has distributed it to family members who’ve been “a huge help throughout the years, helping me raise my daughter during culinary school and establishing my career,” she said.
She also paid off her school-loan debt and medical bills and contributed to Chalyse’s Journey with ALS Fund, she said.