‘Rod the Builder’ cook off -- Rod Meloni vs. Grant Hermes

The dishes from Rod Meloni and Grant Hermes are judged at the end of the "Rod the Builder" cook-off.

It’s one of our favorite things to do each year: Make Rod Meloni super uncomfortable by giving him a tough task to accomplish in a relatively small timeframe, live on TV and online, and against a competitor who usually has a huge leg up on him.

This year for “Rod the Builder,” Rod will face our Local 4 “master chef” Grant Hermes in a cook off.

Last year, Meloni faced off with our very own Steve Garagiola, who is a chef with his own cookbook. He was even featured on Rachael Ray. The two dueled to make an Italian feast of lasagna, toasted ravioli and Caesar salad.

Hermes is an anchor and reporter for Local 4, but if you check out his Instagram, you would know he is a pretty good cook.

“I do alright. I’m an alright cook. I dabble,” Hermes said. “I’ve seen Rod’s cooking. He almost burned his cabin down last year. I think I’m in a pretty good spot.”

“I’m going to say this and I’m going to say this very clearly: Never, ever trust a skinny chef,” Meloni said.

Meloni said he is not intimidated by Hermes, however, he is not on Instragram so he might not have seen his many dishes.

Meloni and Hermes faced off Friday at Holiday Market in Royal Oak in the Mirepoix Cooking School. Chef Daniela Abel made sure nothing went awry, gave Meloni a tip or two and then judged their work.

You can watch highlights from the cook-off below.

Since Meloni is from New England, two of the dishes they made honored that: clam chowder and lobster rolls. Last year, Garagiola got to pick the menu. They also made cannoli. The goal was to create Instagram-ready dishes.

Mirepox often holds duels, cooking classes and other private events. To check out their full calendar, click here.

Mirepoix describes its cooking school as a hands-on and comfortable environment where people are taught to think and cook like a professional chef. It is already offering gift cards for its January calendar.

Clam Chowder recipe


  • 1 2/3 cups frozen, cooked clams (try to get just the clam meat, if not, then you will have to shell the clams after thawing) (also can just use canned clam meat – skip the thawing step)
  • 2 ounces bacon, finely chopped (about 2 strips of thick cut bacon)
  • 2 cups chopped onions (about 1 medium onion, peeled)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ pounds potatoes, peeled and diced into ½-inch cubes (about 3 medium potatoes)
  • 1 ½ cups clam juice
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Pepper to taste


  1. Once clams are thawed, mince on a cutting board and set aside saving any juice.
  2. In a large, heavy pot slowly render the bacon on medium heat. Remove the bacon with slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the bacon fat in the pot.
  3. Add in the onions and garlic and slowly cook, stirring frequently for about 5-6 minutes until cooked through but not browned. May need to lower the heat.
  4. Side step: Roux
  5. Separately in a small pan, melt the butter, then add in the flour whisking consistently until combined with no lumps.
  6. Or ,if you want to try it in the main pan, add the butter and let melt, then slowly whisk in the flour until combined with no lumps.
  7. Add the flour/butter mixture (roux) into the onions and garlic and combine (if you did step A above).
  8. Add in clam juice and stock, bring the liquid to a boil.
  9. Add in the chopped potatoes, lower heat and simmer until potatoes are cooked through (about 15 minutes).
  10. Stir in the clams with the juice from the cutting board and bacon.
  11. In a separate bowl, add in your heavy cream. Take a ladle or two of the hot stock and slowly mix it with the cream stirring constantly to temper it. Once tempered, you can pour the cream into the pan, stirring again to avoid any curdling.
  12. Heat chowder through until it reaches your desired temperature.
  13. Sprinkle with pepper to taste.

Cannoli recipe

Filling ingredients:

  • 1 16-oz. container ricotta (drain out the liquid with a strainer or cheese cloth to remove any excess moisture)
  • 1/2 cup marscapone cheese
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ½ c powdered sugar (divided)
  • pure vanilla extract 1 tsp.
  • orange zest 1/4 tsp
  • kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon
  • mini chocolate chips, for garnish

Shells ingredients:

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp. cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 6 tbsp. white wine
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg white, for brushing
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Making the shells:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
  2. Cut butter into flour mixture with your hands or pastry cutter until pea-sized.
  3. Add wine and egg and mix until a dough forms.
  4. Knead a few times in bowl to help dough come together.
  5. Pat into a flat circle, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Making the filling:

  1. In a separate bowl, using a hand mixer to beat the heavy cream and ¼ cup of powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ricotta, cream cheese, remaining ¼ cup powdered sugar, vanilla, orange zest, and salt.
  3. Using whisk attachment or hand mixer, whip until smooth. A few ricotta curds may be left, but most of the filling should be creamy. Fold in the whipped cream.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to fill cannoli, at least 1 hour.

Frying the shells:

  1. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half. Roll one half out to ⅛” thick. Use a 4″ circle cookie cutter to cut out dough. Repeat with remaining dough. Re-roll scraps to cut a few extra circles.
  2. Wrap dough around cannoli molds and brush egg whites where the dough will meet to seal together.
  3. In a large pot over medium heat, heat about 2″ of oil to 360°. Working in batches, add cannoli molds to oil and fry, turning occasionally, until golden, about 4 minutes. Be careful. Oil will be inside the mold. Drain mold and remove from oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool slightly.
  4. When cool enough to handle or using a kitchen towel to hold, gently twist shells off of molds to remove.
  5. Place filling in a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip. Pipe filling into shells (both sides), then dip ends in mini chocolate chips.
  6. Sprinkle cannoli with powdered sugar for garnish.

Here’s a look back at Friday evening’s live updates:

Rod is facing off with Local 4 “master chef” Grant Hermes in a cook-off.
It’s one of our favorite things to do each year: Make Rod Meloni super uncomfortable by giving him a tough task to accomplish in a relatively small timeframe.
The cook-off between Rod Meloni and Grant Hermes continued into Friday evening.
The dishes from Rod Meloni and Grant Hermes are judged at the end of the "Rod the Builder" cook-off.