Rod the Builder faces off with professional chef in 3 food challenges

Rod Meloni puts on his Rod the Builder apron, competes against chef Jim Bologna from Great Lakes Culinary Center

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. - Every Black Friday Local 4's Rod Meloni takes a break from reporting to take on a new trade.   

As Rod the Builder, he has tackled many different challenges over the years.   Last year he built gingerbread houses going against the owners of Taste Love Cupcakes.

In 2011 he competed against Landscape Services, a professional lighting company, to put on Christmas lights.

In 2010 he battled a mechanic from Box Maxey Ford to build a Cadillac Escalade Ride-on Toy.

In 2009 he competed against a 15-year-old to build a Lego City.

This year, Rod the Builder will find himself in the kitchen at the Great Lakes Culinary Center in Southfield.

Rod will face off against Jim Bologna, a chef who designs and sells kitchens at the center, works with chefs who use the center to test out the high end kitchen equipment and to finesse their recipes.

"Rod is in for a whirlwind.  Don't think your Friday is easy my friend," said Bologna as he prepared food for the Rod the Builder challenge.

Rod and Jim will tackle three food challenges in two hours beginning at Local 4 News First at 4.   They will be judged and a winner decided during Local 4 News at 6.

The three challenges include a burger challenge, a pizza challenge and a Thanksgiving leftover challenge.

Jim, who has over 20 years of experience working as executive chef at Opus One, The Townsend Hotel, Morels/Shiraz and Capital Grille, will give Rod a little help with a crash course in culinary skills.  He is also giving him three turkey leftover recipes to choose from to get him started.

"There is only one enemy in the kitchen, and that's time.  Time never stops, it never yields it's always there and when you're in a cooking challenge with a definite finish time, it's always present," said Bologna.  "That being said, Rod the clock is on you, it's watching, the cameras are rolling, just be ready."

Rod said he is not intimidated by Jim's experience.   He describes himself as more of a sous chef, but he has a secret weapon.

"I have a wife who can cook and I have a phone and I'm not afraid to use either," said Rod.

Judges are:

Joe Hakim, the co-creator the Hungry Dudes Food Blog/Food Photographer/Restaurant Consultant
Michelle Kobernick, Program Director of the Great Lakes Culinary Center
Rod's daughter Kayleigh Meloni

View: Recipes for 'Rod The Builder' cooking challenge

Here are the ingredients Rod and Jim will have to work with for each challenge.

Burger Battle:

·    burger meat
·    short ribs
·    buns
·    lettuce (hydro bibb)
·    heirloom tomatoes
·    avocados
·    onions
·    ketchup
·    mustard
·    sriracha
·    mayonnaise
·    coffee
·    kim chee
·    pickles
·    potatoes
·    cheddar
·    blue cheese
·    goat cheese
·    eggs
·    beets
·    peppers
·    cilantro
·    parsley
·    horseradish
·    crab meat
·    lemons
·    truffle oil
·    parmesan cheese

Pizza Battle:

·    pizza dough  (this will be ready made)
·    yeast
·    flour
·    pepperoni
·    mozzarella
·    chicken
·    BBQ sauce
·    prosciutto
·    cream
·    garlic
·    thyme
·    arugula
·    olive oil
·    balsamic
·    pineapple
·    peppers
·    Italian sausage
·    ham
·    black beans
·    artichokes
·    mushroom mix
·    basil
·    beta
·    asparagus

Thanksgiving Leftover Battle:

·    turkey
·    mashed potatoes
·    sweet potato
·    gravy
·    green bean casserole
·    cranberry sauce
·    roasted Brussel sprouts
·    caramelized carrots and parsnips
·    stuffing

The Great Lakes Culinary Center just opened and is located at 24101 W. Nine Mile Road in Southfield.

The owner, Marc Israel, says the Great Lakes Culinary Center is a kitchen stadium, resource hub and a launching pad for entrepreneurs.  Chefs and other industry professionals can use the space to build and test out commercial kitchens, and refine recipes.  

"I traveled across the country and compiled a wish list from well-known chefs and food industry professionals," said Israel in a news release. "The people I talked to were hungry for a specialized facility where high tech commercial equipment can be tested before purchasing, where chefs can develop and enhance their own recipes, and memorable private parties be held. Great Lakes Culinary Center is a premier, state-of-the-art resource for aspiring and seasoned chefs and other culinary professionals in Michigan and beyond."  

It can also hold special events including corporate or private parties.  The center also offers cooking classes.  For more information click here.

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