If it’s hard for you to believe that the Back of House Brawl, a late-night chef’s battle in food truck kitchens in the parking lot of a favorite local dive bar, has transformed into a TV show, think how Jolene Mannina feels. The former food trucker and current scene fixture launched the Brawl at Tommy Rockers, and now the entire universe will get to take part in its rowdy, delicious, decidedly Vegas scene. Relativity Television recently filmed eight one-hour episodes of Late Nite Chef Fight over a little more than a week’s time in the parking lot at the Palms. The series premieres November 29 on FYI, A&E’s new network (local Cox Cable channel 336).
Hosted by Laila Ali (Muhammad’s daughter) and local chef Vic “Vegas” Moea and featuring guest judges like chefs Spike Mendelsohn and Chris Oh, the show—like the Brawl—is all about the competition. “It’s definitely reformatted, because it has to appeal to more than just my target market here in town,” Mannina says. “It’s more structured, and it will showcase the chefs a little more. But I had my hands into it more than I thought I would. The producers were really into what it was before, and we all loved every second of it.”
Many local chefs from restaurants on and off the Strip participated in Late Nite Chef Fight, lending lots of Vegas flavor. “We had a really good time and everybody was happy to see the event come to this, but they kept saying, ‘You’re still gonna do the Brawl on the side, right?’ I guess I have to schedule something soon,” Mannina says.
She’s been crazy busy, somehow finding time to shoot the show while managing the recent Jewish Community Center BBQ Cook-off, Fremont East’s Downtown Wednesdays and the Life Is Beautiful afterparty series Later Louder, all through her Relish culinary events company. It’s all in a month’s work for Mannina—expect to see a Late Nite Chef Fight viewing party at Tommy Rockers this month.