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Professor Fillenworth’s Food Network television appearance caps a year of challenges and triumphs

Jan 13, 2021

An adjunct instructor with Grand Rapids Community College’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education will compete for $10,000 on the Food Network’s “Supermarket Stakeout” television show.

Jenn Fillenworth, who is a GRCC alumna as well as an instructor, will be one of four contestants in the Jan. 19 episode of the show, which requires chefs to stake out a grocery store parking lot and convince shoppers to sell them their purchases. The chefs then must create dishes based on different themes. They are given $500 to spend on all three rounds of the competition, and the winner receives $10,000.

The network first reached out to Fillenworth, a registered dietitian and personal chef, in 2019, but she was unable to compete because of a serious car accident.

“I put in a lot of work over the past year to get physically stronger to be able to do something this physical and demanding,” she said. “It has been such a long battle over the past year, and I’m beyond thankful for this opportunity and to represent Grand Rapids on national television!”

Fillenworth’s turn in the competition was delayed again when COVID-19 put a pause on production. She was finally able to fly out to Los Angeles in October.

Fillenworth, who writes the “Jenny with the Good Eats” blog, received a West Michigan Woman Brilliance Award last fall and was named one of the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s “40 Under 40 Business Leaders.”

She recently became executive chef at Root Farmacy Cafe, which grew from an interest in food medicine. After preparing nutritious meals as a personal chef, Fillenworth said she and her partners wanted to create meals to go, seeing a rising demand for take-out dining.  

“I have my bachelor's and master's degrees in Dietetics and I specifically chose to do the personal chef program at the Secchia Institute so I could create a culinary program like this that involved my nutrition background,” she said. “I also wanted to create really fun and flavorful healthy meals. I think there is a big stereotype that healthy food cannot taste good, so it's our goal to definitely prove this wrong!”

The business also focuses on sustainability. Customers pre-order food, allowing them to buy the amount of food she is going to cook for the week, eliminating waste. Any extra meals not sold through preorder are sold in the Root Pharmacy storefront on Wealthy Street. Meals are sold in compostable containers.

Her episode of “Supermarket Stakeout airs at 10 p.m. Jan. 19 on the Food Network.

Grand Rapids Community College offers learners of all ages opportunities to gain credits for degrees or transfer and in-demand career skills leading to rewarding careers. GRCC was established in 1914 – Michigan’s first community college – and offers affordable classes on weekdays, evenings, Saturdays and online at locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.