By Kosher.com Staff
Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched the finale of Food Fight, go to the video now and watch it before continuing!
Rorie Weisberg, the Food Fight champion, shares her thoughts on competing, how she almost didn’t join Food Fight, and about focusing on “never getting stuck on the puff pastry.” Find out what Food Fight was like behind the scenes and how she feels about winning the competition.
What round was the most challenging for you? What was the hardest part of this competition?
Well, obviously the last round, because I have never used puff pastry in my entire life. I wasn’t always a healthy cook, so I definitely have experience with most products, but not puff pastry; I’ve just never used it. In the other rounds, the ingredient was something I’ve worked with and could do something with. It was just this last round that left me feeling totally lost, plus with the time ticking and the pressure I got very stuck and flustered.
What are you the most proud of regarding your participation in Food Fight?
I am a health coach, and I coach people to lead healthier lives. My program is about achieving health and balance and becoming an independent eater — knowing about how to make conscious choices that are in your best interests, even if that means having a treat once in a while.
I talk a lot about how to work with your mind, how to bypass automatic thinking and connect with your “wise mind.” I have worked hard on developing that skill, and I teach other people how to develop that skill.
So when I paused and realized, “Hey, I’m stuck in my automatic thinking,” I applied those same tools to my current situation to get myself back to a calmer place. Once I could tell myself, “You just have to get something on the plate and walk out with dignity knowing you did your best,” then I was able to get started.
How did you decide what to make under such tight time pressure?
For the other rounds, my head was spinning with ideas instantly. The first round, that chicken roll is one of the only things I do with deli (that and deli roll with my gluten-free mix). With chickpeas, I had so many ideas, because that’s a food I love and I use a lot.
With the puff pastry, once I had accessed a calmer, more positive mindset, then I was able to think, “OK, what can I do with puff pastry? It’s just dough. What do I make with dough that’s savory? Don’t overthink it; you know what to do.” I make a deli roll with my dough mix so I’m familiar with that. Once the deli roll was in the oven, I thought, how do I make this dish more “me”? And that’s how I came up with the salad.
For the sweet version, that was easier — I thought about desserts I make that are like pies, and of course that includes my gluten-free apple crisp. The pure pudding is something I make all the time, and I hoped the judges would like it. So that’s how I ended up with the apple strudel as my sweet dish.
What was it like to be at the film shoot that day? Can you share any behind-the-scenes stories?
Being there, behind the scenes, was incredible. The achdus between the contestants was amazing. It was not a fight! We all wanted the others to win. It was just such a beautiful, unique experience. We were all rooting for each other and complimenting each other’s dishes.
Spending two days getting to know the Kosher.com and Family Table teams was great. I love working with such talented, good people, and everything was done with such derech eretz and middos. I came home so excited from what a positive experience it was.
Did you ever think you were going to win? How did you feel when you found out you had won?
I really did not think I was going to win. Rivky is super-talented; all the chefs were super-talented. Her dish was so beautiful and creative and I was all prepared to walk out and say, “I lost to puff pastry and that’s OK.” My first thought when they said it was me was “What?”
It was such a mix of emotions. I was in absolute shock. I was not expecting to win at all. My goal was to get something on the plate, like I said before; I was preparing myself to lose and walk out with dignity!
My next thought, once I realized it was really true, was that I was excited because I feel like this is an opportunity for people to see that healthy food really can be delicious, and that’s my whole mission and passion at Full ‘N Free. If you use ingredients that are better for you, you can still eat such delicious food and it’s a win-win.
My message is: healthy food can win the food fight.
You have to be creative and willing to try new things, and you can enjoy healthy food just like you can enjoy some of the other treats out there.
For the judges to choose my food, while I stayed totally committed to my brand and my philosophy of cooking (within limits; some things I would have made homemade without the time limit, and I would have used other products in some cases, but that’s what was available), I think that sends such a strong message. Overall, I feel I was true to myself and the way that I really cook. And to show that this style could win — to me, that’s the win. The message that it sends is what I’m really the most happy about.
What are you going to get with the prize money?
I’ve actually been saving up for quite some time to do some work in my kitchen, and I’ll definitely be using the grand-prize money toward new appliances for my kitchen.
What feedback have you gotten from people you know since the show was aired?
I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, one of the best places on earth, and it’s amazing to see the outpouring of love and support. It’s also amazing to see the reach that Kosher.com has and how many people are watching.
My husband went to the bank and the non-Jewish bank teller said, “Oh, I heard your wife was in Food Fight!” My husband works in Monroe and he heard women there were talking about it. My mom’s been getting so many emails and calls from people, even people from my childhood, old friends from high school and seminary have reached out, and of course people from my neighborhood.
Beyond that, my kids were ecstatic — they were so excited to see me. “Look at Mommy on the video!” Being able to share this with them has been so much fun. Of course, I signed a contract and I wasn’t allowed to tell even my family who won. The last week was especially suspenseful—my little one who is turning nine soon has been like, “Look into my eyes, Mommy, I want to see if I can tell if you won!” So it’s been really, really nice.
What was the best part of being a competitor in Food Fight? What did you learn from the experience?
When Chanie asked me to join Food Fight I told her, “Come on, Chanie, why should I join Food Fight? No one’s going to vote for me, my stuff is simple and healthy and I’m not going to change how I cook and make anything that’s against what I’m all about.”
And she said, “Rorie, you never know; there’s a lot of people out there who want healthy food and they want to get creative and learn new ways of using that food…so just try!” So I said, “OK, it’s fine, so I’ll spend some time in my kitchen and take some pictures. And as far as I get, that’s how far I’ll get.” And I did.
I can’t believe I got this far. So I guess the lesson is that you never know — just try!
I think the whole situation that happened with the puff pastry also taught me a lesson that I can really use. Now when I get into a situation when I feel my automatic thinking kicking in, like I talked about earlier, I just tell myself, “Don’t get stuck on the puff pastry!”
I think it’s such an important lesson; things happen in our lives, we get stuck in a situation and get thrown a curveball, and we don’t really feel comfortable. When we get stuck in our own mind, we’re blocked off from the flexibility and creativity and wisdom that we all possess.
It’s interesting because, you know, I’m not a chef. I never went to culinary school. I read a lot of cookbooks and that’s about it. But at a time in my life when I needed to change my diet for health reasons, I became committed to learning to cook in a way that was healthy and had ingredients that love my body back.
I had to think out of the box, try new things. I am creative, I think fast on my feet, and I’m willing to try new things. Once I was able to access that part of my mind, I was able to utilize those strengths to handle the challenge that was in front of me.
I realized that I can choose my thoughts and choose my mindset. And then once I shifted my mindset to a positive one, the whole thing turned around. And for that lesson alone this whole experience was a gift from Hashem.
Food is meant to be delicious and something that we enjoy, something that nourishes our bodies. I think a lot of people try to use food to manipulate their bodies, sometimes in a very unhealthy way. The goal of what I try to live and teach is that you can make peace with your food and your body, and that you really can win the food fight.
By my winning Food Fight, I hope will encourage other people to try, to realize that they can change the way they look at food, the way they cook, the way they live, and that they can make choices they can feel great about.