"I need to make my grandmother proud," said local entrepreneur and former U.S. Marine Quentin Love as he prepared his grandmother's cabbage and macaroni and cheese in a cook-off on the TV reality show "Guy's Grocery Games."
"Everybody has to bring their A-game. I can't lose this competition,' Love said.
Love's family, friends and colleagues gathered at a viewing party Dec. 15 at his West Side restaurant Turkey Chop Gourmet Grill, 3506 W Chicago Ave., where they watched an episode of him competing against three other military vets at a grocery store.
Stephanie Hart, owner and founder of Brown Sugar Bakery on Chicago's South Side, said the viewing party is a great opportunity for businesses and residents to learn about Turkey Chop and the West Side community.
Hart said she was with Love when he got the call to be on the show.
"I told him, 'Just do you and enjoy the moment. That's what it's really about,'" Hart said.
"Guy's Grocery Games", hosted by Guy Fieri on the Food Network Channel, has three rounds where chefs are given a limited amount of time to shop and cook a dish. One chef is eliminated by three judges after each round and the last chef remaining can win a shopping spree.
As an added bonus for winning the competition, Love was given a grocery list and was able to go on a two-minute shopping spree at the grocery store, where he won a grand prize of $36,000 for finding all of the items on the list.
"Just because you win doesn't mean you're automatically guaranteed the money. The fourth round is the shopping spree itself," he said.
Love, 43, donated half of that amount to the Illinois branch of the United Service Organization, which helps military service members and their families, and the other half to the weekly soup kitchen at Turkey Chop to feed the homeless.
The kitchen has fed more than 50,000 people so far.
"It was a blessing to be there and to bring positivity to the city of Chicago," Love said.
Laughs, cheers and loud "Go Quentin" chants filled the restaurant as Love's supporters watched the former soldier run down the aisles of the grocery store to assemble his ingredients.
In the third round, judges craved Love's five-star dinner -- sea bass, swiss chard and vodka cream sauce, which ultimately led him to winning the competition.
Love said his grandmother taught him all of the fundamentals of cooking.
"She taught me how to cook when I was seven years old," said Love. "I was cooking breakfast and making cakes."
Addie Lewis, Love's grandmother, said she taught him to be the best in everything he does.
"We put our all in everything we do," Lewis said. "We don't take anything less than the best."
Besides Turkey Chop, Love owns a string of other restaurants and has previously owned a barbershop and grocery store.
"My objective is to impact Chicago communities through their appetite," Love said.
Kristin Harper said customers constantly rave about his turkey burgers and tacos and that he is a perfectionist.
"The flavors, the seasoning, they're always fresh and hot," Harper said. "He wants to cook for his own people. He cooks with love and passion."
Love said his secret style to cooking is developing a good palate, which is a sense of taste for good food.
"By cooking, you can impact man, woman and child. Food connects to the soul," Love said.
The Food Network Channel will air encores of the "Guys Grocery Games" episode featuring Love on Dec. 19 at 3 p.m., Dec. 20 at 6 p.m. and Dec. 21 at 5 p.m.
"He's a visionary. I'm proud of him," said Patrician Riley, Love's godmother. "Once you get to know him, you got a friend for life."
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