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By Kim Harris
Managing Editor 

Reality Rally's Celebrity Chef Showcase turns up the heat


Last updated 4/13/2018 at 1:35pm

Greg Gayne /FOX

MasterChef contestant Dino Luciano celebrates his win during the finale of MasterChef in 2017. Luciano is just one of many chefs participating in this year's Reality Rally Celebrity Chef Showcase, May 5.

Celebrity chefs from all across the country are sharpening their knives as they mentally prepare for Reality Rally's annual Celebrity Chef Showcase, an event that pits pairs of celebrity chefs against one another in a fast-paced cooking competition that really heats up in the make-shift kitchen.

Featuring many of today's hottest chefs, the competition is fun for the entire family, Reality Rally creator Gillian Larson said.

"There is no other opportunity like this, to be part of what it feels like to be in the studio for a network TV food show," she said. "It's fun and its entertaining, and they are watching celebrity chefs participate in a cook-off, just like the shows."

Two of chefs competing this year are no strangers to heat in the kitchen often felt during nationally televised cooking competitions.

Chef Dino Luciano, season 8 winner of FOX network's popular cooking competition "MasterChef," and Chef Amanda Collelo who competed on season 9 of Hell's Kitchen, also on FOX, are both competing in this year's Celebrity Chef Showdown, which takes place 6-9:30 p.m., May 5, at Temeku Hills Ballroom, 41687 Temeku Drive, in Temecula.

Collelo, who calls Temecula home, said she decided to participate in Reality Rally because she saw and understood the need in the community for the services provided by Michelle's Place Breast Cancer Resource Center, which Reality Rally benefits.

"Getting involved and helping fundraise for Michelle's Place is one way that I can help other women," she said. "I can imagine what it's like for families and women going through one of the toughest experiences of their lives, they can turn to the amazing people at Michelle's Place and benefit from all the comfort, help, support and services that they have to offer."

Luciano, who in addition to being a chef is also a ballet dancer, decided to participate as a way to honor his grandmother, who he credits with teaching him how to cook, and to honor one of his aunts. Both battled the disease.

"My grandmother, she had breast cancer once upon a time, she is a survivor, and one of my aunts had gotten breast cancer as well," he explained. "They beat the cancer, but it still devastated the family, and cancer is something I will do anything to fight. It's a terrible thing."

Collelo, who is a specialty chef at Fiore, the steakhouse inside Harrah's Resort Southern California, said that when she visited Michelle's Place Breast Cancer Resource Center for the first time and heard Michelle's story, she decided that not participating in Reality Rally was no longer an option.

"I had to do something to help," she said.

Although currently traveling throughout North America to learn about different cuisine cultures and is sharing his cooking tips and recipes on his YouTube channel, Dino Babydoll, as a first-time participant Luciano said he is excited to take part in this year's Reality Rally. He isn't doing any background research on the competition, he said, since he enjoys the thrill of having to create a dish out of some crazy, unheard of ingredients and the pressure of competition.

"I am very competitive, like Monica on 'Friends,' super crazy competitive," he said. "I'm preparing like I did for 'MasterChef.' I had never really watched it before I was on it. Everything that came to me was sort of a surprise, I think that is the fun part about it. So, I have not done any research on it. I think I perform better under pressure."

Luciano said he is looking forward to participating in Reality Rally for a number of reasons.

"I think what I am most excited for is getting to meet all of the chefs, the fans and all of the people involved," Luciano said.

Collelo, who won the first Celebrity Chef Showcase said she really likes the event, one which she originally pitched to Larson about six years ago.

"That little idea turned into the Chef Showcase," she said. "What I like best about the event is that we chefs get to use our talents to put on a live show for people and are ultimately raising more money for the people at Michelle's Place. Using my cooking abilities to help raise more money is very rewarding."

Collelo said she is looking forward to seeing who she gets paired with for this year's competition.

"There are so many amazing chefs that come to the event every year now, and I get to meet so many new people," she said. "Everyone has their own talents, and it's fun to collaborate and see what we can come up with. My friend, Chef Amanda Giblin, who I won the first Chef Showcase with, will be joining us this year.  Maybe we will team up again as Team AmandaSquared and win again!"


Amanda Collelo, a specialty chef at Fiore, the steakhouse inside Harrah's Resort Southern California, will compete in this year's Reality Rally Celebrity Chef Showcase, May 5.

According to both Collelo and Luciano, the most important thing to remember is that the Celebrity Chef Showcase, like all other Reality Rally events are for a good cause, to raise money for Michelle's Place.

"If you can sacrifice one coffee, snack, nail session, etc., and put that money toward a donation to Reality Rally, you really are impacting someone's life," Collelo said. "The funds don't go blindly toward research, and I promise you, every little bit helps.  If you can only donate $5, great! If you are able to give more, even better!  It's not about how much you give, it's about that you give."

Tickets for Celebrity Chef Showdown and all the other Reality Rally events can be purchased online at

"The bottom line is when people attend they are making a difference in the lives of people through their support of Michelle's Place," Larson said.


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