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First Posted: 12/12/2014

Gene, meet Guy. Guy, meet Gene.

Chef Gene Philbin of Peculiar Culinary Company, a catering and pop-up restaurant company based in Greater Pittston, will compete on the Food Network’s Christmas episode “Guy’s Grocery Games” at 8 p.m. tonight, Dec. 14, which he taped back in March.

The show is hosted by renowned chef and Food Network star Guy Fieri. During the show, Fieri sends four talented chefs running through grocery store aisles in a high-stakes, high-skills, cooking competition. Throughout the show, chefs are hit with real-world challenges. Some of those challenges are learning that essential ingredients are suddenly out of stock or cooking with five items or less.

At the end of the show, the last chef standing has a chance to go home with a big paycheck.

“As a whole, the experience was pretty amazing,” Philbin said. “It was the most fun I’ve ever had cooking and competing – just being a part of something different. It was a blast.”

Philbin’s fast-paced cooking experience should provide him with an edge. And it did. He’s always cooking on a deadline or on location. From the beginning, however, Philbin hasn’t been a fan of going to the grocery store to stock up on supplies. So, he would always move as fast as he could to get it over with.

“That helped big time,” he said. “I would go in there with an agenda, list, mindset and hand them my card – out the door. Because of thatm I was able to move fast during the game.”

Philbin originally applied to compete on the popular “Chopped,” another Food Network show. The network received his application and notified him he would be a good fit for Fieri’s show. He traveled to California in March to film the episode.

This episode is a Christmas episode, Philbin said. After all the paperwork was finally filled out and the waiting was over, Philbin got to do what he was waiting to do: cook.

All four chefs started the first round in “controlled chaos,” Philbin said. He was unable to elaborate as the episode has yet to premiere.

“I finally got to do what I wanted to do,” he said. “I heard ‘one, two three, go!’ I took off with my cart. It was nuts. We’re sprinting around this place and tripping and falling. It was controlled chaos.”

One of the best parts of his trip to California was meeting Fieri. Philbin said Fieri gets a bad rap from the public; however, Philbin had only nice things to say about the show’s host.

“He has a character on TV that has done him well,” Philbin said. “He’s a family man and a good dude. He cares about his kids and he treats his crew with respect and has fun with them.”

Fieri can been seen on several Food Network cooking shows, including “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” and has co-authored three books.

Philbin also said Fieri took the time to learn everything about him and his family, along with the reason he cooks.

“He cared enough to get a little bit deeper,” Philbin said.

Philbin formed the Peculiar Culinary Company in August 2012. The main operation is located on Spring Street in Avoca and he just opened a new location on 30 Center St. in Hughestown. Philbin graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in 2004 and has ver 15 years of experience in the food service industry.

Peculiar Culinary Company showcases Philbin’s cooking in supper clubs, catering events and pop-up restaurants.