Meet Four More Chefs From “The Great American Recipe”

Judges Tiffany Derry and Graham Elliot, host Alejandra Ramos and Leah Cohen (L-R).

June 9, 2022 | 12:00 o’clock

Christina McAlvey, Silvia Martinez, Foo Nguyen and Dan Rinaldi all use family heritage recipes to create connection and joy

  • Christina Zeiders



    Christina Zeiders

    Christina Zeiders is the communication specialist at WITF. She helps to publicize all of WITF’s programs, events and community conversations.

Judges Tiffany Derry and Graham Elliot, presenter Alejandra Ramos and Leah Cohen (LR).


Judges Tiffany Derry and Graham Elliot, presenter Alejandra Ramos and Leah Cohen (LR).

The great American recipe premiere in two weeks! Watch Friday, June 24 at 9 p.m. on WITF TV, the PBS Video App, or online. The eight-part competition series celebrates the multiculturalism that makes American food so vibrant and unique.

Ten chefs will share their unique culinary styles, all shaped by their backgrounds – Syrian, Hungarian, Vietnamese, Mexican, Italian, Puerto Rican, Filipino and Southern soul food. The finished dishes represent the flavor and diversity of American home cooking.

In each episode, contestants show off two of their beloved signature dishes as they compete in the national quest for “The Great American Recipe.”

Host Alejandra Ramos and judges Leah Cohen, Tiffany Derry and Graham Elliot bring their professional insight and culinary knowledge to encourage and support our participants.

Meet four more of our chefs:

Christina McAlvey calls her food “Fili-fusion,” a blend of Filipino flavors mixed with her favorite cuisines. She was born in Michigan shortly after her parents immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in the 1970s. From an early age she helped her parents in the kitchen, made Filipino dishes and brought home-cooked meals to school for lunch. Her signature dish is Chicken Adobo, which her father taught her to make as a child.

Now living in Portland, she finds that the area’s outdoor lifestyle encourages her to cook healthy, environmentally sustainable meals using local organic and gluten-free ingredients. With her interest in fitness, she enjoys making healthier versions of her family’s favorite Filipino recipes.

As a small business banker with a busy personal and professional life, she doesn’t always have time to tackle complicated recipes and has learned to make simple and delicious meals with the ingredients she has on hand.

Silvia Martinez grew up in Guanajuato, Mexico cooking authentic dishes that she learned from her grandmother, aunts and mother. After her studies, Silvia worked as a human resources executive and university lecturer. She met and married an American and they moved to California’s Central Coast.

Silvia’s transition to life in the United States was challenging, but once she became a mother, she connected with other Latinx parents by sharing her favorite recipes and bicultural life through her popular bilingual website.

She has adapted some of her Mexican recipes to the Californian lifestyle while also retaining many traditional Mexican dishes. One of her signature dishes is Sopa Tarasca, a pinto bean soup with tomatoes and chili ancho, topped with crispy tortilla strips, avocado, and queso fresco.

Foo Nguyen enjoys preparing his family’s favorite recipes and considers his Vietnamese heritage to be his greatest culinary influence. His family immigrated to the United States when he was three and settled in Cincinnati, where he lived until he was 22.

Foo’s large family – he is one of eight children – rarely ate out due to cost, so his mother always served home-cooked meals. When he started cooking, he combined Asian flavors with Midwestern classics. After his mother was diagnosed with dementia, he was motivated to continue her Vietnamese cooking traditions for his Korean-American wife and their two daughters.

He now lives in Orange County, California, which has a large Asian community and easy access to great ingredients. Foo is also a stand-up comedian and believes that food and comedy are the two things that can put a smile on a person’s face. His signature dish? Spring rolls filled with pork, crab and shrimp – a family tradition started by his mother.

Dan Rinaldic grew up in a multi-generational Italian family and takes pride in sharing his family recipes. He learned to cook in his grandmother’s kitchen, where Sunday dinners were a staple of his childhood.

He enjoys making homemade pasta and continues this tradition with his wife, daughter and grandchildren. The secret of his cooking is heirloom Calabrian peppers, originally brought from Italy, and he tries to incorporate them into as many dishes as possible.

Dan has been a firefighter for 33 years and enjoys preparing hearty meals to share with his colleagues in the fire station. While on duty, Dan found himself trapped in a burning house, sustaining third-degree burns and shattered limbs before being rescued by his fellow firefighters. After his recovery, he came back stronger and has continued to thrive in the job he loves so much. His signature dish (and a fire station favorite) is his grandmother’s recipe for meat sauce: Sunday gravy with meatballs.

Watch The great American recipe Friday at 9 p.m. from June 24, or stream it on-demand from the PBS Video App and online. Episodes are free to stream until December 31, 2022.