Chef Britt finishes strong on ‘Alex vs America’

GOOD THINGS KITCHEN: Delaware Avenue Oyster House executive chef Britt Rescigno (center) smiles with restaurant owners Mike and Toby Sweeney. (Photo taken by Jack Reynolds)

Delaware Avenue Oyster House Executive Chef Britt Rescigno once again proved her culinary prowess in the season premiere of “Alex vs. America.” On Sunday, July 31, the Tuckerton resident lit up TV screens across the country, showcasing her quick-wittedness and flair for Italian cuisine and seafood.

Rescigno has now appeared four times on the Food Network. She was a winner on “Chopped”, a runner-up on “Chopped Champions” and, most recently, she “Beat Bobby Flay” on her home turf.

Heading into “Alex vs. America,” Rescigno had hoped for a similar outcome. In her episode, she competed with two other Italian chefs to topple esteemed chef Alex Guarnaschelli.

Although Rescigno defeated the other two contestants in the second round, she failed to dethrone Chef Alex herself. Either way, she relished the opportunity to cook alongside one of her longtime idols.

“She’s such a powerful and strong woman, and it’s so hard to be powerful and strong in this industry,” Rescigno said. “It’s truly an honor to be able to cook next to her.”

In the first round, the three competitors had the opportunity to choose the conditions of the round.

“Everything is strategic when it comes to ‘Alex vs. America,'” Rescigno said.

Three categories of options were presented, and contestants had to choose the qualifications that not only gave them the best chance of winning, but which they thought would pose the most difficulty for Chef Alex. They were competing with each other, of course, but they were also a team in their effort to beat the leader Alex. In the end, they chose pasta as the starch, canned beef as the protein, and Sunday dinner as the planned meal.

Rescigno made it through the first round, using his time to make handmade pasta, a risk none of the other competing chefs took. She worked seamlessly in canned beef, which proved to be a difficult task for other chefs. The result was a delicious tagliatelle Bolognese.

In round two, Rescigno used his knowledge of seafood and his experience working on the Jersey Shore to cook a seared striped bass dish using just seven ingredients in 35 minutes.

In the episode, Chef Alex admitted that Rescigno nipped at his heels with every challenge.

“It was so humbling,” Rescigno said of the experience.

From Rescigno’s previous Food Network appearances, one of the biggest skills she’s taken away is time management.

“I learned what 20 minutes really is,” she said, “and what I can do to push myself in such a short time.”

On “Chopped,” Rescigno made handmade pasta in 40 minutes, but that was years ago. This time, she was convinced she could do it in less time, and sure enough, she did.

She brought her honed time management skills to her position as executive chef at the Delaware Avenue Oyster House and Bar in Beach Haven Terrace, which she finds incredibly useful.

“The more I can squeeze out of every minute, the better,” she said.

For the episode’s original broadcast on Sunday, Rescigno was surrounded by loved ones and supporters whose enthusiasm was evident in their shouts and cheers of excitement. Rescigno not only cooks with grace and skill, but also entertains the audience with witty commentary and a positive, enthusiastic attitude.

“I care about having these people behind me who want to see me do this stuff,” she said of the watch party. “The amount of support I have and the love I felt was just amazing.”

—Kelly McElroy

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