Frankenstein's monster, if you recall your English lit, was something extraordinary assembled from various parts.
That is the guiding principle behind Frankenfood, a Spike TV series premiering at 10 p.m. Sunday, June 22. The food competition series visits various cities - 10 for the first season - and asks home cooks to create tasty dishes by assembling disparate ingredients. Fusion, if you will. More ambitious than peanut butter and chocolate, though.
Tony Luke Jr., the Philly actor, musician and sandwich baron, is along with New York chef Josh Capon - a three-time winner of Rachael Ray's Burger Bash - to sample their creations, along with a guest judge from each city.
The studio audience votes on the winner, who receives $10,000 in each city.
"You watch other food shows, you learn recipes, you learn this and that," Luke says. "This show really inspires everyday people to go in the kitchen and have fun with food and just be creative. This is the everyday person's food show - not pretentious at all. You learn food facts, yes. Josh is a smart and talented chef, but then there's me, the street guy who is always saying, 'What does that mean?'"
The dishes that contestants present to the judges are deemed "Frankenfood" or worthy of "the spitter," a metal bucket the judges put to good use.
"There were a lot of spitters," Luke said in a recent chat. "People think they can just put Nutella on something and make it a Frankenfood."
Luke recalls sampling a baby octopus prepared inside an aspic that was "so horribly bad, I still get nightmares from it."
Bobby Fisher, chef at Molly Malloy's at Reading Terminal Market and the guest judge on the Philadelphia-shot episode, recoils at the memory of sushi dusted with a powder made from ground-up Skittles candies. "I'll never forget that," he said.
But Luke found some gems in his travels, including an apple stuffed with bacon and eggs and called The Apple That Went to Brunch.
Philadelphia's episode has not yet been scheduled. Fisher will put the winning dish from the Philly episode on Molly Malloy's menu.
Luke said the tapings were "packed in every city. Everywhere else, I was just the co-host and nobody knew me."
But in Philly, it was like, "Hey, Tony Luke! My man!"
That is, Luke said, "until I said, 'I think your dish sucks.' Then they yelled, 'I think you suck. Your cheesesteaks suck. I'm never going back to your place.'
"Philly's a passionate city."