Saturday, February 6, 2016

'Chopped for junk food': Marc Summers is back

Rewrapped premieres 8 p.m. Monday, April 21 on Food Network.

'Chopped for junk food': Marc Summers is back

TV host Marc Summers at Buddakan, April 14, 2014.
TV host Marc Summers at Buddakan, April 14, 2014. STEPHANIE AARONSON /

The longest-running Food Network series is Unwrapped, in which host Marc Summers dissects the making of snack foods, including Twinkies, Tastykakes, Goldfish crackers, pretzel rods, potato chips and the like.

"We had all this footage from 15 years of Unwrapped," Summers said. "How could we, as they say in the industry, repurpose that?"

How about a competition?

And so Rewrapped was born. It premieres at 8 p.m. Monday, April 21 on Food Network.

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Joey Fatone hosts the 13 episodes, and Summers is head judge, leading a rotating panel of experts.

In round one, they show a clip of a snack food to three pro chefs, who are expected to duplicate the recipe perfectly in taste and appearance in 30 minutes.

In round two, the chefs are asked to use these recipes to make something sweet or savory.

"It's Chopped for junk food," Summers said last week at an interview over lunch at Buddakan.

"It's amazing how creative these people got. I mean, Entenmann's chocolate-chip cookies. What are you going to do? A guy made a turkey meatball sandwich on a brioche bun that was encrusted with meatballs with the chocolate-chip cookies. I looked at it and said, 'This is going to be the oddest thing I've eaten in my life.' It was fantastic. It was a combination of sweet and savory. It just blew my head open."

Summers has the enviable reputation of having a fan base that's younger than his own 62 years. In 1986, he became the ringleader of Double Dare, Nickelodeon's monster game show, which ran into the 1990s.

But he has been largely off camera for several years, pretty much since Unwrapped wrapped.

"As one gets older in the industry, once you get grayer, and I don't have any tattoos or piercings... It's the only industry in the world where the more experience you have, the less they want you. ... I could host a game, talk or reality series in a nanosecond, but they're looking at people, with all due respect, that I've never heard of. I get it. There's a changing of the guard every 20 years."

Summers said he realized that his time in front of the camera was coming to an end, so he began producing. That brought him to Philadelphia, where he worked on Dinner Impossible with Center City production house Shooters Post & Transfer. That segued into Restaurant Impossible.

Along the way, he worked behind the scenes helping talent such as an early Ryan Seacrest (Ultimate Revenge), Guy Fieri (post Next Food Network Star), and Restaurant/Dinner Impossible's Robert Irvine.

Then came the accident. After landing in Philly from Kansas City after a Restaurant Impossible shoot in August 2012, he got into a cab. "The weather was horrific. There was a torrential downpour and the driver was talking on the phone and driving too fast. He started to hydroplane and hit the divider on I-95," Summers said. His face smashed into the credit-card reader on the partition and broke most of the bones from his forehead down.

He credits Penn surgeon Jesse Taylor with putting him back together. Rewrapping him, as it were.

Behind the skin, though, is a "ton of titanium," he said.

And he's not 100 percent. He suffers vision problems. Appearing on Fox29's Good Day recently, "I looked in the teleprompter and one becomes two. It takes every ounce of my being to focus and concentrate."

Doing Rewrapped was a snap. "I get to sit back, eat food and comment on it," he said.

Staff Writer
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Michael Klein, the editor/producer of, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here.

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