EXCLUSIVE: Chef Lorena Garcia Talks ‘Food Fighters,’ Latin Ingredients, and Dental Health with Colgate

Lorena Garcia (Photo: Mark VonHolden/Invision for Colgate Total® Mouthwash/AP Images)

On the heels of her successful run on “Top Chef: Estrellas,” Chef Lorena Garcia is keeping the ovens warm on the new NBC show, “Food Fighters.” The Venezuelan native, along with other top chefs including Cat Cora, Duff Goldman, Marcel Vigneron, and Elizabeth Falkner, compete against amateur cooks in this original part game show, part cooking competition.

Garcia took the time out of her busy schedule to talk to Xfinity Latino about her role on the show, her partnership with Colgate Total Mouthwash, and what ingredients should all aspiring Latino cooks add to their kitchens.

You had such a great run on Telemundo, we can't blame NBC for recruiting you for their new show, "Food Fighters." Tell us what we can expect.

"The show on NBC is a fantastic initiative. I always say, we chefs wouldn't have a career without our parents or families because the most amazing recipes are born from them. This show will showcase and elevate families. The mothers that are competing and the cash prizes they can win, can really make a difference for them. The show is about that and about honoring the chefs in their lives. And I'm there to make it harder for them. [laughs]

What is your favorite part about the show?

"The competition is a lot of fun! I love it because my food and my style of cuisine is all about my family recipes and how, with time and study, I've been able to elevate them. So for me, the competition is all about the contestants and helping them elevate their cuisine. It's tough though since they have to compete against professional chefs throughout each challenge to win the prize money."

Latin cuisine has become so popular! What tips do you have to share with readers looking to add a little Latin flare to their meals?

"I think it's all about the herbs and spices. I think cilantro, culantro, coriander, different types of basil, parsley, even rosemary and thyme are the typical spices used in Latin cuisine. I like to try out different combinations of these herbs, little by little seeing what works best. It also depends on whether I'm making a chicken or a fish.

As far as spices are concerned, I have about four or five different ones that I like to combine. They include cumin, garlic and onion powder, cinnamon, paprika or smoked paprika, and different chiles. What I do is create different combinations for each dish and when I have family over, I like to have the kids watch and learn about the flavors that work together. "

You recently partnered with Colgate Total Mouthwash. Tell us about that collaboration.

"I was thrilled when Colgate reached out and they wanted to do this campaign with me. It was right up alley for many different reasons. First off, as I'm speaking to you, my hands are full of dough. I'm making about fifteen different types of dough, so I'm having to taste each one. Every day I am having to taste the different things that I'm making. To be realistic, I can't go and brush my teeth after each tasting. So to start my day in the morning, I brush my teeth and I use Colgate Total Mouthwash. It keeps me free of germs for twelve hours giving me a fresh mouth to do my tastings all day.

This is me that I'm a professional. So for those of you at home who don't have time to brush your teeth between meals, this is the safest way to go."

How do you clean your palette between tastings?

"I use things like lemon wedges, herbs or breadsticks to clean my palette between tastings. I am challenging anyone who comes into my kitchen during different festivals with Colgate is to try different foods. I put out little cups with spices and herbs, without revealing their names, so that people can try and guess what they are. This way people can challenge their palettes, their sense of smell, while being interactive with your friends or your kids. Kids love seeing me cover my eyes and try out the different samples before correctly identifying them. They would laugh and say that I was doing magic! It was so much fun."

Check out the premiere episode of “Food Fighters: below:

[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/watch/Food-Fighters/6825742362887323112/311576643637/Elisha-Joyce/embed 580 476]
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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