Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas of the Atlanta girl group TLC and UGA and Pittsburgh Steeler football player Hines Ward have known each other for years.
On Sunday, Jan. 6 at 9 p.m., the two metro Atlanta stars will be facing off against six other celebrities trying to win $50,000 for their respective charities on Food Network’s second season of “Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Food Cook-Off.”(Hines and Chilli each have their own charity. Chilli’s Crew holds a summer camp for young girls. Hines Ward Helping Hands Foundation improves literacy among inner-city children.)
Chilli was on Guy Fieri’s team with Cornelia Guest, Dean McDermott, and Johnny Weir. Ward was on the opposing Rachael Ray’s team with Carnie Wilson, Kathy Najimy and Gilbert Gottfried.
“We smack talked all day for Atlanta bragging rights,” Ward said in a phone interview last month.
“I don’t like lose in anything,” he added. But he admitted others (especially Wilson) knew a heck of a lot more about cooking than he did but he did have a handful of recipes he knew he could rely on. He called comic Gottfried “my boy boo. He was hysterical. I clinged on to him. And the other two ladies were amazing, a treasure.”
He came back from the competition and purchased a food processor and blender. He learned how to use cilantro. “I’m watching infomercials now for things like the Ninja blender,” he said.
Chilli, in a separate interview, said Ward “got on my last nerve. We had this brother-sister love-hate thing going.” Ward admitted to only knowing a few recipes really well while Chilli said she cooked “healthy soul food” regularly. Collard greens and kale are regularly on her meal list. Her best dish though is “eight-hour chicken,” she said. “It falls off the bone. It’s good!”
“I thoroughly enjoy cooking,” said the fit R&B singer. “I like baking more than I like cooking. I like to make things look pretty.”
Expect her competitve juices to show on camera. “I get serious in the kitchen. When I cook, I don’t like help. But I had to go with the program and work with a team. I loved everbody on my team anyway.”
And since she met Carnie Wilson, they even talked of a TLC/Wilson Phillips collaboration. “I hope we can make that happen,” she said.
Najimy, she added, “makes you feel warm and fuzzy.”
Her publicity Christal Jordan submitted Chilli’s name to the show, she said, because “she’s an amazing cook. People never believe me. They look at her and say, ‘She doesn’t look like a woman who spends a lot of time in the kitchen!’ She cooks like an 80-year-old big mama.”
“I do spend a lot of time in the kitchen,” Chilli said. “It’s my favorite place to hang out.”
“Rachael Vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off,” 9 p.m. January 6, Food