Former resident to be on TV episode

Peggy Revell

Reality TV will have a bit of a Fort Frances flavour to it this Wednesday evening.
Former resident J.J. Witherspoon is set to appear on The Food Network’s “Dinner Party Wars,” which airs at 8 p.m. (CDT).
“There’s not much reality in reality TV, I’ll say that,” Witherspoon remarked about participating in the show which set her and a partner up against two other couples competing to hold the best dinner party.
“They kind of set you up as the characters they want you to be.
“But it was fun, it was a lot of fun,” she added.
Witherspoon, the daughter of Glenn and Judy Witherspoon who currently lives in Toronto, has yet to see the final cut of the episode.
“I’m hoping it’s not a disaster because there was alcohol involved,” she laughed.
The Food Network described the team’s meal as a “vodka-enhanced approach” of an “‘Around the World’ menu of nine complicated dishes.”
“You take a lot of direction from them,” Witherspoon recalled. “It’s definitely not scripted, but they point you in the direction they want you to go.
“They wanted us to be the real cocky ones because they might have spotted a little bit of cockiness and wanted to amplify it,” she reasoned.
She and her dinner party partner also got set up a little bit, including an omission that one of their guests would be allergic to butter, resulting in this guest throwing up after eating their appetizer.
“It’s all reality, it’s all fun, it’s nothing serious. You just try not to react to that,” she remarked.
The culinary competition comes as Witherspoon enters a new career as a chef.
“I was a shrink for 10 years and I just needed something more,” she explained. “I felt like I was dying creatively because I’m such a creative person.
“I just needed something else that I was passionate about,” she stressed.
“[So] I put all my eggs in one basket and decided to go back to school.”
Graduating last December from Liaison College, Witherspoon was selected to do the “Dinner Party Wars” episode when a casting call came to the culinary college looking for possible participants.
“I wish I could have done it now because I hadn’t even started working,” she noted. “I had just got out of culinary school when we did it.
“And it’s amazing what you learn in a short period of time.
“I feel like I’m a totally different chef than I was six months ago when I shot it [the episode].”
Since graduating, Witherspoon said she “really lucked out,” landing a position at the new Oliver & Bonacini restaurant “Luma,” which is one of the top restaurants in Toronto.
“We’re in the new TIFF building—the Toronto International Film Festival—so that’s what we’ve been doing now,” she said.
“We’ve been cooking for the stars for the last week-and-a-half.
“You have to love it,” she stressed. “I do love it. I worked 93 hours last week but I loved it.
“It feels like you’re in jail, but it’s a good jail. Like a work release program,” she explained.
“All you do is sleep and work,” she added. “You work 14-15 hours a day, go back to sleep, and then work.”