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Ho-Chunk chef Elena Terry to compete on Food Network’s BBQ Brawl; season five premieres Monday

Elena Terry. Photo by Patrick Farabaugh.

Chef Elena Terry’s love for outdoor, open-fire cooking goes way back.

“That’s been my entire life. It’s been the foundation of my passion for cooking,” she said in an interview this week. “I can remember being a really, really young child at our open fire, outdoor cooking space with my great grandma, and my grandma and all of her sisters, and working on corn, or making a ceremonial meal out there.  I was always taught from a very young age to understand how to cook outside. And that has been a place of comfort for me. I feel a deeper understanding of that kind of cookery. And it means a little bit more for me, as far as what I get out of doing my job when it’s in those spaces.”

Terry, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, catering chef and founder of the nonprofit organization Wild Bearies, will bring all that love and expertise to bear as one of 12 contestants on the fifth season of BBQ Brawl.  The first episode will air at 8 pm Monday, July 8 on Food Network.

The show features celebrity chefs Bobby Flay, Sunny Anderson and Michael Voltaggio, each of whom leads a team of contestants through 10 rigorous challenges. Judges Carson Kressley, Rodney Scott and Brooke Williamson determine the most and least successful dishes in each round, and at the end of 10 episodes, only one will win the coveted “Master of the ‘Cue” title.

These days, Terry is no stranger to the national spotlight. She competed on an episode of “Chopped,” another Food Network show, in 2023, and earlier this year was a guest judge and mentor on the Bravo show Top Chef.

“It was kind of natural when the opportunity arose” to compete on BBQ Brawl, Terry said.

She said it was an especially diverse group of contestants.

“It was an incredible group of diverse pitmasters,” she said. “To be included among 12 of the top pitmasters in the country is an honor and then to be able to not only cook alongside them, but compete against them, it was incredible.”