clash of the grandmas

clash of the grandmas

My debut on ‘Clash of the Grandmas’ was a real fight to the end. In the final competition, it was my dough that cost me the dough!

Clash of the Grandmas Contestants

OK, I admit, I’ve never really thought of myself as a ‘grandma’ in the traditional sense. I mean, yes, I loved and adored my paternal grandmother, Alice, whom I was named after. Much of my cooking was inspired by spending hours on end in the kitchen with her. And, I think I have a lot of her ‘piss n’ vinegar’ personality. I didn’t know my Croatian grandmother, Mary, very well. She passed away in her early 60s. Such a shame because I could have learned so much from her. And, here I am now in my 60s, and I in no way resemble the ‘grandmothers’ that I were in my life. But, I am a grandma, and I’m showing the world on Food Network’s new show, Clash of the Grandmas!

My Grandma Rebich. Second row. Third from the left. Probably about 63 years old. So proud to get her American citizenship.

I mean my Grandma Alice was probably not much older than I am now when I hung out in her kitchen back in the late 1950s and 1960s. But, she seemed ‘old’ to me as a kid. Oh, yeah, her personality was sparky, she was witty, she was full of energy, but she looked old. Wire rim spectacles. Frumpy dresses, handkerchiefs tucked under the arm of her sweater or dress, grey blue short curly hair that was meticulously done once weekly at the ‘beauty parlor’. Very much the same with what I can remember about my Croatian grandma.

clash of the grandmas
My Grandma Alice Cook. Probably about 70 years old. Dang, not that ‘old’!


Clash of the Grandmas 2017

And, here I am in 2017 very much a grandma. I knew I’d always be a mom, but a grandmother, no that seemed only for ‘old’ people. However, with the advent of Food Network’s new hit show,  ‘Clash of the Grandmas’ all that has changed. Grandmas are no longer the images that we might have plastered in our minds from decades ago. That stereotype has been shattered! All you have to do is watch this hit show and see what I mean. Or go to Twitter and put in the hashtag #clashofthegrandmas and read the tweets about this show. Yep, it’s the next best hit for this network after ‘Chopped’!

clash of the grandmas
Mama Ally. Grandma. Cameron Mathison, host, of the show gets me all shook up!

I’m a grandma who’s known to my seven grandchildren, ranging in ages from 25 to 14 months, as Mama Ally. I like to think that I’m the kind of grandmother who is hip, current and keeping up with the changes in the world, especially technology and social media. I know I’m the kind of grandma who does cool things with the kids, from snowshoeing, camping trips, motorcycle riding to, yes, making cookies in the kitchen.

clash of the grandmas
Hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim in my 60s. No hill for a climber!

Food Network Competition Shows

So, what possessed me to audition for ‘Clash of the Grandmas’? Well, it was a strong desire to share with the world, but primarily to share with my grandchildren something that, I hope, will inspire them to keep on truckin’, keep on growin’, keep on dreamin’ as they someday enter this stage of their lives. This honor of being a grandmother is part of my joie de vivre of life and boho living.

clash of the grandmas
Motorcycle riding out West with my two grandchildren, Charlie and Sydney. I was in my mid 50s.

Competing on ‘Clash of the Grandmas’ was not a walk in the park. I’ve done a lot of food competitions, and this show was right there in the tops for grueling. You have to have a razor focus. Be cool under immense pressure. Think quick on your feet. Be able to execute within tight and ticking time limits. And, more. You have the huge element of surprise not knowing what you’re going to be asked to cook. Nor do you know what glitches the show’s producers want to throw in to keep the episode interesting and entertaining! You can’t be a grandma who’s not in pretty darn good shape either because filming, being on your feet for hours, being surrounded by cameras, makeup, hair, people, and information is coming at you in split second speed!

clash of the grandmas
Competing in World Food Championships in my mid 60s.

Cooking Show

How in sam hill did I even make it to the show? Well, the first thing you do is go through a long tedious and detailed audition process. It can last for weeks or months. Casting agents and assistants are gathering information. They want to dig into who you are, what makes you tick, your personality, your life and see if you’re the right fit for their audience. Will you be fun to watch. Will you capture the hearts of America? Do you have a back story that’s compelling and engaging? From Skype interviews, videos, photos, phone interviews to sending in recipes, food photos and more, these casting agents dig deep to find the right people for these Food Network shows.

clash of the grandmas
That’s me in the hippie skirt. In Israel in 2013. Yep, this is a 60s something grandma.

Then what happens when you get that call that you’ve been cast? Well, it’s another round of months of paperwork! More details on your recipes. More information on your family. More photos. Appearance release forms signed by anyone who might be in a photo that they decide to use in final production. One photo I submitted was of my four of my children/spouses and the grands, but, yes, minus one daughter, her hubby and two grandsons. The casting age emailed me back and said, ‘Ally, all we want is your ‘immediate’ family, not your extended.’ I said, ‘This is immediate! And, there’re four missing!’

clash of the grandmas
Almost all the family. Daughter Lynn, hubby Mark and John and Charlie missing.

The Food Network Shows

Filming the show is all together another experience! Yes, you’re flown to L.A. All expenses paid. But, this is far from a ‘holiday’ or ‘vacation’. You’re out there for a purpose. There’s big money involved. In the case of this show, ten thousand dollars to the winner! Everything happens like a tornado. There’s makeup. There’s hair. There’s wardrobe. Food Network chooses the apron they want you to wear. And, yes, these are ‘granny’ lookin’ aprons that I never wear in my own kitchen. I prefer a tight black or white waist tied chef’s apron! While you have some say so in what you wear, the production team selects and chooses from what you’ve brought with you.

clash of the grandmas
I catch a quick pix in the green room with Sharone Hackman. Isn’t he a cutie pie!

Food Network Hosts

Besides the adorable ‘Clash of the Grandmas’ host, Cameron Mathison, probably the best part of this amazing experience on ‘Clash of the Grandmas’ was meeting my ‘competition’. The other grandmas. And, boy, were they spicy, hot and fun! You form new friendships, you talk about your grandchildren, you share pictures, but in the end, you walk into the Food Network kitchen to your ‘grandma’ station and you go for blood. You want to win!

But, regardless of the outcome, whether you get cut or make it to the very end for the final cookoff, you know that you’ve done something pretty phenomenal. More than just sharing family traditions and food. More than whipping up fine recipes and dishes. You’ve shown the world that dreams truly have no expiration date. And, that in this new world, this 21st century, the concept, the ideal, the image, the persona of ‘grandma’ has forever been altered by ‘Clash of the Grandmas’!

clash of the grandmas
2015 cooking in Central Mississippi at the US Foods professional kitchen. I was the guest of Let’s Eat Y’all!

Four globe-trotting grandmas take off on a culinary world tour! First, they have to make pizza the Belgian way, using a waffle iron as their only baking source. Next, it’s “aloha-ole!” as the grannies make a mash-up of Hawaiian and Mexican cuisines. Then, the final two grandmas go tropical as they turn the ingredients from a frozen daiquiri into a dessert that will earn them $10,000.
Competitors: Karen Darensburg (Albuquerque, New Mexico), Claudine Marshall (Agoura Hills, California), Ally Phillips (Murrell Inlet, South Carolina), Genevieve Vang (Detroit, Michigan)
Judges: Sharone Hackman, Aarti Sequiera, Jake Smollett

clash of the grandmas
My three youngest sous chefs in Mama Ally’s office.
clash of the grandmas
Lunch time for some of the family and grands. We’re missing four!
clash of the grandmas
Camping in the Rockies in 2015 with granddaughters, Salem and Sydney.
clash of the grandmas
Floating in the Dead Sea in 2013 while visiting Israel as a guest of ‘Taste of Israel’
clash of the grandmas
My four oldest grandchildren, John, Salem, Sydney and Charlie, with their 62 y/o Mama Ally.
clash of the grandmas
My Dad’s seven sisters. All probably in their early 60s (starting with Hallie on the far right to Teddy Gray on the far left) and younger down to late 30s. My name sake, Alice, is the fourth from the left. I think I have a lot of her spunk!
clash of the grandmas
After hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim…somewhere in my 60s.

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  1. Christine says:

    Very inspired with your enthusiasm for family, food and fitness. You have a drive/zest for life and it’s genuine. Keep reaching out to inspire others who want to learn or be encouraged. I see a global Africa outreach project in your future which will bring the great female cooks together who love others through food.

    1. Gosh, Christine! Thank you so very much for this encouraging comment! Yes, we all have so much to offer and just because we’re in those senior years doesn’t mean that we stop. Our experiences, knowledge and wisdom are like golden nuggets for younger folks. And, I love the Africa idea! xoxx ally

  2. Love the pictures!What strong women you have in your family! I know they’re watching you with such pride and joy, Alice. As are your friends and your fans. You’re still so beautiful, and full of that Appalachian piss and vinegar that has always defined you! And your character. You can move mountains, girlfriend. And you are such a wonderful role model for the rest of us grannies! Remember, those produces will see you and the title will change to Clash of the Glam Ma’s! I’m not writing a mini-series since my posts to you don’t seem to go through. I’ll just say,, break and leg and bring home the bacon!! Love you loads!!!!!

    1. Oh, my, Karyn…you always write such spirited and moving words. Thank you, dear Desert Rose! It’s a huge compliment coming from you. Yes, we’re both full of piss n’ vinegar, and that photo of my 7 Aunts…well, they were way ahead of their times, several as working women w/professions, some who went to college. It’s adventures like this that keep us young, luv. xoxo Love you kiddo! Always have. Always will!!

  3. You’re so very youthful, vibrant & positively brimming with life. I’d say you’re more their mamma, than grandma! I really truly hope this airs in Australia soon. We do have the Food network & Chopped, so here’s hoping it’s not too far away!

    1. Alli Kat Girl!!! You are one spitfire luv! And, I’m so glad we’re namesakes! I’m sure this episode will be on YT sometime down the road. I’m kinda chompin’ at the bits wondering how I’ll be portrayed…man, what an adventure…thank you, luv for those kind words…we are all pioneers in shattering stereotypes, even of grandmas!!! xoxo

  4. Robin Rudy says:

    Loved this story. Wrote down the date and time. Promise to watch.
    Good luck, girlfriend.

    1. Robin…my piss n’ vinegar girlfriend!! Love ya kiddo and can’t wait to spend hours w/you and Steve, sippin’ wine, laughin’ and being our crazy granny selves…we’re pioneers of breaking the stereotype! xoxo

  5. Awesome!! Can’t wait to watch

    1. Dee! Get ready for some fun…wow! I just hope I don’t look like a goof ball!! xoxo ~ally

  6. Sarah Wolfe says:

    Enjoyed reading your blog. I remember a few of your aunts! They were quite a group of wonderful ladies. Loved your idea of the “new” Grandmother. Mine are still little but I hope to be around to do the fun things you do with yours! Merry Christmas Alice! Love Sarah

    1. Sarah! Yes, you surely remember some of my Cook Aunties…they were a large family that and many never left home, of if they did, like Aunt Alice (Tiny), moved just down the street! Yes, you are a ‘new’ grandmother…you’ll gonna rock those babies’ worlds w/your shenanigans!! xoxo Love you!

  7. Hi Ally, It would be fun to meet! I’m a November 27th Clash of the Grandmas, Grandma. It was great exhausting fun. Looking forwad to your show this weekend!

    Grammy Sandy

    1. Sandra!! Yes Yes! I know you!! It would be so great to meet…who knows where our paths will lead. Yes, it was a lot of work, exhausting, but we left w/such amazing memories and an experience of a lifetime. See you Sunday night, luv! xoxo

  8. Patsy O'Brien says:

    What joy to read your words and see the photos. You are such an inspiration to our generation of Grans! I remember the “sisters” so well.
    Loved “Tiny”…talk about a spitfire. Scared me to death as my principal. Now she knew how to run a school.? Always loved her though.
    Best of luck in all your new endeavors. Keep encouraging us?
    Love and prayers,

    1. Oh, Patsy…I LOVE LOVE reading your words!! Yes, Auntie Tiny was like Grandma Cook, full of piss n’ vinegar. And, you’re so right about the school the ran. She was a master. Hey, I was scared of her, too. Once I was playing hopscotch in the hallway (3rd grader), got sent to the Principal’s office and got a paddling! Geeze, if that was all teachers had to worry about today! So appreciate your support and coming to visit..don’t be a stranger!! Hugs and love xoxoxox

    1. Abbe! Thank you, luv! Yes, it’s hard for me to look in the mirror and see grandma, but, yep, that’s me. I’m so glad that persona is changing b/c there’s a lot of living and life left and the best years are truly the 50s and beyond…I know…I’ve been in those younger years, too…and, believe me, if you have your health, the ‘senior’ years are spectacular!! xoxo Come back and visit soon!! ~ally

    1. Jessica!!! Thank you, luv, for being in my corner and for you sweet kind support!! Rock on to the grannies!! xoxo

  9. Gwen Gobble says:

    Totally in awe of all you’ve accomplished in this reinvention of your life but not in the least surprised.

    1. My dear Gwen…thank you for just coming to read this post and sending me your encouraging support…love you!!! xoxo

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