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Food Fight

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First came ballroom dancing, then ice skating—now celebs get to compete in the kitchen. On NBC’s Celebrity Cooking Showdown, airing April 17-21, nine stars team up with three top chefs: Wolfgang Puck, Cat Cora and Govind Armstrong. The winner of each night’s competition, as judged by event planner Colin Cowie and food critic Gael Greene, will advance to a final cook-off on April 20, the winner to be named on the following night’s show. Here, four of the culinary wannabes offer their recipes for success.

PATTI LABELLE (singer and cookbook author): “I’m known for my cooking, but I’m a little intimidated by this show. I’ll be making upscale soul food. I will not be using any hot sauce, ’cause I don’t know if the judges can take it, and I need to make sure they’re happy. With cooking, you mess up and you keep on going. When I cooked on Oprah, something I was making fell on the floor, but I couldn’t stop, I had to smile, pick it up and keep moving. That’s hard. Singing is much easier!”

ASHLEY PARKER ANGEL (former member of the boy band O-Town): “When it’s time to make dinner, I’m the guy who’s known for calling Domino’s, and now Wolfgang Puck is teaching me how to make pizza. He’s taught me all these great techniques, like how to chop. Sounds simple, but it’s hard. I originally wanted to do the show because I have an album coming out in May [Soundtrack to Your Life], and I wanted to cook for the release party, but now I think I’m just going to cook for fun.”

CINDY MARGOLIS (model, actress and host of her own Internet show): “I’m the woman who could barely boil water. I never cook. My husband, Guy Starkman, owns Jerry’s Deli, so we get all of our meals from there. I’m queen of ordering in! My husband took me to Spago for a pasta dish, and now Wolfgang is teaching me how to cook that meal. Guy always cooks for me, and now this will be my special gift, to do it for him.”

BIG KENNY (half of the country duo Big & Rich): “I grew up on a farm and I’ve always loved fresh vegetables. I’m a red-blooded, all-American big beef eater too. I’m not a chef, but I can actually cook. On one of my first dates with my wife, I made her a special burrito—a love burrito—and I think that impressed her. But when my agent told me about this show, I thought this would be really fun—I like learning a few new tricks from the masters.”