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Netflix turns leftovers into game

  • NETFLIX / AP
                                Jonathan Kim, left, Alexandra Jones and Melissa Schwimmer compete in Netflix’s new game show “Best Leftovers Ever!”

    NETFLIX / AP

    Jonathan Kim, left, Alexandra Jones and Melissa Schwimmer compete in Netflix’s new game show “Best Leftovers Ever!”

Just in time for anyone facing a heaving, post-holiday refrigerator comes a TV show about what to do with all those dubious leftovers.

On each episode of the food game show “Best Leftovers Ever!” on Netflix, three skilled cooks make new dishes out of already-made dishes, hoping to walk away with $10,000.

“People think leftovers is just reheating your food. It’s not just reheating your food. Get creative with it. You could always create new and better things with it later,” said comedian David So, one of the judges.

The show debuted Dec. 30, with eight episodes available for viewing.

In the first, contestants are given healthy leftovers — veggie salad, cauliflower rice, pork tenderloin with beets and avocado with cottage cheese — and are asked to turn them into comfort food in 30 minutes. They have access to a pantry and kitchen staples.

One contestant turned to Indian flavors, making a pork curry with fritters. Another went for Greek, making a beet- and pork-stuffed pastry called a tiropita. The third made a tostada with glazed pepper jelly pork.

In the second round, the Takeout Takedown, contestants must make new dishes from restaurant leftovers in only an hour. One took chicken fingers and fries and made a potato gnocchi. Another turned old burgers and fries into pierogies.

In later episodes contestants turn football-watching party food — bean dip, sliders and raw veggies — into beef stroganoff or tacos, and turn leftover barbecue into lasagna or dumplings.

“If the audience can walk away and go back to their fridge and say, ‘Hey, I’m not going to throw this away, I’m actually going to make something amazing out of it,’ then we did our job,” said So.

The show’s host is actress-musician Jackie Tohn, who starred in the TV series “GLOW” and is a self-described “leftover queen.” Tohn said the show arrives at an ideal time, when many viewers have been ordering more takeout due to the pandemic.

“We can’t go to restaurants and all we can do is order in. And then if you get that Chinese food and you don’t want it to be Chinese food on night two, we’re giving you a bunch of tips and tricks to make that possible.”

Tohn and So are joined by a second judge, British chef and TV personality Rosemary Shrager. The three have a slightly absurdist vibe, tossing cheeseballs into each others’ mouths while contestants cook, or imitating Julia Child’s high-pitched modulations.

So and Tohn both grew up in households where little food was wasted. Tohn’s grandmother used to keep bones for marrow: “Nothing ever got thrown away. I mean, we ate leftovers until the very end.”

And So had leftovers all week: “My mom would always make a big meal on the weekend and then I would have to be creative and then make good food on the weekdays with it.”

He laughs that even chefs who stress fresh ingredients might send out leftovers, like arancini, usually just yesterday’s risotto, rolled into balls and deep-fried. “I don’t think we understand a lot of our favorite foods are honestly repurposed foods.”

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