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Interview with Aleithea Ellis ‘Frankenfood’ competitor loves her history

Frankenfood Contestant Aleithea Ellis
Frankenfood Contestant Aleithea Ellis
Courtesy of Aleithea Ellis

On the “Frankenfood” episode titled “A Sampling of the Second City,” on Spike, one competitor, Aleithea Ellis was a semi-finalist. She presented her concoction; Herhemmings Sandwich. It was made with; red-white & blue cornbread, bacon, turkey tails, mac & cheese, catfish fillet and collard green salad.

Chef Josh Capon went to the North Side of Chicago with the sandwich king, Tony Luke Jr., where they met hundreds of cooks who hoped to have their creation featured at Rockit Bar and Grill. The $10,000 prize was not too shabby either!

Each contestant offered their food creation to Josh, Tony and guest judge, Billy Dec, owner of Rockit Bar and Grill. The final two were served at Rockit Bar and Grill where the public decided the winner and whose food is featured on the menu in time for the tenth anniversary of the multi-award winning bar and grill.

The last competitor was Aleithea Ellis, a stay-at-home-mom, who presented her concoction; “Herhemings Sandwich.” It was made with; red-white & blue cornbread, bacon, turkey tails, mac & cheese, catfish fillet and collard green salad. Aleithea’s creation was sent to the semi-finals, but did not make it to the finals.

Examiner: Were you always a good cook, Aleithea?

Thanks for your interest. When I was a little girl. I remembered my mom, grandmother and my aunt always cooked the best soul food, and fortunately, they taught me plenty, and I followed in their tradition.

Examiner: But where did the name for the sandwich come from?

I wanted to go a little deeper and not only tie in our family roots. I wanted to read more about the original soul food tradition where I discovered Chef Hercules who was personal chef to President George Washington and then I discovered Chef James Hemmings who was not only personal chef to President Thomas Jefferson but in fact, he was the son of Jefferson’s father-in-law and sister of Betty Hemmings. This discovery intrigued me to read more and more about Black History.

Examiner: Tell me a little about your family, please.

My three children are Stacy Ascha, 14, Stacy Antonio, 12 and Dante Yorel, 5, and I am currently taking care of my older children's sister Patricia, 17 and yes both names are the same and our cat and dog complete our immediate family. My children love to cook in the kitchen with me. We practice for our own family cooking show each time we cook. My daughter Ascha is responsible for hosting a dinner party once a week. My middle child Tony loves to cook me breakfast and he's the fix-it man of the house. He suffers from ADHD, when we pray at night, we ask god to guide us through any challenges we may face. Dante, my little prince always keeps a smile on my face. We watch the Frankenfood episode; that's all he wants to watch; his mom is all he wants to see. After he watches it, he always tells me I’m his favorite chef. Patricia is a six-foot beautiful young lady, a beautiful person with a beautiful soul.

Examiner: Aleithea, have you always lived in Chicago?

Chicago is my home, I was born here and raised on the south side of Chicago, where I currently reside. My grandmother and grandfather were business owners who ran liquor stores and restaurants, so it’s in my blood.

Examiner: Who was your biggest inspiration growing up?

My mother was a very special person; she was in a extremely tragic car accident when I was 8, and this left her paralyzed from the neck down. They told my mom that she would never walk again, and she fooled them all. In my younger days, we had it very hard. Some days, we had no food but my mom never gave up and I have her determination.

Examiner: What are your plans for the future?

Because I did not win the $10,000 prize on Frankenfood, my hope to have a food truck is still alive. I have two angels watching over me, my mom and my dear friend, the late Chef Joshua Marks, two people who always believed in me. So right now, I have a “GoFundMe” page to help raise enough money to purchase a used food truck.

Examiner: Thanks very much for the interview, I totally wish you luck!

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