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Local football players showdown on Food Network show

Medford's Molly Winsten, left, and Salem's Erin Truex, right, players for the Boston Renegades, were on Food Network's NFL Tailgate Takedown as the only all-female team. (Libby O'Neill)

Boston Renegades football players Erin Truex and Molly Winsten are used to a showdown on the gridiron, but they also know how to tackle a tailgate.


Truex and Winsten play football for the Boston Renegades, the national champions of women’s football, but on January 25 at 9 p.m, the duo will appear in another brawl: Food Network’s NFL Tailgate Takedown. The show pits two pairs against each other, each representing their local NFL team, in a three-round clash of tailgating food challenges. The winners win a trophy and tickets to see the game from the 50-yard line. The only all-female team, Truex and Winsten represented the New England Patriots against a pair representing the Chicago Bears. 


Truex, who plays on the offensive line, said that the pair wanted to tell the story of breakfast, lunch, and dinner over the three rounds of competition. First, they served breakfast sausage deep fried in pancake batter with spicy maple sauce and a bloody mary. In the second round, they made a lobster roll and a color-changing gin and tonic. In the final round, they made a platter of locally-inspired bites which included fried clams, apple slaw, and cider.


Winsten, who was raised in Swampscott and spent time during college living in Marblehead, has appeared on the Food Network previously. She says she got into cooking after being diagnosed with food allergies. Because of these diagnoses, she strives to be a “food inclusive” chef. At her donut factory in Woburn, she produces upwards of 20,000 mini donuts and 6-7,000 donuts– all kosher and gluten-, soy-, nut-, and dairy-free.


But it is not just about competition for Truex and Winsten.


 “We really wanted to have some kind of charitable component to it,” said Truex. “It was a really great experience and we want to give back to the community. The food pantry does so many wonderful things. So we thought, why don’t we cook the food that we prepared?”


They sold tickets for a watch party at Deacon Giles Distillery in Salem, which sold out in 24 hours. 100 percent of the proceeds from the ticket sales are going to the Salem Pantry. Truex encouraged anyone who wanted to attend the watch party but did not get a ticket to donate to the Salem Pantry.

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