(video of intro)
The episode of “Chopped” I appear in has finally aired on the Food Network so five months of bottled up secrets surrounding my experience on the show can finally be revealed. It was an amazing adventure even though I lost. No one should feel sorry for me either. I’ve received tons of supportive emails telling me that the Food Network made a huge mistake by chopping me, etc. I am at peace with it though and I have to say I am still happy I tried to go out of the box. Unfortunately my ambitions got the best of me, but hey can you blame someone for being ambitious. I care a lot about my cooking and about bringing people tasty vegetarian food and luckily I still was able to do that.
WHY I LOST
clips of me on the show:
Not to make excuses, but one thing that hurt me was the change in how much time we were given. Going in we were told we’d have 30 minutes to make an appetizer. Then just before taping they told us that they wanted to do a twist on our episode so now they were going to just give us 20 minutes. Wow that extra 10 minutes would have made a world of difference. I am a very fast Chef. In Culinary School I was often the first done, but for some reason I thought I was Superwoman here. There’s no way anyone can make three different things in 20 minutes. Trust me, as you can see, I tried. Actually I did make three things in 20 minutes. I just couldn’t put them all together in the way I wish I would have. Another thing that hurt me was over preparing. I tried to think about all the different scenarios they could throw at us and how I’d respond. I always, in my head, prepared to use the mystery ingredients as a small element in the dish because I assumed they were going to give me meat to cook and since I’m a vegetarian I didn’t want that to be the center of the dish. So to be honest when I saw the mystery ingredients I instantly thought “ok what OTHER vegetarian ingredients can I use to make this creative?” I knew right off the bat I wanted the chirizo to be a small element, not a centerpiece. I also wanted to make sure to use ingredients that would include lots of protein and iron, etc. That’s why beans came to my mind. People often think vegetarian food doesn’t have all the vitamins and minerals you need, so I wanted to make sure the dish was balanced. I just wish there was extra credit for that! Another thing going against you in that kitchen is you don’t know where things are. I could only find one blender so I had to clean it out after I made each component of the appetizer. This obviously burned time. I also washed each of my ingredients (I’m not sure if my competitors did or not). I even rinsed the beans so they’d be easier to digest. Yeah I know the judges didn’t know, but I didn’t want to serve them something other than the best. If they read this now trust me they will appreciate that. I also wasted a lot of time cutting up several peppers thinking I could make this wonderful coulis (sauce) to drizzle over the dish. I never had the time to finish it
HIND SIGHT IS 20/20
Looking back could I have just cooked up each ingredient like the others did and put them on a plate? Sure. I could have done a simple salad and used the peaches in the dressing. How easy would that have been.? I’m sure it would have been enough to get me to round two. I just felt people would have said “oh she played it safe”. I didn’t want play it safe though because people have a perception that all vegetarian food is bland and safe. I wanted a very flavorful dish. I must say too the judges didn’t have one bad thing to say about the flavor of my dish (and to me flavor is the most important thing). My fatal flaw was not incorporating the peaches. That was a deal breaker as far as the show. The rules are the rules and the rules said I couldn’t get moved onto the next round. The other big flaw was obviously presentation. I wasn’t happy at all about how it was presented, but it was done in such a rush. Alex Guarnaschelli (one of the judges) said it would have been better if I served it with some toasted bread. She was absolutely right. A little baguette would have made it such a better dish and would have helped with presentation.
A FRIENDLY CAST & CREW
After I was voted off the show Alex asked the producers for permission to talk to me. I’m so glad they let her because she had such kind words for me. She basically said to keep my chin up and that she didn’t finish cooking her meal in her first food challenge on the Food Network. She also said they really did like the flavor of my dish, but they were told that if you didn’t use one of the mystery ingredients you were automatically out. Everyone on the show from the judges to my fellow contestants to the crew were beyond nice. On other episodes of Chopped there always seems to be one annoying person, but on my episode everyone was really likeable. While I think all of us who participated are winners I am happy Chris won. Seeing a man who boxes cry makes you understand how much winning means to him. I hope to get another chance cooking on national TV soon. When I do trust me I learned a lot from this experience. Watch out America next time I’m going to kick some major butt!!!