Two Jersey Shore Chefs Compete on Food Network’s Chopped
If you're planning to watch the full episode, take note, **SPOILERS BELOW!**
If you've never seen it, the show starts with four competitors, who in the first round must create an appetizer in 20 minutes including the four mystery ingredients in their Chopped basket. (Last night's first round ingredients were tortellini, goat milk caramel, bottarga, and radishes.)
At the end of the first round, judges taste each dish and decide which chef will be chopped, while the remaining contestants move on to the entree round. With that comes a new basket and mystery ingredients, when someone will be chopped again before the dessert round.
The winner gets the title of Chopped Champion and that sweet cash prize!
Lauren Van Liew, owner of Chef Covas Catering in Red Bank and Chef Laercio "Junior" Chamon, chef/owner of Zoe Bistro in Little Silver were among the four chefs featured on the "Tortellini Trials" episode.
They showed why the Jersey Shore food scene is so awesome by both making it to the final dessert round!
The dessert basket ingredients seemed especially challenging: olive oil tortas (a sweet wafer cookie made from olive oil), rambutan (a tropical fruit), coconut milk, and lime pickle (a spicy, salty Indian condiment made from pickling and fermenting limes with chiles.)
Understandably, the chefs described the lime pickle as 'horrible' and 'disgusting.' That's the brilliance of the competition - these chefs can take an ingredient that they've never worked with or that most people wouldn't enjoy, and use it to make a delicious dish.
Both chefs got right to work - Chef Van Liew started on an apple and rambutan napoleon with a pickled lime creme anglaise, while Chef Chamon chose to do a coconut lime pickle ice cream and empanadas.
**Major spoilers coming!**
Chef Chamon had a little trouble with his empanada filling, and as the clock continued ticking away, even the judges started to get nervous about the little amount of time he had left to actually cook them. To his credit, he seemed to work especially well under pressure and got it all done!
Chef Van Liew noted how ambitious Chef Chamon's dish was and questioned her own dessert and lack of creativity. (Though let's be serious, anyone who can make ANY kind of dessert with those ingredients must be pretty creative!)
The judges liked Chef Chamon's ice cream, but thought the empanadas were a little underfilled and undercooked. They liked Chef Van Liew's use of the lime pickle and praised the creme anglaise, but thought her puff pastry dough was undercooked.
In the end, the judges could only pick one winner based on their performance on all three rounds, and that was Chef Van Liew, who said, "I feel great...don't have other words, it's just an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and I feel amazing. I'm a Chopped Champion and I feel like I could take on the world right now."
Way to go, Chef!
The episode airs again on Thursday, May 19th at 9p on Food Network.
Watch the full episode: