Earlier this month, I was invited to an event where the host and celebrity chef judges of Chopped Canada put members of the media through their culinary paces in a Chopped mini-challenge. I literally had the chance to walk in a chef's clogs and learn first-hand what it’s like to compete as a Chopped Canada contestant. The participants were paired and asked to cook and plate perfectly identical appetizers for each of the judges in 30 minutes. First realization of the event: the real Chopped Canada chefs don’t have it that easy – they are on their own and they have to cook three courses, not just one.
The clock starts. My partner, Emily Richards, and I open our mystery basket of ingredients. We pull out a beef tenderloin, grapefruit, aged Canadian cheddar and candy sprinkles. We first panic, but then quickly decide what to do and run off in opposite directions gathering ingredients from the pantry. The candy sprinkles go into an Indian-style spice mix that I use to crust the beef tenderloin that is then seared in a hot, hot pan. Emily makes a salad of gourmet greens, grapefruit and shaved fennel bulb. Tuiles are made out of the cheddar cheese and decorated with fresh herbs and candy sprinkles. With seven minutes to go, the beef is sliced and plated first, topped with the greens and a cheddar cheese tuile. Our dish looks gorgeous, but now the judges have their say.
It is just as nerve-wracking standing in front of the judges as it is to do the actual cooking. They liked the dish a lot, but we did get chopped in the end. It didn't matter; we rose to the challenge! Adrenaline can do amazing things for creativity when faced with what seems like an impossible challenge. I can’t wait to see how the real contestants use their skills, food knowledge and adrenaline in the Chopped Canada kitchen.
Chopped Canada premieres January 2 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Visit www.foodnetwork.ca/choppedcanada to find out more about the show.
Ania Krysa is a web producer for Food Network Canada.
Posted: Tue, Dec 17 2013
by Ania Krysa