On the cooking competition program “Chopped,” the heat rising from four cooking stations is nothing compared to the conflict that arises during the judging portion of the shows. As harried chefs struggle to prepare creative dishes under the threat of the clock, things are bound to go wrong. And they do. Here, some “Chopped” chefs have shared their tips for crafting a successful meal, either at home or in their restaurants.
This owner of Scarpetta restaurants in Miami and Las Vegas, among many others, is a frequent judge on “Chopped,” but he’s also been on the other side of the chopping block as a contestant. One of his pet peeves is the use of raw red onion in a dish. He advises chefs to avoid the usage, calling the flavor overpowering and “lacking in nuance.”
Chef Tony Maws runs The Kirkland Tap & Trotter and Craigie on Main, two nationally recognize restaurants. He touts the virtues of the Alto-Shaam combi ovens, which he uses to roast, dehydrate, steam and slow cook foods he serves at both eateries.
“The ovens perform to my expectations. They are consistent,” Maws said. “They have a lot of moving parts, but they are practical and they perform well. At the end of the day, that is what they have to do. … To me what separates Alto-Shaam is the people of Alto-Shaam and how responsive they are. It‘s a no-brainer why I stayed with Alto-Shaam.”
Author, executive chef and cooking celebrity Zakarian is all about keeping a clean work station. His tip: Keeping your food prep area clean shows respect for the cooking process and the food itself.
A perennial food show judge and owner of Butter restaurant in New York, Guarnaschelli extolls the virtues of keeping dishes simple and working to build layers of flavor. She doesn’t like to see too many ingredients crammed into a meal, but she loves a depth of flavor that shows dedication from the chef.
These cooking hints from the stars of the Food Network are great basics for creating a delicious and professional dish, no matter where it is prepared.