- Copyright 2013, Taji Marie Hugley. All rights reserved.
- Header designed by Somsara Rielly.
In 2013 I had opportunity to compete in the CHOPPED kitchen on Food Network and (spoiler alert!!), I managed to cook my way through all three mystery baskets and win!!
My episode (cleverly named, “Without Missing a Beet”) featured all female chefs and was affectionately called “Ladies Night” on set during our day of shooting. I was thrilled to compete with a group of tough kitchen-women. In between the moments of fierce competition, we maintained a steady flow of joking and laughter throughout the 14-hour day. And I am so grateful for that. Had there been only one annoying, pig-headed, full-of-themselves person in the bunch it would have been an even longer day. Some people will say we were all nice because we are a bunch of women. Those people have clearly not worked with female chefs before — we are a breed all our own — strong, forthright, focused and competitive. The “nice” part didn’t come from our gender — it came from us being decent people, grateful for the opportunity we were given and determined to have fun in this once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity.
In case you haven’t seen it, I won’t ruin the episode for you with too many details. But here are a few answers to the questions I get asked most often:
1. Yes, we really did only have the time on the clock to cook. And no, we did not have any idea what was in the basket before we opened it up.
2. The first time we saw the kitchen was about 30 minutes before the first round. We got a quick tour of the kitchen so that we understood the lay of the land. The rest was up to us….
3. The judges are not all jerks. Even the ones who seem like they are jerks. The truth is that their critiques last for about 15 minutes each so we actually get a lot of really good, honest feedback from them. I was grateful for this and used the feedback to do better each round.
4. Ted Allen is a really nice guy — just as lovely and charming as you would expect.
5. No we don’t get to eat the food. We can taste our dish while we’re cooking but do not get to eat the finished dish nor do we get to taste our competitor’s food. We have to plate four servings of each dish — one for each of the judges and one for the “beauty shots.”
You can stream the full episode here. Take a watch and let me know what you think. What would you have made with those ingredients??