Rooftop Chopped #NYCWFF2016
By Chef Paula Gottlieb Herman
Since 2013, Chef Paula eagerly looks forward to working at the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival, held at Piers 92 and 94 in Manhattan. For the last 3 years, we experienced different events including “Burger Bash,” “Grand Tasting,” and “Giada’s Italian Feast.”
This time, on October 15th, we had the privilege to be Sous Chefs for Chef Jonathan Scinto’s Private Parties & Events, at a brand new event for the festival called “Rooftop Chopped.” All 9 judges from “Chopped” plus TV host, Ted Allen, were on hand to judge appetizers, entrees, and desserts, and award one talented chef a chopping block statue, a $10,000 check, and bragging rights. Guests who paid $215 each to experience 30 different chef offerings also got to weigh in their vote for People’s Choice. As an added bonus, some guests who had the interest in trying out for “Chopped,” could do a live audition for show producers and casting staff that evening.
Chef Jonathan knew he had some stiff competition, but he brought his A-game with his entrée – Itasian Meatloaf Ball” with Hoisin Horseradish Cream Sauce- Balsamic Fig Glaze-Ginger Garlic Mashed Reds and Savory Crispy Bliss Skin. His team consisted of his amazing wife, AnnMarie who helped with the grill and serving & plating, Chef Hiram Quintana of The Lion’s Den Catering & Solutions who created the most glorious plating for judges and VIP’s, and brought along beautiful quartz serving stations & quartz tea lights for added bling, my multimedia partner and husband, Michael Herman, who worked the mashed potato piping bag as well as his cameras, and myself manning the grill for 3 solid hours with wind, smoke, and the thrill of $10,000 dancing in front of my eyes.
One of the highlights of my night was getting to chat with “Chopped” host, Ted Allen, right before the judging was to be announced. We had finished our service, the ballots were taken to be counted, I headed over to the judge’s area, and saw him outside taking “selfies” with guests, and I waited for my turn to speak with him. He looked up and smiled at me, and commented, “Hello, Chef Paula. Your name is Chef Paula judging by the name on your chef hat, or do you have an egotistical boss who made you wear her name on your hat?” We had some more playful banter, especially when I asked, “Can you smell the smoke on me from the grill?” He took a sniff and confirmed I smelled of smoke. This now made him curious to know which chef station I was working at. When I told him I was with Chef Jonathan, he said, “I really took note of their plating. I hadn’t expected the plating to be that much of a priority, and really appreciated the effort that went into it.” We chatted a little more about how to judge appetizers, entrées, and desserts against each other. He said, “I judged them all on their own execution.” Click here to see me telling Chef Hiram Quintana what TV host Ted Allen had to say about his plating.
After saying goodbye to Ted Allen, the judges were soon called to the stage, and the announcements were made that they chose Chef Mario Hernandez of Black Ant for their Pressed Suckling Pig with Burnt Chile Grasshopper Mole, Crispy Corn Dumplings, Chayote and Pickled Chiles. The People had spoken also, and they chose Chef Stephen Yen of The Ainsworth for their Honey Glazed Pork with Spice-Roasted Pineapple & Quinoa.
While #TeamScinto didn’t win this time, the chance to compete at this newly launched “Rooftop Chopped” event, to be there for our friends and colleagues, pulling together and adapting to any situation thrown at us, we walked away winners, too!