Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Chopped Challenge Round One

We have so many ideas for challenges, we actually wish we had more time and blog space to accomplish it all. We’re a very creative group. We were discussing what to do one day and one of our members, Linda Mire, said, “I want to do a Chopped Challenge.”


And so here we are, with the first two out of four rounds of our new Chopped Challenge.

Read on for an informative interview with our sponsor and fellow 37 cook member, Linda Mire.

But first, take a look at the baskets our cooks had to deal with!

Round One:
Appetizer Basket: 
 Spam (or a reasonable substitute like Taylor Ham or Ham Roll)
Shiitake mushrooms 
Flour or Rice
Sesame Oil

Main Dish Basket: 

Dessert Basket: 
Sweetheart Valentine Candies 
Wickles or Bread & Butter Pickles 
a Donut

Round Two:
Appetizer Basket:
Theme: Chinese New Year - Mardis Gras Celebration
Wonton Wrappers
Bean Sprouts
Cajun Seasoning
Bonus Item (optional): Muffaletta Olive Spread

Main Dish Basket:
Theme: Italian Chuckwagon
Cowboy Style Pinto Beans
Angel Hair Pasta
Bonus Item (optional): Peperoncini Sotto Aceto

Dessert Basket:
Theme: Paula Deen and Thomas Keller
Banana Pudding
Pastry Cream
Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Bonus Item (optional): Bouchons au Chocolate

1. Linda, how did you come up with this idea to do a Chopped Challenge?

I love Chopped and have watched it from the beginning. I knew a few of our other cooks also loved it, especially Dawn Harmon. I thought it would be fun and challenging for our Cooks.

2. What was the most challenging aspect of coming up with the baskets?

When I started, I didn't look at it as a challenge because I was going to rely on our Cooks and let them tell me what the baskets should be. Unfortunately, I didn't get a lot of response and many of the ones I got were too easy. I will say that Dawn Harmon came up with a great Main Dish Basket which was in true spirit of "Chopped". I asked Woo Brower to add things that would go with Kimchi for the Appetizer Basket, and it went beyond the four ingredients. I kept all of her suggestions because I thought it might be helpful (time will tell). The dessert basket was my idea completely, and it was very tough. Anchovies for dessert? My fellow cooks may never forgive me for that one. For Round Two, I decided to quit worrying so much and depend completely on my own instincts. It also helped to choose a theme. The primary basket is a little easier, but I've thrown in some bonus items that will make them more difficult for our brave cooks.

3. Were you ever concerned that the 37 Cooks would all quit? The Round One baskets are TOUGH!

Yes, I was worried that some would drop out because the baskets were pretty crazy. However, I have a whole new respect for those who dove right in and were fearless.

4. We've heard there will be a total of 4 Chopped Challenge rounds, and that you will be allowing the 37 Cooks' fans to join in the last round. The fans could include anyone. Do you think the 37 Cooks are worried their fans might show them up?

I'm actually very excited about the fan interaction. We have a great group of followers and I'm sure many are outstanding cooks. I'm never afraid of seeing someone do a better job than I could. It inspires me to keep working harder in developing my own skills. I also think it will take us to another level on our Facebook page. Is there a better way to get to know people than through the food they cook?!

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