For Food Network fans, Tuesday nights are devoted to Ted Allen, four competing chefs and the bizarre combinations of “mystery” ingredients found on Chopped (pretzel sticks, emu eggs and canned peaches, anyone?). Launched in 2009, the show pits four chefs against each other for a chance to win $10,000. Chefs have three 20-minute rounds to create a dish that incorporates specific, unusual ingredients, before being judged on creativity, taste and presentation.
You might not realize that the chefs behind some of your favorite local restaurants have been put to the Chopped test. Here's a list where you can find these Food Network stars around the city – and a few notes on how they survived the chopping block. ]
Brandon Boudet – 101 Coffee Shop, Dominick's, Little Dom's, Tom Bergin's Tavern
Brandon Boudet became a Chopped champion in the Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner episode, winning the judges over with his caramelized bacon pancakes and prune molasses syrup. His advice for cooking? “Dont be afraid to use salt and lemon in everything,” Boudet told thekitchn.com. You can try Boudet's recipes at 101 Coffee Shop, Dominick's in West Hollywood, Little Dom's in Los Feliz, and his renovated Tom Bergin's Tavern. 101 Coffee Shop, 6145 Franklin Ave., Hollywood, (323) 467-1175; Dominick's, 8715 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 652-2335; 2128 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, (323) 661-0055; Tom Bergin's Tavern, 840 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 936-7151.
Cole Dickinson – Ink
Chef de cuisine at Michael Voltaggio's Ink and one of the winners of Chopped season 16, Cole Dickinson was voted one of Zagat's 30 Under 30 of 2013. His ingenuity came through in the dessert round with his dehydrated chocolate covered strawberries, hemp milk, mango and mochi creation. “[Judge] Scott Conant wiped my dessert plate clean. That's when I knew I won,” Dickinson said. Find Dickinson at Ink, the edgy small-plate eatery on Melrose, which GQ dubbed the Best New Restaurant in America. Ink, 8360 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 651-5866.
Michael Israel – MOE Better Deli Food Truck
Chef Michael Israel, a kosher chef, is remembered for successfully substituting crushed ginger snaps for matzo meal in his matzo ball soup in season 17. Looked for his Chopped-worthy food truck, M.O.E. Better Deli, around L.A. (we hear the pastrami eggroll is worth a try). M.O.E. Better Deli, various locations.
Bruce Kalman – Union
Chef Bruce Kalman is a season 15 winner of Chopped. “Chopped was one of the toughest experiences I have faced in my career … You don't find out anything in advance, you don't know your competition, and you need to adapt quickly to the surroundings,” Kalman said in an interview. Formerly associated with the kitchens of The Misfit, The Churchill, and the now-closed Urbano Pizza, Kalman recently launched one of L.A.'s newest Italian joints – Union – which opened its doors last month. 37 E. Union St., Pasadena, (626) 795-5841.
See also: Now Open: Bruce Kalman's Union in Pasadena
Alex Moreno – Border Grill
Border Grill's executive chef Alex Moreno won the Tapas Time episode, a tapas-themed cook-off. Combining ingredients like Spanish tortillas, serrano ham, chayote and squid, Moreno took home a Chopped title in season 18, adding to Border Grill's star-studded pedigree (Border Grill co-owners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger are Food Network veterans). Border Grill, 445 S. Figueroa St, Los Angeles; (213) 486-5171.
Jeffrey Saad – La Ventura
Jeffrey Saad may have come in second place on Chopped All-Stars, but that certainly wasn't his first, or last, TV appearance. For three years running he's hosted the Cooking Channel's United Tastes of America, and he was a first runner-up finalist on season 5 of The Next Food Network Star. His recent off-screen venture, a Mexican spot called La Ventura, opened mid-Decemeber in Studio City. La Ventura, 11929 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 358-3423.
Katsuji Tanabe – MexiKosher
Katsuji Tanabe was an audience favorite in season 16 of Chopped, taking home a win with his sesame seed cajeta and cantaloupe cucumber sherbet. You can find him manning the kitchen at MexiKosher – the only kosher Mexican restaurant in L.A. “99 percent of Mexican restaurants aren't kosher,” is their motto. “We are the 1 percent. Occupy Mexikosher.” MexiKosher, 8832 W Pico Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 271-0900.
D. Brandon Walker – Bread and Roses Cafe
Season 17 of Chopped aired a special Hero Chefs episode that featured chefs who use their culinary talents to serve their communities. One of these chefs was D. Brandon Walker, head of the culinary training program at the St. Joseph Center, and a chef at the center's Bread and Roses Cafe, which provides meals to those in need. Walker beat out the other contestants with his barbecue sauce, chicken soup, pattypan squash and ground pork concoction, earning the title of Chopped champion. “It's an absolute surprise what's in the mystery basket,” Walker told the Santa Monica Daily Press. “It's a long, grueling day, 16 hours in the studio.” Bread and Roses Cafe, 204 Hampton Dr., Venice; (310) 396-6468.
Joe Wetherbee – Joe's Café
Joe Wetherbee, chef and co-owner of Joe's Cafe, recently joined the ranks of Chopped champions last month, beating out fellow San Fernando Valley chef Rose Mary Kai of Fresh Potato Factory. “It was my first competition. It was my first time being with cameras. I felt the pressure,” Wetherbee told Los Angeles Daily News. You can find Wetherbee serving up stuffed French toast and pulled pork sandwiches at Joe's Cafe in Granda Hills. Joe's Cafe, 17815 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills; (818) 488-9841.