Chef Daniel Gomez Sanchez Represents the Bay Area as Runner-Up for Food Network’s 'Chopped'

La Toque's chef de cuisine brought his A-game to Chopped Grill Masters Napa

Chopped Grill Master's season three featured the nation’s top grillers and chefs competing for a chance to win $50,000.

Chef Daniel Gomez Sanchez, chef de cuisine at Michelin-starred La Toque restaurant located in The Westin Verasa Napa, appeared as a contestant on one of Food Network’s most popular shows — Chopped for the Grill Masters Napa Edition.

Chopped Grill Masters Napa was entirely filmed in Wine Country and featured 16 contestants over a four part series. Each episode’s winner took home $10,000 leading it up to the finale for a chance to battle it out for the ultimate grand prize of $50,000.

La Toque chef de cuisine Daniel Gomez Sanchez is the newest runner-up on Chopped as he battled it out on Food Network’s Chopped Grill Masters Napa!

Over 1.3 million people watched Daniel beat the competition in which he won $10,000. Daniel cooked the three rounds over an open flame for judges Marc Murphy, Brian Bruns, Amanda Freitag, and John Koch.

Chef Daniel astonished them with his tender abalone dish in the appetizer round. He then proceeded to impress with his fine-dining approach to the natural cut rib-eye in the entrée round slicing the steak and presenting it alongside an eggplant side dish. Lastly, Daniel presented a creative dish featuring chocolate trifle, poached pears, bacon and pistachios that put him over the edge on the competition.

The Daily Meal had the opportunity to chat with chef Daniel post-Chopped mayhem!

The Daily Meal: What was your immediate reaction when you officially learned you would compete on Food Network’s Chopped?
I was really excited. In general, I love unique experiences and actively seek out new challenges. I embraced the opportunity to prove that I am an elite cook to a national audience.

How do you feel about your performance on the show?
My goals going in were to enjoy the experience and do the best I could. I feel great about my performance and am glad I was there competing all the way to the end. I stand behind what I cooked and absolutely refuse to second guess myself or the judges. I do wish I had won the whole thing though…

Where did you get your inspiration for your dishes?
All the dishes were inspired by a combination of the ingredients in the basket and food that I have cooked in the past. I did my best to make good decisions based on the time and situational constraints so that I could put up a delicious product.

What triggered your love for food and cooking?
It was really early on in life. I’ve always loved food. I also enjoy the act of using my hands to make something. As a child something just clicked for me when I realized that I could take stuff out of the pantry and fridge then transform it into something I wanted to eat.

What’s your favorite and least favorite part about cooking?
My favorite part of cooking is the transcendent effect good food has on the person eating it.

My least favorite is the business realities that make it so hard to make a living doing it. This is true especially when you are just starting out and are lucky to be making $12 an hour.

What are your hopes for your culinary career?
I eventually want to be a restaurateur and be able to pay my kids way through college so they can enter adulthood  ahead of the curve without debt.

If you had the opportunity to collaborate with any chef to create new dishes, who would it be and why?
Mathias Merges and Daniel Guisti. They are a couple of great chefs I have worked with in the past who are doing a lot of work to improve school lunches and prison meals. I believe that as a society we need a fundamental change in the way we eat.

La Toque is Ken Frank's premiere Napa Valley restaurant and proud recipient of an acclaimed Michelin Star. It is located in The Westin Verasa Napa. Frank creates his menu of contemporary French cuisine utilizing the region’s abundance of seasonal, fresh produce and organic meats sourced from a network of local farmers and purveyors.

A recipient of Wine Spectator’s esteemed Grand Award, the wine program at La Toque is unlike any other in the Napa Valley.  Overseen by Wine Director Richard Matuszczak, the wine list features more than 2,200 bottle and by-the-glass selections from renowned wine regions all over the world.

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