Have you ever watched Food Network’s hit television series Chopped and wondered just how good the food actually tasted? Well, Saturday night’s New York City Wine and Food Festival event, “Rooftop Chopped,” gave a few hundred people the chance to be the judges. As the crowd gathered atop New York City’s Pier 92, 30 of New York’s finest chefs competed to become the first Rooftop Chopped Champion — and to walk away with a check for $10,000.
Each guest was given a coin enabling them to cast a vote for his/her personal favorite dish — the winner of which was given an all-expenses paid trip to the next Wine and Food Festival in Miami. The judges panel — which comprised Marcus Samuelsson, Scott Conant, Geoffrey Zakarian, Alex Guarnaschelli, Aarón Sanchéz, Chris Santos, Amanda Freitag, Marc Murphy, and, of course, Ted Allen — ultimately decided the champion.
The competition was fierce, with each chef submitting a dish in one of three categories: appetizer, entrée, or dessert. Guests were able to watch as the judges tasted and scored each of the 30 dishes. My personal favorites were Hail Mary’s hot fried chicken sandwich with smoked maple syrup; Witcher Dining’s hamachi ceviche with tiger milk; and Dirt’s orange-scented chocolate pound cake with tahini crème fraîche, caramelized butternut squash, and brown butter sesame brittle. But maybe the coolest aspect of the night was that attendees were able to audition live for a spot on a coming episode of Chopped.
As the evening came to an end, Chopped host Ted Allen thanked the crowd for supporting the Food Bank For New York City and No Kid Hungry. The winners were then announced: The Ainsworth won the People’s Choice Award for their Honey-Glazed Berkshire Pork, and the Black Ant won the Judges’ Choice Award for its pressed suckling pig taco with burnt chile and grass hopper mole.