Erica Beneke, a native of Austin, Texas, won the newest episode of Chopped that premiered on the Food Network Sunday evening. The episode centered on all things fried, and Beneke used her Austin roots to showcase her expert frying skills and come out at the top of the pack.
Beneke, the executive chef at Max’s Wine Dive, seemed confident in her culinary abilities. Due to her exposure to the cooking world at such a young age, she rose to the executive chef position at only 24. While she was satisfied with her current career accomplishments, she felt Austin limited her culinary techniques.
Beneke used her confidence to dominate the competition with some savory dishes. For the appetizer, she used the mystery ingredients to make coriander-crusted catfish with fried plantains with apple and cilantro seasoning. While she wasn’t chopped after the first round, the judges noted her dishes lacked seasoning. Beneke created a fried capon wing entrée, complimented with roasted potatoes and halumi cheese mixed with blueberries, paprika and chiles. The judges commended her on the wings, but felt the blueberries didn’t mix well with the cheese. Beneke finished the night off with fried pizza dough empanadas, filled with Oreos and strawberries.
With the $10,000 prize money, Beneke will use the money to travel the world to get exposure to other cuisines and culinary skills to add to her specialty dishes.