Last week, Giorgio Rapicavoli found himself in familiar territory as he faced Chopped judges for the third time in the dessert round of the first-ever Chopped Champions. The only difference this time around was that once Ted Allen lifted the silver cloche, Rapicavoli lost.
Diana Sabater, a single mother of two and former police department employee defeated the Eating House chef and owner, winning $50,000 and a brand new car -- the biggest prize in Chopped history. We caught up with Sabater yesterday as she's visiting Miami for the first time and thinking about making this her home.
It's the warm weather that got the chef to come check out the Magic City. That and the growing culinary scene in South Florida. "I am tired of the cold and wanna go someplace where I feel people will respond to my food."
Sabater left the police department after 10 years and winning Chopped the first time around to follow her dreams of cooking. "After being with the department 10 years they let you take early retirement so I took the leap of faith." Since then, she's been doing private chef work with a company based in Brooklyn called Kitchen Surfing. "They have offices all over and I keep asking them what's up with Miami?"
But the chef is looking for a different experience. While on Chopped , she said she would use the winnings to open her own food truck. Now her plans have now changed. "There's a seven-year waiting list to get a food truck in NY. I can't wait seven years."
Instead, the chef wants to get some real kitchen experience to eventually be like the pro she competed against and beat. "Going up against Giorgio was terrifying." Sabater didn't go to culinary school. Her kitchen training comes from her grandma and watching cooking shows all her life. "I heard there was a pro this guy and they kept telling me how good he was and how he was gonna smoke all us."
"The day I met Giorgio, when he walked in, he had his game face on, all serious and ready to take over. I couldn't help but to be so scared of this guy. And then his food is so perfect and beautiful. Everything is so tight and clean and colorful."
Fear pushed Sabater forward and led her to victory as the first ever Chopped Champions winner. Winning has made her realize she needs a drastic change in her life, especially with her two kids all grown up and with full scholarships to college. "It's my time now. I sacrificed so much for them working till midnight shift in police department and barely getting any sleep."
"They don't even know I'm in Miami. I've been here since (last) Sunday and I never want to leave."
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Who knows, perhaps Miami will gain another Chopped champion soon enough.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha