Remember two years ago when chef Giorgio Rapicavoli competed on Chopped and became the first Miami chef to win? The $10,000 gave Rapicavoli the chance to pop up Eating House, which has become a staple of Miami's dining and brunch scene.
Well, tonight the chef is making his way back to the show that kicked things off -- sort of. Tune in to the Food Network at 10 p.m. for the first Chopped Ultimate Champions tournament.
This all-new twist on the popular cooking show invites Chopped winners back to the line of fire for a battle that's made up of four rounds -- pros, amateur champs, heroes, and celebrities. Rapicavoli will compete in the first round tonight -- Ultimate Champions Pros.
The winners from each battle will move on to the Ultimate Champions Grand Finale, which will air Tuesday, September 23, at 10 p.m. In it, they'll duke it out for a grand prize of a new car and $50,000 (the biggest prize in Chopped history). Will Rapicavoli make history once again as the first Miami chef to win Chopped Champions and walk away with 50 grand?
Watch tonight as the chef battles in the kitchen against three other top toques, including Jean Georges New York's sous-chef Tom McKenna, Fatima Ali, and Lauren Kyles. From the little that Food Network has disclosed, we know there will be eels and a supersalty veggie involved for the appetizer. There will also be some sort of bird and soda for the entrée, and a peculiar cheese and "creepy" chocolate in the dessert round.
We asked Rapicavoli a few questions, specifically about the creepy chocolate and how he plans on representing his hometown this time around.
New Times: How did Food Network approach you for this inaugural installment of Chopped Champions?
Giorgio Rapicavoli: They have been asking me to go back for Chopped Champions for a while. Unfortunately, last time was when Eating House was still a pop-up so I just couldn't be out of the restaurant. It just so happened that I was available this last time, and it happened to be part of the tournament series.
Your first time on Chopped you were decked out in some orange kicks and an orange watch that the judges commented on. Was that intentional? Can we expect any fashionable flair this time?
It's just what I wear. I found out after that I was supposed to wear black shoes. Oh well.
What was the biggest thing you learned your first time around that you applied this time?
Stay calm and cook the food you know how to cook.
The ingredients list says there's a creepy chocolate involved in the dessert round. What ingredient creeps you out and would throw you off if it were in the basket?
Capers. I think they're abusive, like mustard.
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The prize is $50,000 and a new car. With the $10K you won the first time, you opened Eating House. What will you do if you win the $50,000?
Go back to Europe and give Eating House a little upgrade.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha