Several local chefs have appeared on The Food Network’s high-pressure cook-off competition Chopped Canada, and a few, like Mark McCrowe and Rogers Andrews, have even won it. This week, Oppidan’s Roary MacPherson joined the ranks of local Chopped Canada winners. (Oppidan is the restaurant in The Sheraton Hotel.)
In an episode of Chopped, 4 chefs must square off to make the best dish in 3 consecutive rounds – an appetizer, and entree, and a desert. A panel of judges kick out one competitor per round, based on what they’ve cooked up. The food is judged on presentation, taste, and creativity.
The trick is, seconds before starting each round, they’re shown 3-5 ingredients they HAVE TO use in their meal, and then they must race against a clock to produce a dish more dazzling than that of their opponents.
Each episode pits chefs from all across the country against each other. Roary appeared in season 3, episode 22 of the show this weekend, but it wasn’t his first time on the show. And that was the theme of this episode: it featured 4 Canadian chefs who were on the show before, but were kicked out in the first round. Hence the episode title, “Redemption — Gone Too Soon.”
MacPherson says he was overwhelmed by the speed of the competition during his first appearance on the show, and didn’t take enough time to concentrate and plan his plates. This time around he took that time, and also embraced his Newfoundland roots.
In the time between his last appearance on the show and this one, MacPherson was inducted into the Canadian Chefs Federations’ honour society, and came back a calmer cook who took out his competitors, just as he calmly vowed he would in the beginning of the episode.
You can watch the entire episode online, here: http://www.foodnetwork.ca/shows/chopped-canada/video/episode/redemption-gone-too-soon/video.html?v=759662147588
All rounds were judged based on taste, presentation, and creativity in how contestants dealt with the mystery ingredients they were forced to work into their plates. In the appetizer round, Roary had to use peanut butter chips, plain kefir, anchovies, and pulled pork. Not an easy start, and likely the biggest challenge of the competition.
Yet Roary roared into the match with what was by far the best appetizer. As a Newfoundlander, he declared, “I know how to make fish batter, I make it every day.” He came up with a “Pulled Pork and Peanut Butter Chip Fritter.” So what’d he do with the anchovies? Threw them in a food processor with herbs and arugula, green apples, and olive oil, and tossed it atop the fritter.