Roger Andrews owns Relish Burgers, and is a culinary instructor at the College of the North Atlantic. As of June, he’s also the latest winner of The Food Network’s highly competitive TV show, Chopped Canada. In a single episode, 4 chefs square off to make the best dish in 3 consecutive rounds – an appetizer, and entree, and a desert.
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.
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. Local chef Mark McCrowe (The Club, Aqua) has won the show in the past. Roger is now the second local chef to join the Chopped Canada Winner ranks. By declaring he’s “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” at the beginning of the show, he set himself up as an underdog. Though he did foreshadow his win with a confident declaration, “This time someone else can have second place for a change. I’m here to win!”
Roger’s episode was a carnival themed one. A theme no chef was loving. His competitors were Colin Robin (from Yellow Door Bistro in Calgary, Alberta), Beth Hume (from Cold Lake Steakhouse in Cold Water, Alberta), Cameron MacDonald (from Flour Mill in Port Colbourne, Ontario) … who is “very into aliens and life in outer space, I believe!”
The opening round of this episode was one of the toughest; competitors could use whatever they wanted to create an appetizer, but it had to include these four ingredients: root beer, a blooming onion (which is a whole, deep-friend onion), cooked ribs, and a waffle donut. All four chefs looked rightfully panicked. The 20-minute timer started ticking, and when all was said and done, Roger’s “Rib Ragout with a root beer cream reduction and waffle donut croutons” got him through just fine – it looked delicious.
Round 2’s mystery ingredients were maple fudge, soft pretzels, corn on the cob, and chili fries. This time they got 30 minutes. Andrews was quick to note the lack of protein in the mystery ingredient pile, so like a good east coaster would, he immediately thought “lobster boil,” and went with a butter poached lobster, with corn-maple succotash. And nailed it. His competitors, not so much: they lost track of time and lacked Roger’s cool-calmness. He’s only real challenge in the round was dealing with the fact Chef Cameron “accidentally” spilled a pile of cream onto his station, pots, pans … and even his shoes for that matter.
The dessert round? For even coming up with something using these mystery ingredients, Roger and the remaining contestant deserved $10,000 a piece: they had to conceive a dish using a watermelon sno cone, popcorn, caramel apples, and nachos & cheese.
You can watch this episode any time on The Food Network.ca. Congrats to Roger. He’ll be spending the $10,000 on a downpayment on a new car, to “get rid of the old clunker.”