Ask Chef Virginia Willis what she does in her spare time, and her first response will likely be a chuckle....
Three Atlanta lesbian chefs tested their skills on episodes of “Chopped,” the popular Food Network cooking competition, during November and December, creating delicious dishes from the TV show’s mandatory — and often decidedly odd — ingredients.
Chef Ria Pell won her episode, which first aired Nov. 20. Chef Virginia Willis placed second after encountering an especially challenging ingredient during her Nov. 27 show. Chef Courtney Renn makes her debut Dec. 18, so tune in then to see if she also finishes among the top “Chopped” chefs.
In the meantime, we asked all of these culinary stars to share some of their holiday recipes to help keep you from getting “Chopped” this season.
Chef Ria Pell is the force behind the iconic Ria’s Bluebird and also, in more recent years, Sauced on Edgewood Avenue. The tattooed cook named GA Voice’s Best Chef in 2011, Pell is taking her talents into the kitchen of “Chopped,” the popular Food Network show hosted by former “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” star Ted Allen.
The gimmick that sets this show apart is that the chefs are given mystery baskets filled with anything from chicken feet to frozen french fries to duck hearts. They then have 20 minutes to come up with a creative, tasty and beautiful dish to wow the judges. Starting with four chefs, they compete in three rounds — appetizer, entrée and desert — facing an elimination after each until the winner is chosen.
Pell said she couldn’t reveal what ingredients she had to cook with — or if she won or was chopped without winning the $10,000 grand prize — before the episode airs Nov. 20.