On Tuesday, June 27, the Season 54 episode 27 of the cooking show “Chopped” featured GRCC Professor and Culinary instructor Jenn Struik along with three other contestants. Struik placed second out of the four contestants making it to the final round of the episode.
“Chopped” is a cooking competition in which contestants are given a basket of random ingredients. They have to make a meal using the required ingredients within a designated time limit, and the chef with the worst meal is “chopped” from the competition. The winner of the competition wins $10,000.
The episode started with an introduction of all four contestants along with the theme of each meal: Meat and Potatoes.
When asked about how she felt about the meat and potato themed competition during the pre-competition smack talk at the beginning of the episode, she said, “People look at me and say she’s a nice girl from the Midwest, but we do meat and potatoes well, and if you don’t, you should pack up and leave.”
In the first basket, the ingredients are a filet mignon, beef fat fudge, cherry tomatoes, and Idaho potatoes. Struik decided to make a seared filet crostini with a fresh tomato salad. The judges, Marc Murphy, Tiffany Faison, and former NFL player Eddie Jackson, thought it was delicious including the beef fat fudge sauce, but said she could work on the potato portion of the appetizer. However, Struik advanced to the next round with ease as her meal was top two out of the group.
In the next round, the basket contained bison ribeyes, steak cake, dandelion greens, and green peppercorns and the three chefs were given 30 minutes for the entree. Struik alluded to stepping up her game in the next round and she delivered. She made seared bison with sauteed dandelion greens and gnocchi. All the judges were amazed with the gravy added to the entree, but the meat was cooked rare for judges Jackson and Murphy. This put Struik’s chances in the air, but she survived again to move onto the final round of the competition.
Throughout the second and third rounds, Chef Struik almost encouraged her opponents instead of intimidating or mocking them. Chef Marlo made the same side dish in the entree, the Gnocchi, and instead of trash talking each other, they compliment each other’s side dish.
In the final round, Struik cooks against Marlo in the dessert round, which included roasted marrow bones, hash brown waffles, plums, and goat’s milk caramel. They get 30 minutes for the final dish, and both chefs used it wisely. Struik went with an all-in-one plum and bone marrow crumble with goat milk caramel whipped cream. It was a huge risk as she either had a flavor-blasting dessert or a mess of a crumble. When they served the dish to the judges, they loved it and appreciated the risk she took to make a crumble dessert. However, Marlo made a hash brown crusted french toast dripped with goat’s milk caramel that the judges enjoyed more which meant Struik finished in second.
At the end of the episode, Struik said, “I represented myself and the Midwest well and Chef Marlo was the better chef today.”