Leading up to her appearance on Food Network's hit show Chopped, Brassica Kitchen sous chef Brianna Bowering got tested Chopped-style by her coworkers.
"Every day the kitchen is responsible for a meal for the staff before service. Leading up to me going on the show, some of the staff would go to the bodega down the street and pick three ingredients for me to cook with, then would set a time and watch me go for it. Each time we shortened the time I had to cook," said Bowering.
To prepare for the show that pits four chefs against each other in three rounds of timed competition, Bowering memorized a few pastry recipes and ratios to ensure she had a few dessert possibilities if she made it to the final round. Unbeknownst to the competitors, the episode was a breakfast-themed edition, so Bowering said "any plans I had for the first two rounds were impossible to execute."
The competitors also don't know who the judges are until they arrive on set, and for Bowering's show there was a guest judge -- Martha Stewart.
"I didn't think that any of my culinary idols would be a judge... As I rounded the corner I saw the woman who adorned my mother and grandmother's television all throughout my childhood," said Bowering to Jamaica Plain News. "I was meeting the woman who taught me how to tie the perfect bow, make the perfect cake, and create the perfect pie crust! It was mere coincidence that the pie dough I used in the last round was a modified version of her recipe."
Sadly, the contestants don't get to interact with the judges because the show's producers don't want there to be any sign of bias.
And while the episode only lasts one hour on television, filming took about 12 hours for the last two contestants — and Bowering was one of the final two. "Half of the time we had numerous cameras on us recording our every move and the other half of the time we anxiously waited to hear the results on each round. The wait period often varied. There were dozens of interviews in-between judgment," said Bowering.
Unfortunately, Bowering was chopped in the dessert round, coming in second. But she seemed accepting in the outcome, only wishing she had been less nervous, and of course, had made a sauce for her first course, which the judges harped on in their final decision.