Celebrity Chef Robyn Almodovar, owner of the immensely popular Fort Lauderdale/Miami area food truck Palate Party, won an episode of the hit Food Network show, CHOPPED.
No stranger to televised cooking competitions, Almodovar was a contestant on “Hell’s Kitchen” season 10, and she appeared as a guest judge on Food Network’s “Food Truck Face Off” last fall. “Chopped did a great way of portraying who I really am,” said Almodovar, who tried not to let the competition get to her. “It was me in a fight against my anxiety and my nerves,” she said.
While at first the other chefs seemed to snicker at the owner of Palate Party food truck, they shut up after judges Geoffrey Zakarian, Marc Murphy, and Amanda Freitag sang the chef’s praises, with Zakarian telling Almodovar that she “cooked her truck off” and that he admired her because “she’s not wasting a minute.”
In the last round, Almodovar faced off head-to-head against Four Seasons Chicago’s executive chef Stephen Wambach. Almodovar found her groove and Wambach found humility and respect for the diminutive powerhouse. In the end, it was the food truck chef’s fried bread pudding with a strawberry/caramelized onion reduction that won the day.
Almodovar says that her Chopped experience was “one of the hardest things that I ever had to do.” The chef, who had previously been on Hell’s Kitchen, said that this Food Network show was even more nerve wracking than having Gordon Ramsay scream at her. “The two shows are like apples and oranges. Hells kitchen you’re nervous the first eight hours. Then you go to sleep you wake up you get nervous again he work in the kitchen to get nervous again and there is that adapting period. On Chopped there isn’t enough time to adapt. It’s sink or swim. Sometimes you sink sometimes you swim. Everyone at home has to see if I made it to shore or if I drowned in the ocean.”
Each week, chef Almodovar will design and prepare a new three-course meal for guests to experience. For the three-course meal, guests can choose between appetizer signatures like slow braised meatballs, with homemade ricotta cheese, pickled shallot, ricotta, and Sunday’s gravy; deep fried egg salad with frisee, bacon lardon and sherry vinaigrette; and crud of fresh branzino with blood orange vinaigrette, black garlic, crispy shallots, and harissa oil.
Almodovar said a lot of people have asked her how to get on “Chopped.” She has a simple answer: “Go on the website. Fill out the application. Don’t let fear hold you back.”
And what does Almodovar plan to do with her $10,000? “I really want to travel to Italy,” she said.
Almodovar’s episode, titled “Tendon Intentions,” will air again on Food Network on July 16 at 9 p.m. and July 17 at midnight.