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Chopped competition photo collage

Anniston’s 2nd Annual CHOPPED Culinary Showdown

Get ready for the premier culinary competition in Calhoun County.  Anniston’s Fourth Friday will be presenting the 2nd Annual CHOPPED Cooking Competition this Friday evening, August 26 from 6-9 pm.  Witness four local head chefs and their assistant sous chefs as they compete for the ultimate prize–a customized chopping board awarded by Downtown Anniston.

CHOPPED 2022 Line-up

For fans of the Food Network television series Chopped, the competition in Anniston is based off of that.  Four prominent local chefs will compete in outdoor kitchens, paired up on opposite sides of historic Noble street.  Their kitchens will face the mainstage where two local celebrity judges and a mystery chef judge will be seated to critique dishes and determine this year’s champion.

Three restaurants featured in this year’s competition also took part in CHOPPED 2021:  Thai One On, Rack and Roll Billiards & Sports Bar, and Effina’s Downtown.  The other restaurant, which won’t be competing this year, was The Peerless Saloon.  In its place will be the newest restaurant in town–Coldwater Mountain Brewpub.  Last year’s winner was Effina’s Downtown, and they’ll be competing to retain the prize through the culinary skills of their Head Chef Giancarlo Miranda.  The restaurant’s owner, Steven Katsinas, expressed that, “As a 5th generation restaurant owner, I’m excited for the opportunity and thankful for the platform this event brings to showcase their culinary talents.  I have been a member of Downtown Anniston for many years and am grateful for the unity and camaraderie that has been developing along Main Street in the last year.”

This year’s head chefs will include:  Chef Sam Sutchaleo (Thai One On), Chef Andrew Denton (Coldwater Mountain Brewpub), Chef J.R. Dell (Rack and Roll Billiards and Sports Bar) and Giancarlo Miranda (Effina’s Downtown).  Returning Chef Sam Sutcheleo shared that his restaurant will close its doors Friday as he’ll be taking a 3 month hiatus with his wife to travel to Thailand. He’s been in business the past 10 years, but the pandemic has taken its toll on their restaurant, leaving them understaffed and struggling.  He said, “I appreciate all the support from this community over the years, and want to go out with a bang.  I love the challenge of doing something different I’ve never done, which this competition has allowed.”

When Chef Andrew was asked about his strategy heading into the competition, he shared that he was doing his homework.  He’s lived in the Southwest before, so Mexican cuisine is more in his wheelhouse.  On the other hand, food from Hong Kong can contain complex flavorings, and he is the least familiar with Danish cuisine.  “I’m happy to represent Coldwater Mountain Brewpub, since we’re the newest restaurant on the block.  We’re not going anywhere, and we’re coming for them.”

While one judge’s identity will be kept under lock and key till competition day, the two local celebrity judges will be Anniston’s own Mayor Jack Draper and Anniston Councilwoman Ciara Smith.  This year’s host, Brett Jenkins, was one of the judges of last year’s competition.  Being an Anniston native and the proud owner of two restaurants in Gadsden–the Harp and Clover and Nola on 2nd, he is an expert in the culinary craft.  As the competition plays out, Brett will be making his rounds to the chefs to interview and make observations of their efforts, while also talking to the judges, the live camera crew, and the live audience.

The Theme for Chopped 2022

The CHOPPED competition, hosted by Main Street Anniston, is led by its organizer Karla Eden, who was inspired to create this event based off of the television show CHOPPED.  She admitted that she and her husband are huge fans of the show, as she is a former pastry chef, while her husband Leo is a culinary chef.  She expressed that this annual event was developed as a way to motivate people to visit downtown Anniston, and it helps to highlight what these local restaurants have to offer folks who attend Fourth Friday events.

In last year’s competition, which was filmed live on Noble Street, the chefs were given a set menu to prepare and a list of ingredients they could choose from.  This year, the organizers of the competition wanted to let the chefs’ talents shine by allowing them to choose what they want to prepare, but the theme will be street food from a particular country for each round.  The chefs were told ahead of time (this week) what countries their cuisine should represent so that they could prepare a strategy and gather ingredients in advance.   The head chef for each restaurant must stay in the street kitchen for the cooking rounds, but each will have an assistant sous chef, who is allowed to leave the kitchen if needed for extra supplies. Each team must prepare 4 plates per round–one for each judge plus one presentation plate.  The rounds will go as follows:

Appetizer Round: Mexico (20 minute cook time)

Entree Round:  Hong Kong (30 minute cook time)

Dessert Round:  Denmark (30 minute cook time)

Halfway through each round, a mystery ingredient will be added to the required dish, creating another challenge for the chefs to overcome.  At the end of each round, the dishes will be presented to the judges to sample and rate.  

The big question is:  Who will be the victor in Anniston’s 2nd Annual CHOPPED 2022, and receive the coveted custom chopping board, etched with the title “Champion”?  To find out, come down and take a seat on the spectator bleachers on the 900 block of Noble Street and be a part of this fun event.  Besides this special activity, there will be other fun family-friendly things happening at Anniston’s Fourth Friday, August 26 6-9 pm, including the Classic Car Cruise-In, live music, food, and a variety of vendors.

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