CALIFORNIA - A Filipino-American chef from the San Francisco Bay Area showcased Filipino cuisine during a New Year’s Eve edition of The Food Network’s cooking competition show “Chopped”.
Friends and family packed Somar Bar in Oakland, California to cheer on the Bay Area’s own Fil-Am chef Charleen Caabay.
With $10,000 to win, chef Charleen faced off against three other contestants in the show’s first-ever New Year’s party.
“The whole time I was nervous. I was looking at the other chefs and was seeing their strengths, their weaknesses but I was more grateful to be on the show itself. It’s huge!” she said.
The competition started with an extravagant appetizer basket that included $50-worth of caviar and other pricey ingredients.
Drawing inspiration from her Filipino culinary expertise, chef Charleen presented a crab torta with collard green-caviar laing.
She was spared from elimination and moved on to more premium items in the entree basket.
In this round, chef Charleen’s martini-steamed lobster tail with barbeque strip loin was a big hit among the judges.
In the final round--the dessert round -- chef Charleen capped off her performance with a funnel cake with pomegranate-grape compote.
In front of her friends and family in attendance, chef Charleen was announced the winner.
She said victory was not hers alone.
“When I went into Chopped, I wanted to put down Filipino food from the get-go. That was just something I was comfortable with it. I wanted to show it. This was my chance to show Filipino food to the world,” she said.
Chef Charleen is planning a trip to the Philippines to develop a menu for a new restaurant she plans to open soon in the Bay Area.
The Food Network is scheduled to air re-runs of the Chopped episode starting Thursday, December 29th through New Year’s Eve Saturday, December 31st.
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