Will El Palacio’s Anthony Serrano get ‘Chopped’ tonight on Food Network show?

BY Jess Harter Tuesday, January 2, 2018

ElPalacioSerranoChopped010217Anthony Serrano, chef and owner of El Palacio Mexican Restaurant and Cantina in Chandler, continues to build his national profile tonight on the Food Network’s popular show ‘‘Chopped.’’

Serrano will compete in the show’s ‘‘Gold Medal Games,’’ a special four-part event with a grand prize of $50,000 (compared to $10,000 for a regular episode of ‘‘Chopped’’).

Tonight’s episode follows the show’s standard format:

  • Four chefs must use a mystery basket of ingredients to create a breakfast dish in a limited amount of time.
  • The chef with the lowest-rated dish gets ‘‘chopped,’’ and the remaining chefs use a new mystery basket to make an entree.
  • After another chef is eliminated, the last two get a final basket to make a dessert.

The theme of tonight’s episode is ‘‘Frying.’’ The next three Tuesdays will feature new competitors squaring off in ‘‘Grilling,’’ ‘‘Baking,’’ and ‘‘Racing the Clock.’’ On Jan. 30, the four winners will meet in a grand finale for the $50,000 prize.

Tonight’s episode is listed as 8 p.m. Mountain time, but the actual air time varies depending on your cable provider.

El Palacio, located on the northwest corner of Gilbert and Germann, will host a viewing party tonight with $2 Mexican pints and 50 percent off appetizers during the show (in addition to its regular Taco Tuesday specials).

Making the cut

‘‘Chopped’’ announced last spring it was holding auditions in the Valley. Serrano undertook a series of questionnaires, biographies, and two interviews at a Scottsdale hotel in June. ‘‘I actually had the summer flu and was just getting over it,’’ he remembers.

Finally, he was told he made the cut and would be invited to tape a show sometime in 2018 or early 2019.

It turned out to be much sooner. The show’s producers called and asked him to compete in the opener of the ‘‘Gold Medal Games,’’ which was shot in New York in October, just two weeks after the birth of Serrano’s latest child, Benjamin.

The episode was filmed in a single 17-hour day. ‘‘I met the other three chefs at a McDonald’s, of all places, at 5 a.m., and a casting person walked us over the studio,’’ he says.

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Shooting the episode

Serrano says his only preparation for the competition was to watch ‘‘about a million’’ episodes of ‘‘Chopped.’’ Given the theme, he says he correctly guessed that each mystery basket would contain a fried item.

He was allowed to bring only a set of seven knives with him to the studio, and before entering he had to surrender his phone, wallet and watch.

‘‘I was hoping we wouldn’t have to skin a fish,’’ he says. ‘‘Being born and raised in Arizona, that’s not exactly my style of cooking.’’

He was disappointed the show’s pantry – which competitors are allowed to raid to supplement the required items in their baskets – did not include avocados, an ingredient he planned to use. ‘‘Apparently, New Yorkers consider them exotic or something.’’

‘Very positive experience’

Serrano is not allowed to reveal the outcome of tonight’s show. In fact, the show’s strict rules prevented him from even sending out a release to local media. He was allowed to post about it on social media – but only using the show’s pre-approved wording and hash tags.

But Serrano is familiar with dealing with national shows and organizations. He advanced to the finals of the World Food Championships in 2016 and made his Food Network debut on ‘‘Ginormous’’ last June.

Tonight’s ‘‘Chopped’’ appearance is yet another high-profile feather in Serrano’s signature fedora.

‘‘I left there, like, ‘What a crazy day!’’ he says. ‘‘It was a very positive experience.’’

(Images courtesy of the Food Network)

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