Thursday, February 22, 2018

Trini engineer wins 'Chopped'

Chef Winnette McIntosh (second from right) stands with the other three finalists for the Chopped: Gold Medal Games Baking competition.

AN episode of Chopped, the popular American reality cooking show on the Food Network, has been won by a Trinidadian.

Chemical engineer Winnette McIntosh Ambrose definitely knows her way around a Bunsen burner but this Washington, DC-based woman is showing that she has got what it takes to be a master in the kitchen.

Though she has never taken a cooking class, McIntosh Ambrose showed off her culinary prowess and bested her competitors, winning the Chopped: Gold Medal Games Baking competition.

The episode was aired on the Food Network on Tuesday night.

She will now compete in the grand finale, which is scheduled to be aired next Tuesday. If McIntosh Ambrose walks away with yet another win, she will not only claim the coveted gold medal but also US$50,000.

The culinary queen enjoys the sweet taste of victory, and is no stranger to it.

In 2012, she and her brother Timothy won Cupcake Wars on the Food Network. The siblings, apart from sharing a passion for food, are also graduates from the esteemed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

McIntosh Ambrose obtained her PhD in biomedical engineering and operates her own bakery, The Sweet Lobby, in Washington DC.

The Gold Medal Games is a new segment of Chopped and takes the form of a tournament and features 16 “world-class chefs”.

Each week, four new chefs compete utilising their greatest culinary skill—frying, grilling, baking or speed. The winner of each episode will then gain a spot in the finale and a chance to take home the gold medal and US$50,000.

They competed in three rounds—appetiser, entree and dessert.

For the first round, McIntosh Ambrose made stuffed bake with jerk lamb and a ginger liqueur reduction.

The competitors do not get to choose their ingredients and must work with what is in the mystery basket and pantry.

She noted that one of her strengths in cooking is flavour and understanding different flavour profiles and combinations.

“My palate and appreciation for flavour was formed and developed in Trinidad and Tobago, starting with my mother's phenomenal cooking. In Trinidad, we know how to make things taste good...we know how to combine spices and seasonings to deliver unstoppable flavour and this is my greatest strength. Of course, I have also honed my techniques in both pastry and savoury cooking over the years.”

For round two, the competitors were given spaghetti rings, smoked turkey legs, a roasted head of cauliflower and shredded phyllo dough.

McIntosh Ambrose made curried turkey, paratha and cauliflower choka. The final round was dessert and a blueberry cake with banana hot-chocolate sauce and meringue was the final impression McIntosh Ambrose left with the judges.

Her three-course meal went over favourably as they selected her to advance to the grand finale next week.