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A recipe for success!

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Local chef wins TV cooking challenge

By John Shindlebower

 

A dash of daring, a smidgeon of sweat and a pinch of perseverance – just part of the winning recipe for Spencer County’s Josh Moore as he won last week’s episode of Food Network’s “Chopped” cooking challenge television show.
Moore, who is part owner and executive chef at Louisville’s Volare Italian Ristorante, beat out three other contestants in a show that attracted the attention of many Spencer Countians, as they rooted for the local chef. Social media was full of people wishing Moore good luck and then congratulating him on the win after the episode aired.
Moore himself was busy hosting a watch party at his restaurant during Tuesday’s airing. He was being celebrated with a proclamation from Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, posing for photos, conducting interviews and receiving handshakes and pats on the back from well-wishers in attendance. Only when the party died down and Moore could drive to his Little Mount farmhouse, could he finally sit down and watch the episode that he had recorded.
Of course, he knew the outcome, and had known it for a year. Surprisingly, Moore said the episode was taped in New York City last January, so his victory was a secret he shared only with his wife. He had to keep mum when talking to everybody else.
“None of my family knew,” said Moore, not even his son who last year made the trip to New York with him. “It’s been difficult,” he said when asked about keeping the results hushed.
However, the pressure of keeping quiet pales in comparison to the pressure of competing on the show. He said the actual competition was as stressful as it appeared on the screen.
“It was one of the most challenging culinary things I’ve done in my 25 years as a chef,” said Moore.
“I’ve done a lot of local TV stuff, but this was my first national television,” Moore said of the show.
He said going into it, he wanted to win, but he also wanted to have a good time and put out good food.
“There was a lot of anxiety and anticipation going into it,” he said.
The competition pitted four chefs against each other. They were presented with a basket of unknown ingredients, and once the basket was opened and the items revealed, they had a short amount of time to prepare their dish. The episode’s theme was “Deadly Catch” and it centered around food items from the ocean, including crab, marlin and sea urchins.
Moore said as the baskets opened and ingredients were identified, contestants had to immediately begin imagining what they would do with them. Then the clock began ticking. They had 20 minutes to prepare an appetizer with the crab, 30 minutes for a marlin entrée, and 30 minutes for a dessert using the sea urchins.
“It’s very stressful. You’re trying to brainstorm or come up with a game plan,” said Moore. He said there were unique items and secondary ingredients that were foreign to him.
“Half of the ingredients I’d never used before, and some of them I’d never heard of,” said Moore.
He said another challenge was to find items in the kitchen. He explained that the contestants were at the studio for three or four hours before the contest began, but they didn’t see the kitchen until minutes before the competition. So they had to rush to find other ingredients, utensils and other items used to prepare their dishes.
Moore survived the appetizer round, impressing the panel of chef judges with his crab dish, and the field was cut to three. He and the remaining two contestants each had a scare with the entrée, as the judges informed that they had all overcooked the marlin – but Moores’s side dish of sea beans and other oddities won them over, meaning he made it to the final round – dessert.
In the final round, his enemy was the clock, as his baked cake barely made it out of the oven in time, and he topped it with an urchin ice cream that wowed the judges. When the judges finally rendered a decision, Moore was the last chef standing.
The victory came with a monetary prize of $10,000. Moore, whose introduction at the beginning of the episode included video clips of him and his family on their Little Mount farm, said he will use the prize money to refurbish a bathroom in the house.
He explained to the viewers that his family raises a lot of the produce on his farm that he uses at his restaurant. Moore, who grew up in Louisville, said Spencer County is now his adopted home and he said he was truly appreciative of all the support people in the county have shown him as the show approached.
Moore has also served as the guest chef at Spencer County’s Farm to Table meal at the extension office in recent years.
However, he acknowledged that the biggest windfall from the victory will likely be in the attention and marketing value for his Louisville restaurant.
“That’s way bigger than the prize money,” he said.
Moore said a lot of people enjoy cooking and piddling around in the kitchen, and said he thinks that’s the reason shows like “Chopped” appeal to so many people.
“I think most people cook at some caliber at home. People like these kinds of shows. They get to see differing things and different ingredients and techniques,” he said.
“The ‘Chopped’ show was so much fun. From a chef’s perspective I really enjoyed it because it’s so challenging and very fun,” said Moore, who said he also enjoyed the camaraderie with the other contestants.
Moore said the Food Network does do a “Chopped All-Stars” edition where they invite back past winners, but he’s not heard of anything in the works for his return. That may be just as well, as business at Volare is sure to pick up as local patrons will no doubt be lining up to experience what the local celebrity chef can offer up.
Want to keep up with Josh and what’s happening at his restaurant and on his farm? Follow him on Instragram at Joshuadmoore.
Moore will also be preparing a Farm to Table meal February 6 at Jeptha Creed in Shelbyville. That meal is from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $66.95. For information, go to jepthacreed.com/event/farm-table-dinner-february/.