IUP alum wins on 'Chopped'
Tune in to the Food Network’s “Chopped” on Sunday, and you’ll see a familiar face.
A familiar face to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, that is: alumna Lindsay McClain, a graduate of the university.
McClain had the opportunity to compete against three other professional chefs on the popular cooking competition show on the episode “Swai Not?” that aired for the first time on June 24. The episode also aired Thursday and will one more time Sunday at 7 p.m.
And not only did she compete — she won. McClain went home with the grand prize of $10,000.
“Chopped” contestants are tasked with creating meals out of limited ingredients given to them in a basket. Before the baskets are revealed on the show, contestants have no idea what ingredients they’ll have to use.
According to tv.com, falafel mix and date paste were among the mandatory ingredients in Round 1. McClain said that, using what she was given, she made a falafel, sausage, hickory and date habanera.
During the second round, contestants were given fish, which “proved puzzling for the competing chefs,” according to tv.com.
The judges of “Chopped” commented on how great McClain utilized her technical skills to plate beautiful dishes.
And $10,000 wasn’t the only thing that came out of McClain’s hour of fame on the show. The biggest thing, she said, was the publicity that’s hit the restaurant at which she’s the chef de cuisine — Jamonera in Philadelphia.
“The restaurant has been really busy from the publicity,” McClain said.
Overall, the experience on the show, she said, was exciting.
“I practiced a lot (before the show) with the three baskets,” McClain said. “My cooks at work would make baskets for me.”
Throughout the duration of the competition, she remained calm.
“I’m really calm in the kitchen. I think, overall, it was calm and exciting.”
And, McClain said, it was fun to be able to compete against her peers in different cities.
“I really enjoyed it.”
Jamonera is a Spanish restaurant at which McClain has worked since its opening in 2012. According to McClain, it’s a restaurant focused on using local ingredients and staying seasonal.
McClain graduated from IUP’s Culinary Arts program in 2007, and earned a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management in 2009 from IUP as well.
Before working at Jamonera, she was employed by Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House inside the MGM Grand and also worked in a Greek restaurant in Las Vegas.