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As Robert Gonzalez stirs the rich, creamy chocolate ganache in the kitchen of The Concord Market, he can’t help but mentally transport himself back to New York.
It was there, earlier this summer, where the local pastry chef had to create a decadent dessert in front of three judges, using a mystery ingredient.
That’s the premise for the Food Network competition show, Chopped: Sweets Showdown, where four groups of four pastry chefs compete for the grand prize of $50,000.
“I tip-toed around it initially,” he said. “I’ve been approached in the past for doing shows but I was opening a restaurant or I was too busy because you have to take a few days off. But now that I kind of got the first-round nerves out of the way, I’d definitely do another show.”
Gonzalez’s preliminary round will air Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 9 p.m.
How he got there
The PR company that represents The Concord Market reached out to the show, which was looking for a male pastry chef for the new version of Chopped, a tournament-style format.
Gonzalez said he sent in a blurb to the producers, a small video of himself and his Instagram page.
“I did a few phone interviews and three weeks later I was in New York filming,” he said.
Gonzalez was familiar with the show, so he knew what he was getting himself into by agreeing to compete against three other pastry chefs.
“You look at your ingredients and you just begin to file through your mental index of what you can do in that time period,” he said. “It’s no joke. You have 30 minutes on the dot, from nothing to complete in front of the judges.”
What viewers can expect
In each episode, the four chefs have a sweet-themed ingredient in their mystery baskets that they must use through three rounds to create different dessert iterations in 30 minutes.
In the premiere episode, the chefs worked with chocolate as the main sweet ingredient in each round. Spicy booze and a book filled with bonbons are in the mix for the first round. An oversized beverage was paired with a stinky cheese in the second basket, and the third round featured a can of something that could give the competitors reason for concern.
Additional featured sweet ingredients include cakes, doughnuts, and ice cream, where, in a Chopped first, all four competitors had their own ice cream machine to work with during each round, as milkshakes, ice cream sandwiches and sundaes are on the menu.
“It was almost like an out-of-body (experience),” he said. “You get such a different perspective when you’re there versus seeing it on your television set. You get to see behind the curtain how everything is run. And they are a well-oiled machine. They have it down to a science.”
How did Gonzalez do? Tune in Tuesday to find out.