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Chopped Throwdown: Sibling Edition

Posted Jan 15 2013 12:01am

Truth be told that I’m not the only one in my family who loves to cook.  One of my younger brothers, Austin,  is equally as passionate about it.  He will blow your socks off with his chicken tacos and homemade salsa.  You don’t want to mess with his ability to create a mouth-watering sauce (masala, enchilada, tzatziki- you get the point!)

We both love cooking so much, that we have been aggravating each other the past  year about having a “throw down” to settle who is the better cook once and for all.

With the help of our family putting it all together, IT.WENT. DOWN.


The rules were pretty much the same as the show, with the exception of added time.  Because we cant pretend to be pros and run around the kitchen with knifes in our hands trying to make the time;)

Slide2  My hubby and my youngest brother went to town and put together the mystery ingredients plus all of the “essentials” that Austin and I requested to cook with.

My family, two of my best friends (who were also my bridesmaids), and a handful of close friends  of the family were all there to watch the “show” and be our judging panel.

(All pictures were taken on other people’s iphones.  I didn’t take any because I was tied up cooking- so these are the best pics that I gathered from the bucket of iphone pics ;) )

Ready and armed with our wine and IPAs the timer started at 30 minutes and we opened the basket to the first  three ingredients: IMG_1290

Chicken breasts, graham crackers and wasabi powder.

Austin and I both dove right into challenge.


I immediately went straight for the onion to caramelize it.  Wasn’t sure where I was going with it…..but I thought I could figure something out later on.  I looked at the chicken and graham crackers and thought, welp, what else can I do except chicken fingers with a graham cracker crust?! I knew I wanted to bake the chicken after I dipped it into the graham crackers.

IMG_1289 As I was crushing the graham crackers, I was trying to come up with a game plan for how the world I was going to bring it all together.  I decided to make a goat cheese wasabi sauce for dipping the chicken fingers that were topped with the caramelized onions.

Then I looked over and saw that Austin was also making chicken fingers…..except he was frying his in bacon fat.  My heart sank. EVERYONE LOVES BACON!

After (friendly…) accusations of “copying” each other, we kept charging onward.  Our final appetizer plates:


Austin went with graham chicken fingers served with a wasabi avocado dipping sauce.  I finished my graham chicken fingers off with a squirt of lemon and the wasabi goat cheese sauce. We were both going for sweet and spicy flavors between the graham and the wasabi .

Judges did their thang IMG_1293

Our mom was a judge for the first round, but she got vetoed off after she gave us both all tens….in every category.

The categories were




each worth 10 points.

I’ll admit it, Austin won the first round.  His creative presentation (did you see that perfect avocado cup?) and frying the chicken made him the winner.

I sadly accepted the fact that I had just lost to my younger brother for the first round, but ready to killlll it in the main course round.  Bring it!!

Until we opened the basket of the ingredients and saw IMG_1284

Yams, blue gill (my dad caught from the mississippi and froze this summer) and pomegranates.

Yeah.  Panic took over. We were both sweating it for a little bit.

I went straight to the poms and started seeding them….I knew it would take a while and I needed to make a plan of attack.  IMG_1297

Austin played it cool and took a sip of beer while he contemplated his next move.

Then *lightbulb*!! When I was in Pittsburgh a few weeks prior, I had eaten a delicious meal of a fish stew/bowl/hash that had potatoes, capers and cod.  I was going to use it as inspiration to make my dish.  IMG_1300

Austin decided to make fish tacos with a mediterranean spin.  (After he mentioned this I was like greeaatttt he’s going to beat me.  Beat down!)

I tried to keep it cool, too.  Except it was more like I was totally zoned out and in it to win it! IMG_1299

After an hour filled with every emotion possible (panic, excitement, jealously, anxiety, confidence, etc.),


(I like that u can see my dad videotaping in the background and sorry Austin’s head got cut off!).

Out of everyone who was there, we literally only had one picture of each of our final dishes- talk about luck!  I would have been bummed if we forgot to take a pic, we were just SO in the moment ya know?

Austin’s final dish of mediterranean tacos included pan seared yams, fried blue gill , pomegranate reduction and a tzatziki sauce  (that was out of this world, might I add).  IMG_1301

My fish bowl/stew ended up being boiled yams, seared fish, mushrooms, onions, garlic, olives and fresh poms with a broiled piece of ciabatta bread


The judging panel decided that my bowl tasted delicious (and the crunchy bread was imperative).  They were extremely impressed with Austin’s tacos (in fact, I think they liked them more overall…) but ultimately decided that they couldn’t taste the pomegranate reduction very well and the yams didn’t necessarily need to be in it.

Sooooo I snagged the win by a mere 4 points total.  only FOUR out of the entire competition!  I may have ran around the house screaming obnoxiously with joy for a minute or so.But I’m not going to lie to you, I was worried.  Reallll worried that I was going to lose.  And I almost did.

 It all went so smoothly- from the really creative mystery ingredients to the judging panel, that we decided this needs to be a new family tradition that will go down at our parent’s house every year when we’re home for the holidays.

It’s possible I’m afraid of Austin’s mad skills improving over the next year.  Guess I better get practicing- gotta hold the Chopped title! bahaha.  It was such a good time, overall.  So glad that me and my bro have such a fun hobby in common ;) Thanks to our family and friends’ hard work (and mad props to my parents who cleaned up the tornado that seemed to have gone through the kitchen when it was over).

The next morning we polished off Austin’s sauce on an egg sammy (plus a slice of bacon and avocado).  It was still soooo good the next day!  Sometimes those flavors just need time to marinate, eh? IMG_1085

Question: What would you have made with the mystery ingredients?

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