We all know that after a night of drinking, all food tastes incredible (i.e. Whattaburger). However, is it possible to cook incredible tasting food after a night of drinking?
My friends and I, all avid fans of Food Network's show "Chopped," were determined to find out. After each consuming a bottle of champagne, we gathered secret ingredients and picked a judges panel. We established two teams, each with three people, and designated one chef from each team per course. With high competitive spirit and lowered inhibition, we set out to prove our culinary "chops."
Appetizer Round: Canned Jalapeños and Boxed Mac n' Cheese
Immediately, both teams begin to brainstorm. Before the competition started, our appetizer chef had mentioned that his favorite foods are both spicy and fried. Bam—we have our idea: Fried jalapeño mac n' cheese balls. This feels like a no-brainer.
The tension in the kitchen is palpable as both chefs race the clock, with constant support (yelling?) from their teammates. The champagne hasn't totally kicked in yet and everyone is still quite capable this round. I’ll admit, as I watched my teammate pour a significant amount of oil into a hot pan, I almost wanted to call off the entire competition (thank goodness for electric stoves with no flame.)
However, faith is restored when we completely improvise how exactly to make a mac n' cheese “ball.” We throw cooked mac n' cheese, flour, diced jalapeños, and an egg in a bowl. Our chef mixes it up, forms a sad looking ball and throws it in the pan. Despite our doubt, it turns out perfectly. The adrenaline is real— somebody put us on TV!
The final dishes:
Team Fobby Blay creatively used tortillas and a muffin tin to form the base of their mac n’ cheese jalapeño tacos. It looks good, but can it beat ours?
My team, Flavor Town, garnished our fried jalapeño mac n’ cheese ball with an entire croissant. It felt like a good idea at the time...
After trying our dishes, the judges say their critiques. Much to Team Fobby Blay's dismay, the mac n’ cheese taco falls flat with the judges. On the flipside, they can't stop eating our dish! We have a clear victory for the round, and it feels good.
Entree Round: Canned Shredded Chicken and Lime Jell-O
Both teams stand in shock examining this round's ingredients—Lime Jell-O?! However, our dismay is soon replaced with a reminder that this is, in fact, a competition, and we better get cooking.
As a team, we decide to make lime chipotle chicken tacos, adding in real lime juice to try to mask the artificial flavor of the Jell-O. Although flustered by the unique ingredients (and champagne), our entrée chef is capable and competitive in the kitchen.
As our chef "reduces" the Jell-O in a skillet with the shredded chicken, Team Fobby Blay's chef catches my eye. "Is that... a casserole?" I whisper in disbelief. She's making an entire chicken pasta casserole in 30 minutes! My team is immediately humbled from our previous victory—we better make these tacos perfect.
The final dishes:
Team Fobby Blay wins the judges' hearts with their baked "Mexican Fusion" pasta chicken casserole. They pair the casserole with toasted garlic butter croissants that are so mouthwatering I immediately consume two with no shame. I'll admit it, they win this round.
The judges bite into our chipotle lime tacos, and based on facial expressions, the dish is not going over well. "The chicken is dry... plus I hate tomatoes," explains one judge. Immediately, the other two chime in and agree. All three judges hate tomatoes! This hardly seems fair, but I can't argue with a casserole.
Dessert Round: Nutella and Grape Jelly
Before this round beings, the judges pause the events to let all participants know that the competition is at a tie. Whichever team wins the dessert round will be the overall "Chopped" champions.
I'm feeling the pressure to perform right up until Team Fobby Blay sends in my competitor. Their dessert chef is clearly experiencing the effects of champagne. He holds up a sweet potato, looks at me, and asks "Is this a carrot or a small sweet potato?" I'm going to win Chopped!
With little hesitation, I decide to whip up a French toast sandwich using croissants, caramelized bananas, Nutella, and grape jelly. The competition is no longer making me nervous, but my competitor is as he slices open his finger without even noticing and continues to chop his sweet potato. "There's blood on the potatoes!" shouts a judge.
The final dishes:
Team Bobby Flay's dish consists of sweet potatoes cooked in a pan with grape jelly, then dropped on the floor and put back onto the plate. "This dish tastes like Danny Phantom!" exclaims one of the judges. The night is making less and less sense.
My loaded French toast dish turned out well. Despite Danny Phantom judge not liking banana, the other judges love all the flavors. Although the outcome of the competition seems clear, both teams still wait in anticipation for the final verdict.
Both teams stand anxiously in front of the judging panel, while the three judges insist on singing a Frank Ocean song before announcing any results. Despite the delay, the verdicts in: Flavor Town wins Drunk "Chopped!"
We simultaneously celebrate and Snapchat our victory. Although there can only be one winning team, everyone who participated enjoyed the night to its fullest (one member of team Fobby Blay is asleep on the couch, but we are pretty sure he had fun).
We all end the night with a sense of pride (and surprise) in our true culinary ability. Sure, maybe the champagne made the food taste better, but that was still one hell of a casserole. Food Network, you can call us anytime.