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CHEF DELL TALKS “CHOPPED”
Las Vegas’ own Phillip Dell already has a full resume chronicling his wondrous talents as chef, caterer, private chef, nutrition consultant and instructor . . . to which he can now add “Chopped” champion on Food Network! Yes, indeedy, he took home the gold in the recent edition titled, “Cook Your Butt Off.”
Dell is known for his unique ability to create totally decadent dishes, through a full range of delectable courses, that are nevertheless quite good for you. He was among the four chefs Food Network selected ”with incredible weight-loss stories.”
And though he lives here in LV, chef Phillip says, “I am willing to travel anywhere help is needed.” And here’s what he told us about the “Chopped” experience . . .
♦ Can you describe the mental process that enables you to plan and execute dishes from the basket ingredients in such a a short time?
There isn’t one. Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow. In one of the courses, I just ran to the pantry and gathered the plan as I went.
♦ Were you given an opportunity to preview the auxiliary items in the Chopped pantry?
We were given a brief ten-minute tour of the pantry.
♦ What would you say was most surprising about the experience?
I wouldn’t say that I was really surprised by anything in particular. However, I was amazed by how structured and “tight” everything was. They tracked our every move on camera and off.
♦ The backstage chats seemed quite congenial – were they?
Very. All of the chefs were truly gracious and intrigued by each others’ stories. I hope to one day meet with them all again.
♦ Did the judges have any additional comments for you after the show?
Mostly complimentary and some discussion about a recipe transformation I mentioned in conversation during the taping.
♦ Did you have a viewing party when the show aired?
My church, Abundant Grace, hosted a viewing of the show in HDTV on two very large screens, and all were welcome. During the commercials, I was able to give commentary to add to the drama, and afterwards, I gave a testimony and answered audience questions.
♦ What’s next for you?
It is my wish to help people on a broader scale. I would really like my own show. Until that happens, I would like to book speaking engagements in order to reach a larger audience. I have faith that being on Chopped is just the beginning, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me.
♦ Anything else you’d like to add?
I was once a short, fat, unsatisfied man. I know there are many that feel the same way. Having gone through the process of changing to a healthy lifestyle, I hope that I can be an inspiration to those that yearn to do the same. So many have helped, taught and inspired me along the way, and I am thankful to each of them and to God for bringing each of them into my life and for providing me with opportunities to reach people and help them. For me, it is all about helping people live better, one bite at a time.
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In his response about post-show judge comments, Chef Dell made mention of a transformation recipe that he discussed with them. That was referencing his famous lasagna and he is generously shared this prep with VDF readers.
And I mean “generously in the most heartfelt way. You see, this is one of his prized signature recipes that has not previously been shared anywhere.
That, even though all who taste it ask for the recipe. And his clients call it legendary.
Chef Phillip, thank you so much. Readers, enjoy . . .
by “Chopped” champ Chef Phillip Dell
1 box no-boil lasagna noodles or multi grain lasagna noodles cooked to manufacturer’s specifications ♦ 1½ cups low-fat or no-fat ricotta cheese (I like Trader Joe’s brand) ♦ 4 oz garlic-herb, light Boursin cheese ♦ ½ cup grated parmesan cheese ♦ 3 cups shredded, low-fat or no-fat mozzarella cheese ♦ 1 tsp granulated onion powder ♦ 1 tsp granulated garlic powder ♦ 1 tsp red, chili pepper flakes (optional) ♦ ½ lb extra lean (96%) ground beef ♦ ½ lb Italian chicken or turkey sausage ♦ 4 cups marinara sauce plus additional for serving
Preheat oven to 375°. Brown off both the ground beef and Italian sausage. You may combine them after browning or brown them together. Drain and set aside.
In a bowl, combine parmesan, ricotta, and Boursin cheeses, onion powder, garlic powder and chili flakes (if desired). Set aside.
In ungreased 13x9x3 pan, spread one cup of marinara sauce in a thin layer. Place 4 lasagna noodles (don’t worry if they overlap) on top of the sauce. In order, spread evenly 1/3 of the cheese mixture, 1/2 of the meat mixture, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1 cup of marinara sauce. For the second layer, add in order 4 lasagna noodles, and then spread evenly 1/3 of the cheese mixture, and 1 cup of marinara sauce. For the final layer, add in order 4 lasagna noodles, the remaining 1/3 of the cheese mixture, the remaining 1/2 of the meat mixture, 1 cup of marinara sauce and top with 4 lasagna noodles, remaining sauce and remaining 2 cups mozzarella.
Cover with foil that has been lightly sprayed with canola oil and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until cheese has melted on the top.
Let stand 20 minutes before serving.
Chef’s Notes . . . For additional flavor, after adding top layer, sprinkle granulated garlic, Italian herbs and red chili pepper flakes on top before placing in the oven . . . For a richer dish, spread a layer of low-fat alfredo sauce on the bottom of each serving dish, place lasagna on top of the alfredo sauce and then spoon a layer of marinara over the top. Garnish with grated parmesan or shredded mozzarella, if desired . . . You can achieve the same low-fat result by using a higher percentage ground beef, if you rinse with hot water after rendering out the fat, then drain. This will cost you a little effort, but it will save you money.
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ARE YOU A PASTRY-SAVVY PRO?
If so, hurry, you have until June 10 to enter the Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition. It’s open to “any professional pastry working in the world today. There is no entry fee and finalists will be selected based solely on the artistic and culinary strenght of their work.”
It takes place at The Chicago School of Mold Making on Sept 14-16, 2013, for Season 3, where it will be filmed live, edited and released worldwide as a four video “season.” The four finalists will be asked to make eight plates of an original, creative, plated dessert, and also compete in a ”Mystery Challenge where they will push the envelope of plated desserts, plus create an Artisan Gelato Milkshake.
To apply, email your name, business name and contact information along with a short bio, chef photo and one photo of an original plated dessert to: info@JMPurePastry.com. Deadline is June 10, 2013, midnight.
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