Your Daily Chopped Challenge

Competition Winner Chef Joe Rego Shares Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks Seeking Dinner Inspiration

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Photo by Scott Holstein

Joe Rego, winner of the Food Network's "Chopped" challenge now shows off his culinary expertise at Tallahassee's Front Porch.

Fans of the Food Network are sure to have a nodding acquaintance with “Chopped,” a popular competitive cooking show, now in its 13th season.

Here’s how it works: Four professional chefs participate in three rounds of cooking — an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert — which are then judged by a panel of experts. After each round, one of them is “chopped.” At the end, a champion is crowned and given a $10,000 prize.

Here’s the rub: Immediately before each round of cooking, the contestants are presented with a basket of four “mystery” ingredients and asked to create their dish using all of them — in 30 minutes or less. Usually, the ingredients are odd combinations, (an entrée comprised of beef shoulder, yucca, raisins, ancho chilies and dill pickles, for example), obscure (jiggery, umeboshi, sea beans, mangosteen, hamachi) or just plain gross (chicken feet, goat brains).

While “Chopped” is made for TV, many Tallahasseeans face a similar challenge every night: You hit the door after work, the family is hungry and you’re staring at the contents of the fridge and pantry, wondering what the heck you’re going to pull together … pronto.

Tallahassee has its own “Chopped” champion in residence — Joe Rego, executive chef for the recently opened Midtown restaurant, The Front Porch, was crowned in a show that aired last July. And he agreed to fashion a trio of recipes for our readers using staples that can be found in most kitchens, while keeping the prep time under 30 minutes.

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