Not only are we big fans of the show Chopped, but also we’re especially big fans of chefs who cook with passion. In a recent episode, Chef Joe Rego displayed his skill and enthusiasm for cooking. We caught up with Chef Joe and here is what he had to say.
FP: How did you get your start with cooking? When did you decide you wanted to be a chef? What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
JR: I started cooking when I was a teenager just helping my grandmother and my mother with odds and ends in the kitchen, like peeling potatoes, shelling fava beans, dicing onions, etc. I decided to be a chef one day when I was working as a pipefitter at a boat shipyard. I opened my lunch box at coffee break and said to myself, “what am I doing for the rest of my life?“ I shut my lunch box, quit my job right there and enrolled a few weeks later at Johnson & Wales University and have never looked back since. What I enjoy mostly about being a chef is the smiles I get when people savor my food. That’s the rewarding part for me.
FP: Your plates on the show definitely put smiles on our faces!
Name some of your favorite chefs and why.
JR: Mario Batali because he has wealth of knowledge about Italian cuisine. His food is simple by using the best ingredients and I live by that.
FP: Tell us about your experience on Chopped from casting to filming. What was it like to compete with the other chefs?
JR: I went to an interview here in Atlanta along with about another 100 chefs locally. I believe about ten of us made it. The actual filming of the episode was super intense. It’s one thing to see it on TV but it’s completely different when you have ten plus cameras on you all of the time. I walked into the studio at 6:30 am, we were competing at about 9 am and I didn’t leave the studio until about 9:30 pm at night. It was a long day, but it was all worth at the end. It was fun to compete against other chefs around Atlanta because I knew all of them lol
FP: We read that you’re the Executive Chef at Atlanta Event Center at Opera. Describe a typical day there.
JR: Atlanta Event Center is a catering company within a Club Opera. It’s a restored Opera House and we do many corporate events, weddings, mitzvah’s, film shoots and many other events. We are super busy all year round!
FP: When you are home, what are some of your favorite meals to cook for yourself (If any)? If you go out to eat, name some favorite places in the Atlanta area. What are some of your guilty pleasures (if any)? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂
JR: When I’m at home I don’t usually cook and if I do it will be something fast like a fried egg or a Ramen Noodle (Yes I eat those too, lol) My favorite places to eat in Atlanta is Ming’s Chinese BBQ and Local 3. My guilty pleasure foods are Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Heath Crunch Bar Ice Cream and french fries. I can basically live on those two items. Oh yeah bread, bread, bread and more bread!
FP: In three words, how would your friends describe you?
JR: Funny, dedicated, passionate
FP: If you hadn’t become a chef, what would you be doing? What are some of your non-cooking hobbies?
JR: I would be singing on Broadway maybe as one of the main characters for Les Miserable. I love to sing!
FP: We can hear you singing in the kitchen right now!
Where will we see Chef Joe Rego in ten years?
JR: Alive and cooking my heart out!!!
FP: Thank you for your time Chef Joe. We wish you continued success! Let us know how the trip to Portugal turns out, especially the food!
Learn more about Chef Joe Rego at www.chefjoerego.com.