In a recent episode, Chopped served as a platform to raise awareness about childhood hunger. One contestant who is passionate about the cause is Chef Timothy Cipriano (@localfooddude) who spends his time educating schoolchildren about healthy eating and nutrition. We caught up with Chef Tim to learn more about him.
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 cooking?
TC: I got started in cooking when I was a wee tyke with my great grandmother, Nana Noodles. I decided I wanted to be a chef when I was in my teens and not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life. However, the one thing I always knew is that I loved to cook and enjoyed food very much. The #1 thing I enjoy most about cooking is the creativity and challenges that each item/person/cuisine presents and seeing how to break through the barrier to create something flavorful and fun.
FP: We love that you’re all about fresh local produce in your role as Director of Food Services at Guilford Public Schools. Can you share with us what a typical day at work is like for you?
TC: Working in School Nutrition is much like working in restaurants, no two days are the same. I enjoy visiting my schools and working with my staff and sitting with the students at lunch. Working with local farms is very important to me.
FP: Your students are lucky to have you!
Tell us about your experience on Chopped from casting to filming. What was it like to compete with the other chefs? What will you remember most about the experience?
TC: Chopped was a great opportunity to see through on a challenge of my professional experience among my peers. Working in school nutrition, I’ve been essentially out of the kitchen for the last several years, which added an interesting twist to the experience but it enabled me to use my skills I honed in my younger years as a line cook to put my head down, work as a team player albeit I was the only player on the team and focus on the task at hand.
Competing against the other chefs was an interesting game; a little of one chef vs. another chef, but much more of a psychological game, trying to pit the other chefs against each other. Creative thinking and well-chosen words during conversations played into the game. The day on the set was very long which wreaked havoc on one’s emotions.
The best part of the experience was using the experience as a platform to raise awareness and money to end childhood hunger. To contribute, visit my personal No Kid Hungry fundraising page.
FP: Definitely a good platform to raise awareness for such a great cause!
When you are home, what are some of your favorite meals to cook for yourself or for guests? If you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in CT.
TC: I love to work with local farms to procure many fresh fruits, proteins and vegetable to cook seasonal foods. I enjoy the food scene in CT, with many fantastic restaurants: Caseus in New Haven, CT; Waterhouse Oyster Bar in Branford, CT; 1249 Wine Bar in Waterbury, CT; Millwrights and Metro Bis in Simsbury, CT and Bricco Trattoria in Glastonbury, CT.
FP: We’ll have to check out those places if we are ever in the area!
What are some of your guilty pleasures (if any)? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂
TC: #1 foodie pleasure is checking out dive bars, drinking PBR or Bourbon and finding good food. Next foodie pleasure is visiting farms and restaurants that promote Farm to Chef.
FP: We love a good dive bar!
Name three individuals you would want to invite over for dinner and what you would prepare for them.
TC: Choosing just three individuals is difficult. I would like to have a family reunion with all my living and deceased relatives and cook a simple meal. However, the real reason for the gathering is to hear all the good stories and to record them all for future generations.
FP: In three words, how would your friends and family describe you?
TC: Passionate, a bit off his rocker, trailblazer.
FP: If you hadn’t become a chef, what would you be doing? Any non-cooking hobbies?
TC: I really enjoy foods, so if I didn’t become a chef I would perhaps be a farmer growing food for chefs. I enjoy hiking and the beach…but not at night!
FP: Thank you Chef Tim for your time. We wish you the best in your future endeavors!
For more information on Chef Tim, check out his website http://www.localfooddude.com