The competition is always fierce in the Chopped Kitchen, but never more so than during Chopped Champions. The opportunity to watch experienced contestants compete for an even bigger prize is exciting as lessons learned are applied and the high stakes promote taking even greater risks. We recently caught up with Chef Corwin Kave to see what it felt like to be back in the Chopped Kitchen.
FP: Where are you currently working? Can you tell us a little about the establishment?
CK: I am in Moscow opening a cocktail bar/restaurant with ProprietorsLLC (most famous for Death & Comapny in NYC). I cannot disclose the name as of yet but we will be open to the public sometime next week. There is a restaurant and full bar upstairs as well as a separate cocktail lounge downstairs with extended hours. The food is European-American with local inspiration and the cocktail program is extensive, focusing on classic craft American cocktails.
FP: Sounds exciting! Wish we could visit Moscow!
How did you get your start with cooking? When did you decide you wanted to be a chef?
CK: I started cooking when I was a sophomore in High School. I ran out of electives to take (nothing really stuck for me) so I enrolled in Home Ec. Fresh baked cookies and an all girls class? I’m sold!
I started as a dishwasher/busser/prep cook at an Italian restaurant on Long Island and spent half my high school day at BOCES studying culinary. I attended NECI straight from high school and was working in Manhattan by 19.
FP: Enrolling in Home Ec. was a smart idea!
Name some chefs that have inspired you.
FP: Sounds like you come from a family of culinary talent!
CK: Chopped is rough. After the first time I promised myself I would never do that again. Don’t get me wrong I love competing but I was a busy man at the time and ended up being especially busy the week I filmed Champions. It’s the kind of show that if you’re not rested and pumped up you just won’t succeed. The money for Champions was just too good so I came out of Chopped retirement for another crack at it.
On Chopped Champions the competition was stiff; as to be expected. The funniest part was they pinned me up against a former cook of mine but I was expecting him to be there. My most difficult ingredient was on my first episode (lutefisk). It’s supposed to be funky and salty but it tasted like wet sponge.
FP: We’re sure glad you agreed to return to Chopped!
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.
CK: I cook simply at home like most chefs. In NY I am blessed as we all are with excellent local markets and vibrant ethnic neighborhoods, which I take full advantage of. But at home I mostly cook roast chicken and drink funky wines from the Jura.
I live in Astoria so my favorite places near home are Kebab Cafe, Queens Kickshaw, and Agnanti. In the city I still love my Fatty Crab & Fatty ‘Cue, Pig & Khao, 15 East, Tsu Ku Shi, L’Artusi and all their places, Il Buco Alimentari, Momofuku Ssam Bar, and Prune.
FP: We’ll have to add those places to our ever-growing list of places to check out!
What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂
CK: Frozen Snickers bars!
FP: Now that’s DEFINITELY a foodie pleasure!
What advice would you give novice chefs?
CK: Clear hearts, sharp knives, can’t lose!
FP: Short and sweet, we like it!
If you hadn’t become a chef, what would you be doing?
CK: I’d be a ski Instructor. One of these days I’ll get there.
FP: We imagine you’re just as talented on the slopes as you are in the kitchen! However, selfishly, we’re glad you’re a chef at the moment! Thanks so much for your time. We can’t wait to follow your career in Moscow and back here in NYC!