From Mom and Pop to Chopped Champion

One thing’s for sure—all the chefs we’ve gotten to know are hard workers who get a thrill from the rush of the kitchen. Chef Anup Joshi, a recent Chopped winner, is no exception. From starting in a small kitchen in New Jersey as a high schooler, to working his way up to NYC’s Tertulia, Anup has put in the time. Last year he was named on Zagat’s list of 30 under 30: NYC’s Hottest Up-and-Comers. Read on to learn more about him and his affinity for his mom’s cooking.

Anup Joshi, Chef de Cuisine at Tertulia
Anup Joshi, Chef de Cuisine at Tertulia

FP: How did you get your start with cooking? 

AJ: I started cooking at a mom & pop Italian spot in New Jersey during high school. I got addicted to the pace, the fire and the adrenaline. I decided at the beginning of my senior year that I wasn’t going to college and would pursue cooking.

FP: We bet being on Chopped got your adrenaline going! Speaking of Chopped… tell us about your experience on the show.

AJ: Chopped was incredibly stressful, nerve racking, but ultimately a rewarding experience.

FP: What was the hardest ingredient(s) to work with?

For me the avocados, the steel cut oats, and the huckleberries were the most difficult to work with. The oats and the berries were difficult because I didn’t have enough experience working with them. The avocados I wanted to do something interesting but it didn’t seem to impress the judges.

FP: Which round was the most difficult?

AJ: The dessert round was definitely the most challenging, both being at the end and having the most riding on it.

FP: We can only imagine the pressure!

Name some chefs that have inspired you.

AJ: My current chef, Seamus Mullen, has had severe health problems for a long time including rheumatoid arthritis, and he has been able to accomplish so much despite all this.

My grandmother has been cooking in a very traditional Indian way for a very long time, and it was incredible getting to cook with her in 2010 when I visited her.

Claudia Fleming and Pierre Herme are acclaimed pastry chefs who’s books inspired and taught me immensely during my stint as pastry chef at March.

FP: What are some of your favorite meals to cook for yourself and/or for guests?

AJ: I love one-pot meals, especially things with spice. Jambalaya, gumbo, curries, noodles. Things that we can share and enjoy with wine!

FP: Did you say food AND wine?! You’re talking our language!

When you’re not cooking at Tertulia, name some of your favorite places in NJ/NYC or other places you’ve visited.

AJ: I love Indian food, there are some cool neighborhoods in Manhattan (Curry Hill) and Queens (Jackson Heights) that have great Indian snacks. My local neighborhood in Astoria has great Greek restaurants, most notably Agnanti.

FP: Curry Hill and Astoria are some of our favorite food neighborhoods in NYC!

What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂

AJ: My mom’s cheesecake is unlike anything you’ve ever had. The custard is gently cooked then topped with sweetened sour cream and gently baked again. Once the whole thing is set and cold, I could eat the whole thing myself!

FP: We would love to try your mom’s cheesecake! Nothing better than home cooking or in this case, baking!

Name three individuals you would want to invite over for dinner and what you would prepare for them.

AJ: I’d make jambalaya for Emeril Lagasse, dosa for Floyd Cardoz, and cheesecake for Claudia Fleming.

FP: All three of those sound amazing!

In three words, how would your friends and family describe you?

AJ: Intense, goofy, honest.

FP: Sounds like a winning combination to us!

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing? What are your non-cooking hobbies? 

AJ: If I wasn’t a chef I’d probably be very bored, but I enjoy playing bridge and watching hockey. I’d probably be a professional bridge player and my dad and I would travel the country hustling older people… ha!

FP: We’ll warn everyone to watch out for your bridge prowess. 😉 Thank you Chef Anup for your time. We will have to make a trip to Tertulia in the very near future to try out your cooking! 

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