Spooning with Chef Joe

Chopped always packs an entertaining cast of characters  in addition to its challenging baskets. It was clear to see that Chef Joe Youkhan was having fun despite the heat of the kitchen. We had to learn more his passion for cooking– as well as the pigs feet, of course!

Chef Joe Youkhan
Chef Joe Youkhan

FP: How did you get your start with cooking?  

JY: I have been cooking literally since I was 5 years old. My Dad is a Chef and I spent a lot of time in the restaurants he worked at.

FP: Sounds like you were born to cook!

We love the concept of the Tasting Spoon Food Truck. How did the idea come about?

JY: Tasting Spoon came about after I knew that I wanted to start a culinary company but I had no money. The food truck was a less expensive way for me to brand myself. The imagery of the Spoon was from my childhood. My Grandmother had a huge wooden spoon that hung over her stove. I got my passion for cooking from her 🙂

FP: Congrats on being named Chopped Champion! Tell us about your experience on the show.

JY: Chopped was the most amazing culinary experience! Extremely intense cooking with mystery ingredients and the minutes feel like seconds. I have a lot of respect and admiration for the judges and I love the Food Network as it was awesome to be in that environment.

FP: What was the hardest ingredient to work with?

JY: The most challenging ingredient was the pickled pigs feet. Tons of bone and very little meat to work with.

FP: Oh yes, the pigs feet. We can only imagine.

Which round was the most difficult?

JY: The most challenging round was the dessert. I am not a pastry chef and here I am so close to the end so each second that passes gets more intense.

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

JY: My favorite meal to cook is a Grilled Aged Prime Rib eye with some grilled veggies and an old world style red wine.

FP: Can’t go wrong with prime rib!

When you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in Orange County. 

JY: Few of my favorite places to eat in O.C. are – Break of Dawn, The Winery Restaurant and Dublin Four.

FP: We have to get out to Orange County and check these places out! 

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

JY: My guilty pleasure is sitting down with a pint of Ben n Jerry’s “Chubby Hubby” ice cream that and a jar of Crunchy Peanut Butter.

FP: Don’t even get us started with ice cream…such a true foodie pleasure!

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

JY: If I wasn’t a Chef I would probably be a MMA fighter. I love Gracie Barra Jiu Jitsu and currently have a purple belt. When I am not working I am trying to spend as much time with my to sons Roenin and Kallin.

FP: Thank you Chef Joe for your time. We wish you continued success!

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