Ready for Redemption

We’ve all heard the saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Learning from minor mistakes during his first time on Chopped, Chef Timothy Witcher recently displayed his culinary talents once again and this time around, won Chopped Redemption. We caught up with him to learn more about him.

Camden County Chef Wins Chopped
Chef Tim Witcher. Photo credit to Tracie Van Auken for The Philadelphia Inquirer

FP: Tell us about your experience on Chopped Redemption. How would you compare it to the first time you competed?

TW: The Chopped experience and process is one that has changed me as a Chef and a Christian. My first time on Chopped my nervous energy was very high. My dream since I was a child was to be on TV cooking, so having a chance to show my passion for the world to see was a little nerve wrecking. Getting so close but not winning was devastating (especially when 2 of my best friends had already won Chopped twice the very 1st season-Darius Peacock, the other winning season 7 of Top chef-Kevin Sbraga). I was in a depressed state for a while but that only made me lean on my faith and hope in God all the more, and train and study as a chef even harder. So when I did Redemption I was much more relaxed and focused and prepared to win.

FP: You definitely took advantage of your second chance! Share with us what a day is like as the Culinary Arts Teacher at Camden County Technical School. 

TW: I have about 30 students each day and it’s wonderful! Every day as a teacher is different, some days we may be preparing seared scallops in brown butter, sage, and preserved lemon over butternut squash risotto for our faculty lunch and some days I lecture on various cooking techniques, plate presentation, and product identification. Students will then create groups and apply their learned techniques to different food related assignments.

FP: Half of FP (Kristina) knows all about working with students every day! How did you get your start as a Chef? 

TW: I started in high school in a Burlington County Institute of Technology (much like the program I teach here at Camden County Technical Schools) which really ignited my drive and passion for culinary arts.

FP: What do you like most about being a chef? 

TW: The best part about being a chef is that you never stop learning. You can research types of cuisine, flavor combinations, ingredients and cooking techniques for your entire life and never learn or master everything. Good food is a part of every culture no matter the race, gender, or economic status of the group. So for me being a chef is a way to truly even the playing field in a sometimes unfair unstable world.

FP: Where are some of your favorite places to eat in the NJ/PA area?

TW: Han Dynasty in Cherryhill NJ, Sbraga and The Fat Ham in Philly.

FP: What are some of your guilty pleasures? We call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 😉

TW: Hands down the “Hot Chicken” from the Fat Ham in Philly! Its buttermilk fried chicken coated in a mix of lard and cayenne pepper (so wrong but so good) served with house-made ranch pickles and bread…amazing!

FP: You’re right, that sounds so wrong but so good! Name 3 chefs you would enjoy cooking in the kitchen with and why.

TW: 1st my grandfather Julius Jones- He passed before I was born but the stories my mom told me as a child about him being a chef in upstate NY is what was the catalyst for me becoming a chef.

2nd Emeril Lagasse- He is like the Hulk Hogan of the culinary game! He brought a passion and energy to food that I had never seen before growing up, and as a kid he was one of greatest inspirations.

3rd– Thomas Keller- Just an amazing chef…enough said!

FP: If you could get on a plane tomorrow and visit any place just for its food, where would it be? 

TW: Israel- I have a lot of friends there working as the Executive Chef at Camp Ramah in the Poconos (a Jewish summer camp) for the past 8 years, and the staff has shared a lot of the cuisine and techniques with me. So I would go right to the “shuk” and try everything in sight.

FP: If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing? What are some of your non-cooking interests and hobbies? 

TW: I would be a detective. I love Law and Order!

FP: Care to share with us what you did with the $10,000 prize? 🙂

TW: $1, 000 went back to the Perfecting Church in Washington Township, NJ and the rest were used for bills.

FP: Way to give back! Thank you so much for your time. We wish you continued success! 

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