Whiskey & Wings

A New Year means a new season of Chopped episodes on Food Network. When our bodies allow us to stay up on Tuesday night past 10pm, we enjoy watching the contestants compete against each other, listening to the input provided by the judges and of course seeing what creative plates of food are created. In a recent episode titled “Whiskey and Wings”, Chef Dasha Perez-Haney displayed her talent and determination in the kitchen.

Chef Dasha Perez-Haney. Picture courtesy of Tavern Hospitality Group

FP: Tell us about your experience on Chopped from opening the first basket to the end.

DPH: My experience on Chopped was a whirlwind of emotion. I was a ball of nerves during the first round because I had no idea what to expect! When Ted announced that the theme of the day was Whiskey and Wings, I was grinning from ear to ear. I knew I had this one in the bag since I work for a whiskey bar!

The kitchen has always been my comfort zone and a place for me to flex my culinary muscle and let my creative juices flow. Just like in the show, you don’t find out what the basket ingredients are until that very moment when you open the basket. I’m normally the type of chef who has to sit down with a pen and paper to create ideas for dishes. I was most worried about not being able to come up with a cohesive dish in a short period of time. But as soon as that clock started ticking all the nervousness faded away and pure adrenaline took over. I felt more and more confident as I made it through each round because I knew what to expect.

Standing in front of the Chopping Block was the most intimidating part. It’s literally a stare off between you and the judges and you just pray your dish isn’t on the Chopping Block.

I was most excited about representing Colorado and all of the female chefs out there. Growing up in kitchens I have been faced with chauvinistic men who truly believed women didn’t have a place in the kitchen. Ultimately, that was the fuel to my fire early in my career which only pushed me to work harder. In the end, it was an unforgettable experience and I would do it again any day. You never know, you might see me on there again!

FP: You definitely displayed your culinary talents on the episode! 

Share with us a day in the life as the Culinary Development Chef at Tavern.

DPH: My goal as the Culinary Development Chef is to elevate our food, inspire my fellow Chefs, and create menus for our concepts. It’s funny how similar my day to day is compared to Chopped. I will prepare a dish to potentially be on the menu, put it on the table, and have my higher ups critique and pick my dish apart just like the judges do on the show.

FP: Sounds like you were well prepared to go on Chopped! 

Where are some of your favorite places to eat in Denver (or other cities)?

DPH: My favorite restaurant in Denver right now is Rebel Restaurant. It’s a very chef-driven menu with many unique, interesting, and inspiring dishes. Hands down my favorite favorite restaurant in the U.S. is Dirt Candy in New York. Chef Amanda Cohen is brilliant and creates inventive dishes that completely blow my mind. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with her when she did an event here in Denver.

FP: We’ll add Dirt Candy  to our ever growing list of places to eat in NYC.

What are some of your guilty pleasures? We call them foodie pleasures, hence the name of our blog!

DPH: Pizza! I can’t get enough of it. I eat it at least once a week.

FP: Can’t go wrong with pizza for sure!

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

DPH: If I could get on a plane tomorrow I would fly straight to Italy. There is nothing sexier than fresh pasta and a beautiful glass of wine looking over the Tuscan countryside.

FP: Pasta and wine? Let’s all get on a plane tomorrow!

What are the three words that friends and family would use to describe you. 

DPH: Passionate, genuine, ambitious.

FP: All three traits were on display on Chopped. We wish you continued success!

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