Local chef set to compete on episode of Chopped
The episode’s theme focuses on Julia Child’s legacy
– Rachel Ponce, a local chef, will appear on the Nov. 28 episode of Chopped titled “Julia Child’s Kitchen: Part 3” on Food Network. Sixteen contestants compete in three rounds with a basket full of surprise ingredients to make an appetizer, entree and dessert dish; this tournament of five episodes will be inspired by various Julia Child recipes.
“I had a blast taping the bio, cooking and the interviews. The following day was the competition day. I woke up at 4 a.m., did yoga to try to calm my nerves, then hopped in the van to head to the taping. The producers were awesome and my nerves calmed down, until we walked out in front of the judges,” said Ponce, adding that “I kept thinking, is this real?”
The winners of the first four episodes will move on to compete in the finale, where the grand prize includes a $25,000 trip to France that is inspired by Julia Child. Ponce was contacted through Instagram by the talent agency and later conducted multiple interviews where she was told that in addition to Ponce’s history of professional cooking, she and her husband reminded the producers of the famous Julia and Paul Child, her husband. The mystery baskets in this episode include ingredients for a fish stew for the appetizer, veal for the entree, and fruit with processed cheese for the dessert.
“This was the hardest thing I have ever done. To put myself out there with no control of what happens was crazy. I spend weeks creating one dish, so to do something like this where you have no idea what you will cook [was] so out of my comfort zone,” said Ponce, who filmed the episode in New York City.
Ponce transitioned from owning a dance fitness studio and doing massage therapy in Chicago to a career in the wine and food industry in Paso Robles after moving in 2017 with her husband. Ponce currently owns Pair With, a company focused on catering, cooking and pairing classes, staff training at wineries, and more. In addition, Ponce leads the Edible Test Kitchen and works as the resident chef and recipe developer for the San Luis Obispo community portion of Edible Magazine.
“I focus on pairings [and] wine comes first…when I taste the wine, a dish starts developing and I create the pairings. Every dish is never the same, super unique and out of the box. I love cooking fusion flavors to enhance the wine…I love being creative in each dish and I love plating,” Ponce said.
For more information about Pair With, click the link here.