For most chefs who grace the kitchen stage on Food Network’s Chopped, it’s enough of a victory to make it to the dessert round, let alone walk away with the figurative crown. So can you imagine what it feels like to earn that top spot not once, but twice?
Chef Chris Holland can. As of November 12, he can one-up that feeling, too. After throwing his hat into the culinary ring during the show’s “Thanksgiving Champions” episode, he walked away with an incredible third win.
“It is an amazing feeling,” the Hudson Valley chef, who mans the kitchen at Sparkill’s DVine Bar, enthuses. “I was going against a lineup of Chopped hall of famers. To come out on top against that caliber of competition is really special.”
What an amazing experience it was having the opportunity to compete against some of the best chefs to have ever competedbon Chopped @adrianaurbinap @boots_bites @christianpetroni. To be able to do it for a charity that I feel strongly about made it even better. Tune into @foodnetwork @chopped at 9pm to see whether or not I won 10k for the @mssociety. #chopped #foodnetwork #chef #msawareness #multiplesclerosis #MS #mswarrior
Indeed, Holland faced quite the roster of competitors during the Season 44, Episode 6 show. As part of the three-course challenge, he took on past winners Chef Melvin “Boots” Johnson, Chef Adriana Urbina, and, fellow Hudson Valley Chef Christian Petroni. The chefs struggled with an unpredictable arsenal of ingredients (turkey testicles, anyone?) while working within the narrow time constraints and unpredictable kitchen frenzy.
So what did Chef Holland prepare to wow the judges so? After beginning the meal with an appetizer of turkey testicles in a peanut butter cookie coconut curry, he served liverwurst and bacon shumai over a turkey and spicy cheese curl dashi as his main. For dessert, he wowed judges Scott Conant (of Resorts World Catskills’ Cellaio), Alex Guarnaschelli, and Marc Murphy with pumpkin waffle sticks accompanied by a dried persimmon anglaise.
Tying into the episode’s Thanksgiving theme, chefs competed for $10,000 to donate to charities near and dear to their hearts. For Chef Holland, that meant the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a group with which he’s been working since his own diagnosis with MS in 2004.
“This time around, I felt like I was competing on behalf of everyone out there who lives with the uncertainty that comes with MS,” he says. “My hope is that someone out there saw me doing what I love to do and is inspired to take back their life as I did.”
Prior to Holland’s diagnosis, he was a managing paralegal on track for a law school degree. Yet after coming to grips with MS, he realized that the kitchen was where his heart truly called. Although he had zero culinary experience at the time, he worked his way up from head chef as a small New Jersey restaurant to sous chef at Axia Taverna in Tenafly. A year later, he relocated to DVine Bar in Sparkill and has been there ever since.
Now with a third Chopped victory under his belt, Holland is content to continue whipping up culinary bites in the Hudson Valley. He loves the opportunity to cook, which he sees as a perfect marriage of art and science, each day. When he’s not working at the restaurant or spending time with his wife and family, he hopes to continue to give back to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as well.
“I have such an admiration for people who devote their lives to helping others, and this is an organization devoted to helping me and a million others just like me,” he notes.
Visit the Chopped website for information on the episode’s next air date.