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Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
Photos by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS

A chef from a popular Greek restaurant on Bell Boulevard will represent Bayside on a television cooking competition.

Chef Maria Petridis of Maria’s Mediterranean Seafood & Grill at 38-11 Bell Blvd. will flex her culinary muscles on a soon-to-be-aired episode of Food Network’s show “Chopped,” premiering on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 10 p.m.

“It was very tense, hard,” Petridis said. “But so rewarding because it teaches you to look into your soul and figure out who you really are for real.”

The “Chopped” series is a fast-paced competition that pits four chefs against each other in a three-round contest for a chance to win a $10,000 prize.

Petridis explained that the experience started with a phone call.

“[The Food Network] just called me,” Petridis said. “I don’t know how they found out about me, but they asked me if I want to compete. And of course I said yes — why not.”

At the beginning of each round, chefs are presented with a unique basket containing three to five unusual mystery ingredients and are expected to use all of them in some way.

“You’ve got to think very fast,” Petridis said. “You have to be very, very creative, think out of the box and just go for it. There’s no second guesses and there’s no second chances.”

Each chef’s creation is then judged by a panel of esteemed judges. Judges who appear on the show are well-established chefs and food personalities, including chefs Geoffrey Zakarian, Aarón Sánchez and Alex Guarnaschelli.

“The judges are great,” Petridis said. “They’re very fair. They’re very polite, and they have a lot of courage trying all that food. Their comments were to the point.”

Petridis is originally from a village in the northern part of Greece called Skoutari Serres. She moved to the United States 28 years ago and has been a Bayside resident for 18 years.

Petridis has run Maria’s with her husband, Gary, for seven years now.

“My husband one day decided to open the restaurant,” Petridis said. “And he had the idea to put my name on the awning.”

Petridis said her upbringing in Greece has a profound impact on her cooking.

“It’s familiar food,” Petridis said. “You feel comfortable cooking it because you know it; you grew up with it.”

When Petridis was asked what she suggests customers try, she couldn’t bring herself to single out just one dish.

“Everything is good; I don’t have any favorites,” she said. “I love every single dish I put out on the plate.”

Maria’s Mediterranean Seafood & Grill is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. The restaurant can be reached by phone at 718-279-1606.

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