A Bayside chef has earned the title of “Chopped Champion.”
Chef Maria Petridis of Maria’s Mediterranean Seafood & Grill at 38-11 Bell Blvd. faced the chopping block with three other chefs — two from neighboring boroughs Brooklyn and Manhattan — and came out the victor in the popular television cooking competition “Chopped.” The episode aired on Dec. 27.
The series is a fast-paced contest that pits four chefs against each other in a three-round, timed contest. Each round, chefs are presented with a unique basket containing four unusual mystery ingredients and are expected to use all of them in their dish in some way. One chef is eliminated at the end of each round and the last chef standing receives a $10,000 prize and title of “Chopped Champion.”
“I don’t think Maria knows how good she is,” competitor and fellow chef Brendan Neville said to cameras during the second round.
Judges in the episode were chefs and restaurateurs Geoffrey Zakarian, Mark Murphy and Dale Talde.
Petridis often utilized her Greek roots as inspiration for her creations. She was delighted to discover branzino — a European sea bass served often in her restaurant — in the first round basket, and used basket items lamb couscous, white eggplant, Gorgonzola dolce and chewy cinnamon candies in the entree round to create a stuffed eggplant dish.
In the final round, Petridis again called upon her heritage when she used the unusual basket combination grape leaves, wild blueberries, cherry gel candy and tahini ice cream to create a twist on baklava — a Greek dessert favorite.
Zakarian, an especially rigorous judge who frequently appears on the series, finished his entire serving of the dessert and suggested Petridis put the creation, in some form, on the menu in her restaurant.
During the episode, Petridis said she would donate her winnings to the Make-A-Wish Foundation because her dream — owning her own restaurant — already came true.
“Everybody that feels that they’re not capable of chasing their dreams are wrong,” Petridis said to cameras after discovering she was deemed Chopped Champion.
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.