Astoria chef slices and dices his way to victory on popular Food Network show ‘Chopped’

Photo via twitter.com/Poulme1Nicholas

An Astoria chef at a popular Greek restaurant emerged victorious on a recent episode of Food Network’s “Chopped.”

Nicholas Poulmentis, the executive chef and co-owner of Akrotiri Seafood Taverna, located at 29-20 30th Ave., was one of the four contestants on the episode, which aired at 9 p.m. on July 3.

The chef’s appetizer, entree and dessert carried him through each round of the competition to ultimately win the $10,000 prize. On the episode, Poulmentis told the judges, Marc Murphy, Alex Guarnaschelli and Martha Stewart, that if he won, he would use the prize money to travel to Greece with his family.

When QNS spoke to Poulmentis before the show aired, he said that he was “super excited” for Tuesday’s show, and relieved that the wait was finally over. The chef said that it was hard to keep his participation in the show a secret from his family and friends.

According to Poulmentis, once chosen to appear on “Chopped,” the production team does not allow contestants to talk about their participation during the filming process.

“My daughter lost her mind,” said the chef after he told his family he was going to be on the show. “I was super happy because it’s all about her and the kids.”

The husband and father of two came to Astoria from the island of Kythira in Greece six years ago, after his country was undergoing economic hardships, as previously reported by QNS. Growing up, the chef worked in restaurants and received his culinary education in Anavysos culinary school in Greece and Le Cordin Bleu in Paris. To date, the chef and Michelin Star winner has had over 25 years of experience in the industry, including his nearly four months at Akrotiri.

One reason the chef gave for wanting to participate in “Chopped” was to push his limits and see what he could produce with ingredients given to him on the spot.

“It’s a difficult show, and I understood how difficult it is, but I felt I needed to see my power,” he said.

The chef said also wanted to test his English skills, in addition to testing his culinary prowess. Poulmentis recalls being afraid he would not be accepted because “everyone was speaking fluent English” on the show’s set. He added that the show would be “big exposure” for himself and the restaurant whether or not he won.

“It was a beautiful process. I’m grateful that I had the ability to do the show,” Poulmentis said.

Poulmentis and Chris Kouvaros opened Akrotiri Seafood Taverna back in March. “Akrotiri” comes from an ancient Greek city on Santorini that was buried in volcanic ash. The restaurant’s menu features “inventive riffs on classic Greek fare” including Htapodokeftedes, which are breadless octopus croquettes with parsley sauce and seared scallops with squid ink linguine pasta in a white saffron emulsion known as Htenia. They also offer natural wines from using indigenous grapes from various Greek regions.

Poulmentis mentioned that the entree that he made on the show will also be served in his restaurant as a special after the episode airs, and will be announced on the restaurant’s website.

Click here to watch the “Chopped” episode online.

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