Chivalry is Not Chopped

I got the rare chance the other night to watch the Food Network show, Chopped. I have seen the show maybe two or three times. It’s an interesting premise. Professional chefs challenge each other to create something delectable and wildly authentic using the most ridiculous combination of ingredients, in a constrained, high pressure feat of culinary excellence.

Being a mother and generally nice human being, I consider everyone a winner that participates by giving their best effort. I don’t much like that someone is “chopped” in a close race because their radicchio is askew or that they didn’t use enough pastrami in the chocolate mousse.  These professionals who already excel in their fields are made almost pawns in a cruel game of the petty, subjective tastes, of their distinguished judges. Maintaining one’s composure as some pompous, so-called expert sneers and quibbles about the crispness of your crepes, is a feat all in itself. I imagine it takes an iron will not to wield your filet knife and make tongue sausage.

In each episode we get to meet the competitors and hear a little bit about their story. Chef Lance has piqued my attention and is returning after losing a previous show. What intrigued me as he described himself was that he “used” to be a total jerk before he found God, and would not hesitate to walk over anyone in his way. Well, let’s see what the competition brings out, shall we?

In the second round, one of our chefs, Chef Yoanne, was running with a pot of boiling water, not recommended in any kitchen. She slips and douses her legs receiving second degree burns. True to her character however, she does not stop and continues onward to advance to the final round and compete against Chef Lance. For her this competition is about winning so she can take the money and go see her grandmother in the old country.

In this final round, the competitors have to make a dessert out of grasshoppers, squid ink and duck eggs or the like. After each concocts something edible out of such bizarre but apparently gastronomic delights, we are ready to reveal who will be chopped; but not before we get to listen in on the chefs back stage. Chef Yoanne  is saying to Chef Lance that no matter who wins, they are both winners. The long awaited moment has arrived and wha-la Chef Lance has won. With poise, the other chef gives him a hug congratulating him and starts to walk away.

The producers could not have scripted what came next.

Chef Lance thanks the judges and says he did not expect to win and would like to give the $10,000.00 prize money to the other chef so she can go and see her grandmother. Clearly everyone is taken aback and visibly shocked, most especially the recipient of his generous gift.

Here we see a very rare and poignant display of true Christian manhood. Chef Lance is truly what he says he is. He is not about the prize money. He is well grounded in who he is and whose he is. That is satisfaction enough for him. I have to tell you I was surprised to see such an authentic demonstration of generosity…on TV no less.

Will I stay tuned for next week and see what clever culinary cookery the chefs will come up with using wildly exotic ingredients like spider eyes, wild Jamaican oats, and yak honey? I don’t know.

This I do know, it is nice to be amazed, to see real live Christians in various situations quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) going about doing good. Well done, Chef Lance.


Barbara Lishko works full time as a Lay Catholic Marriage Minister. She and her husband Mark, an ordained Deacon, have been married for 35 years and are blessed with five young adult children, whose lives grow and expand through marriage and grandchildren.

Through the inspiration of her family, work in the Catholic Church and wacky life experiences her dream of writing was born. She is the recipient of the Diocese of Phoenix St Terese of Lisieux award. Barbara can be reached at blishko_58@yahoo.com

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