Saint Louis chef to appear on Food Network’s ‘Chopped’

Arik Cannon Sr., Owner/Executive Chef at AhyPlus Catering, will compete on Food Network’s competitive cooking show “Chopped,”

Online PR News – 21-August-2014 – USA – Courtesy of Food Network

Arik Cannon Sr., Owner/Executive Chef at AhyPlus Catering, will compete on Food Network’s competitive cooking show “Chopped,” which begins filming August 26th and airs December 9th at 10 p.m.

Hosted by Ted Allen, the Food Network show begins with four contestants who compete against each other to cook a three-course meal. The meal must be made using unusual ingredient combinations presented in a mystery basket in timed rounds. At the end of each course, one contestant is “chopped,” resulting in only two contestants left to compete in the final round for the $10,000 prize.

Competing on such a show seems natural for Cannon, who professes an addiction to watching game shows. Having qualified for both “Hell's Kitchen” and "Next Top Chef” before his 25th birthday, he is primed for televised competitions, especially ones that include his passion for cooking.

Twenty-seven year old Cannon’s interest in cooking began at about age seven in his grandmother’s kitchen in North Saint Louis, Missouri, where he grew up. He fondly recalls dragging over a stool to watch her make pot roast, biscuits and smothered potatoes. His first assignments were peeling carrots and stirring chocolate-chip cookie batter.

Despite these early positive experiences in the kitchen, Cannon did not immediately recognize his passion for cooking. He went off to college to work on a dual degree in Business and Marketing . Midway through his coursework, Cannon began to “realize that the world of accounting would lead me to jump off a building somewhere.” He confesses that he found himself writing menus during class and catering from his dorm room. After college, he decided to pursue his passion for cooking.

Courtesy of Food Network

Cannon has been in the industry for six years now, half of that time spent at Cafe du Mondé working with Executive Chef Chris Ulrich, whom he considers his mentor. He defines his cooking style as being reflective of Southern traditions with a modern twist. Of himself, Chef Cannon says, “What separates me from other chefs in the industry is that I’m fearless and can incorporate a wide variety of influences for being such a young age. I appreciate old Southern traditions but can also incorporate… all the molecular gastronomy techniques [and] contemporary plating.”

Chef Cannon believes he has an advantage over other contestants because he was born and raised with southern influence. He says, “We cook with soul down here.” To prepare for the competition, he first studied a list of all previously used mystery basket items looking for patterns and for ingredients that might be used repeatedly. He then brainstormed with mentor Ulrich how he might use unusual ingredients. He also practiced a mystery basket, finding to his surprise that the time passed much more quickly in his practice round than in the actual competition.

Though Cannon is unable to reveal many details about the episode before it airs, we know that two ingredients in the appetizer round include marshmallows and catfish, both of which must be used. The entree round incorporates pork ribs and the dessert basket contains Latin ingredients. The judges for the episode are Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Aaron Sanchez.

Courtesy of Food Network

Cannon commented that the show is designed to keep competitors on edge. For example, contestants are not given a tour of the kitchen prior to filming — save an introduction to a first-aid kit.

And if Cannon wins the $10,000? He says winnings could be used for savings, investing in his catering business or travel to Italy or Spain. His real motivation for competing was to see how his “skills at this point in [his] career measure up against other chefs” and to see where he stands in the industry.

The episode airs December 6th on Food Network at 10 p.m. (EST). Show your support at the episode viewing party at Gollidays Bar & Grill, where it will be played on five flat-screen televisions. The festivities begin at 9 p.m. Call for reservations if your group has seven or more people.

Cheers to St. Louis’s own “Chopped” contestant, Arik Cannon Sr. And good luck!

Golliday's Bar & Grill, 3459 Chippewa St., St. Louis, MO.

– Sarah Turknett writes about Southern and Neighborhood Fare for the AJC Dining Team. She also publishes her own blog, Going Low Carb.