Odessa chef wins on Food Network's Chopped

Odessa chef wins on Food Network’s Chopped

Alejandro Barrientos, chef and owner at Curb Side Bistro in Odessa, recently outcooked three other professional chefs to win the Food Network’s Chopped competition. And in the episode that aired Tuesday, April 4, the popular chef made it a point to share the national spotlight with his beloved West Texas.

Appearing in an episode titled “Fry of the Beholder,”  Chef Barrientos earned $10,000 for winning the competition, which he says will support a new nonprofit he and his wife have started to provide free meals for the local community.

“It’s a huge honor to take this win back to West Texas,” Chef Barrientos said. “It proves that when you put your heart to something, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.”

In Chopped, Chef Barrientos was among four professional chefs who were required to include something fried in each of three dishes they needed to create — an appetizer, an entree and a dessert. Chefs are not provided advance notice of ingredients with which they must work.

Chef Barrientos declared at the onset the competition: “Everything has to come out GBD — golden, brown and delicious.”

That statement turned out to be a foreshadow.

Chef Barrientos’ winning dishes included the West Texas Oyster Rockefeller with pecorino cheese, heavy cream and dill (appetizer); the Pork Discada Taco with nopales salsa and a fried tortilla with almond milk crema (entree); and the Nana Fritters with snack cake milk, a strawberry mint gastrique and crispy chicken skin (dessert).

Perhaps the highlight of the episode is when judges bit into Chef Barrientos’ tacos, causing audible crunches.

“That’s what I want to hear right there,” the chef said excitedly. “That’s what I want to hear.”

Chef Barrientos certainly didn’t want to screw up the entree, since nopales was among the supplied ingredients.

“If I go home because of nopales, my mom will not let me go back home,” Chef Barrientos quipped. “My mom cooked with nopales, my grandma cooked with nopales, my tias cooked with nopales. I definitely know I can make an amazing taco, especially highlighting the cactus.”

The Chopped judges praised Barrientos’ skill and creativity. Meanwhile, a humble Barrientos praised his community for believing in him.

“The community in West Texas will give us the shirt off their back if you need it,” he said.

Chef Barrientos expressed pride from coming from a relatively small town, where “we started from like a six-foot folding table, and a food truck, and then two food trucks and a brick-and-mortar [restaurant].” Winning the competition “is going to show everybody in my area you can follow your passion and do what you love.”

With the new nonprofit, Barrientos hopes to give back to the community that has given so much to him. His $10,000 prize for winning the Chopped competition will be used for food, supplies, and “anything I would need to supply the community with free meals.”