Astoria, Restaurants, Television
Nov 21, 2017

Astoria Chef Nick Testa to Appear on Food Network’s Chopped

Watch Chef Nick Testa (Sweet Afton/The Bonnie) work his magic on the November 28 episode of Food Network’s “Chopped.”

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It’s always nice to see Astoria and Astorians on TV—and you’ll be able to do so soon. Chef Nick Testa (Sweet Afton, The Bonnie) will be on the Food Network’s cooking competition Chopped on Tuesday November 28, 10pm ET/PT. Astoria represent!

Chef Nick Testa

Chef Testa did a lot of prep before the show, too, to get into “fighting shape.” He would practice cooking Blue Apron meals to get them down in under 20 minutes, as well as make up whatever was on his mind, like simple salmon and roast chicken dishes with sides and a green. He tells us about that process, “Every time, I came in right under the wire: 19 minutes 30 seconds,19 minutes 45 seconds. It was all about speed, getting the timing down. Once I did that, I felt really good about it.”

“I also played around with memorizing cake recipes, reading up on ice creams and sherbets,” he recalls. “I hammered down on cookbooks like Jeremy Fox’s On Vegetables, Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook and Stéphane Reynaud’s Pork and Sons, reading about recipes and techniques. I always go back to my Culinary Institute of America textbook for technique. I didn’t go to culinary school, so that was my first cookbook when I was starting to learn how to cook. I thought, “If I can’t go to culinary school, I need to at least go through what they go through at the CIA.”

When it comes to success, nobody does it alone. Chef Testa understands this, so before the competition he reached out to his friend Josh DeChellis, who won Iron Chef (they worked together when he was Rocco DiSpirito’s right hand man). “I said, ‘What advice do you have for me, man?’ And he said, ‘Don’t drink coffee in the morning. I know you’re a coffee drinker, but don’t do it. You’re going to be so amped up that you won’t need that extra caffeine, and you won’t be yourself.’”

However he did rely on music to get him going on the morning of the show. “We had to be at the studio for taping at 5:30am, so I was up at 4:30am. I drove myself into the city, which was really nice. I cranked some tunes—I always listen to classic rock. “Don’t Stop Me Now,” my favorite Queen song, came on, and that definitely hyped me up for the morning.”

And how did he come up with the dishes he prepared on the show? “When I got into the competition, everything came from nostalgia for me: my foundation of cooking things that I first learned immediately popped into my head when I saw the ingredients,” he explains. “I knew within ten seconds of opening the basket what I was going to make. There was never any mind change. I thought, ‘That’s what I’m making, this is what I’m going for. I’m not changing my mind, I’m sticking to it.’”

We are pretty psyched for Chef Testa and the Sweet Afton/The Bonnie family. We look forward to seeing him battle it out and we hope you’ll be watching, too!

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

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