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Roy Ellamar Talks Preparation and More for Chopped

Roy Ellamar from Sensi at the Bellagio plans to hecho en the Chopped kitchen tonight when the show airs tonight at 10 p.m. While the episode already ran Feb. 7, this rerun of the Chopped series comes on the same night as the debut for the new season of the show.

"It's a total level playing field," Ellamar says. "It's all about what you can do on the fly and the best you can do in 30 minutes."

Ellamar appears on the show with three other Vegas chefs including Mike Minor at Border Grill, Saul Ortiz at Tacos & Tequila and Mia Castro, a chef de partie at Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in the episode with a Mexican theme that airs at 10 p.m. Interesting side note, Minor beat Ellamar in the Back of the House Brawl last spring, so there was an additional element of competition for Ellamar.

Here Ellamar talks about working with ingredients such as pigs feet, jicama, culantro and tres leches cake that are featured in the appetizer basket as well as what he did with his winnings on the episode that airs at 10 p.m. tonight.

What did you do to prepare to be on Chopped?
What I did, one of our people in food and beverage put together a schedule of chefs that have to bring a basket for me every day. I got one or two baskets every day with four ingredients. If I was busy, I would do it later. Every day for at least a month I was making a basket a day with a time limit, that way I could feel what 20 minutes feels like and then be completely surprised. My sous chef timed me. You have to try to be as creative as you can with the ingredients.

We have a lot of stuff in our kitchen. Every basket that came up I was leaning toward my Asian flavor profiles. I knew that I was able to do that with a lot of different things. I knew what would work. I had recipes that I could fall back on. I had a strategy going into it.

Did you have any concerns about dessert?
I knew that would have been my weakest one, depending on who the competition is. That's why I practiced three or four recipes to incorporate most ingredients that came across. I thought, "Let's look at for desserts that I can bang out and memorize recipe." A cake, a doughnut, an ice cream — something that I can bang out in 30 minutes. We do all our own desserts [at Sensi]. I didn't want that to intimidate me.

What made you decide to be on the show?
I watch the show a lot. I think, "What would I do with that?" I wanted to see how I stack up against three other chefs in that environment. I wanted to do a show. I didn't want to do a show that would take a lot of time away from the restaurant, though. Chopped is not like Top Chef where you have a huge commitment of time.

What did you think when they told you that Mexican would be the theme?
Two of the other chefs on the show came from Mexican restaurants. I'd spent some time in Mexico, so I wasn't concerned.

Did you second guess any of your dishes?
I didn't second guess it. I did so many practice rounds, I kind of felt this was the shot I had to make it good. I felt confident with every dish. The desserts I felt like I didn't have enough time. I burnt the caramel. You should see what the other girl did.

Any other dreams of being on television?
Not really I think I'm good. If we could do Chopped champions I would go back for that. It's 50 Gs.

I also wanted to do the show to be an inspiration for all the kids back home where I'm from.

Were any of the dishes you made inspired by something you've actually made before?
Actually, the goat dish with potato I've done before. I spent a lot of time in Mexico. I was very comfortable with the dishes. When I saw goat in the basket knew what I was going to do. That was the second course, and I had done takes on it before.

What are you going to do with the $10,000 prize?
I spent already. I took my whole family to France for Bocuse d'Or. We were there for 10 days.
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