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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Justin Burdett faces the chopping block tonight

Justin-Burdett-chopped.jpg
  • Courtesy Miller Union

Justin Burdett, chef de cuisine of Miller Union, is joining the select group of Atlanta chefs to achieve Food Network fame. Well, kind of. Burdett will be a contestant on the cooking series Chopped tonight at 10 p.m. His appearance probably won't catapult him to Richard Blais-like celebrity, but it should be fun to watch.

The show is a test of creativity and skill, and when Burdett heard about the opportunity to compete, he submitted a video of himself, describing his passion for using local ingredients to create homemade Southern cuisine. The producers liked it and invited him onto the show.

If you've never seen it, Chopped pits four chefs against one another to create three courses: appetizer, entree and dessert. For each course, the contestants are given baskets filled with four ingredients that, together, make the least sense possible (for instance: blueberries, bread & butter pickles, saffron, and fruit loops. Gross.) They have 30 minutes to use all the ingredients in their dish, and then are critiqued and, one by one, eliminated by a panel of judges.

It might seem like Burdett is a little out of his element - his cooking at Miller Union, where he's worked since the restaurant opened in 2009, is far more traditional than weird. But he's actually had some experience with unconventional cuisine. He appeared on a 2009 episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, sharing dishes made with Appalachian-native mushrooms. That can't hurt his chances.

Burdett joins two other Atlanta chefs who have competed on Chopped: Sean Telo in January 2011 and Jeffrey Gardner in February. Neither have escaped the "chopping block' to win the $10,000 prize. Let's hope Burdett can be the first!

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