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FN Dish is counting down to the Season 3 premiere of Chopped All-Stars by introducing a competitor every day. Sixteen competitors including Food Network and Cooking Channel talent, renowned chefs, Chopped judges and celebrities are competing for a chance to win the title of All-Stars Champion and a $50,000 donation to charity. Watch the premiere on Sunday, April 7, at 9pm/8c and keep coming back to FN Dish for exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes content.
Jeff Mauro won the seventh season of Food Network Star. Before joining Food Network, Jeff used to be an entertainer and comedian in Los Angeles. But the switch in careers hasn’t changed his personality one bit — he’s still just as funny and entertaining when cooking on Sandwich King and while eating his way through various cities on his other show, $24 in 24. But there’s a lot you don’t know about Jeff — for example, he hates cottage cheese and curry. Find out more about him in his Q&A below.
What’s your Achilles’ heel ingredient, one that you hate to work with or encounter in someone else’s dish?
Jeff Mauro: Cottage cheese. I’ve never consumed it, and if I have any control, I’ll keep it that way. Therefore, I wouldn’t feel comfortable preparing it.
What dish or ingredient will we never catch you eating?
JM: Anything with curry in it.
What was your most memorable meal? What, where, who? Details, please.
JM: My 31st birthday dinner with my wife, Sarah, at Chef Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago. Fourteen courses of pure magic. I literally spent a whole paycheck on one meal with wine pairings and I still think about it more than any other meal. Food as theater at its best. The Wagyu course with the A.1. powder was the best thing I’ve ever encountered.
What’s your guilty pleasure food?
JM: Kettle cooked BBQ chips, usually crushed on any sandwich I am eating them with.
Is there one dish that you always order out and never make at home?
JM: Usually pizza. I’ve been known to do a 72-hour cold-rise dough and churn out a couple pizzas on a Sunday, but normally I leave it to the plethora of professionals here in Chicago.
What kitchen tool can you not live without?
JM: My flat-bottomed, square, heavy-duty griddle pan by Scanpan. It’s super heavy, and makes pancakes, eggs and especially sandwiches easily flippable.
If you weren’t in food, what career would you have liked to have tried?
JM: Cage fighting.
What’s your favorite “food city” to visit?
JM: New York City.
What’s your favorite late-night snack?
JM: My wife, Sarah’s, homemade chocolate chip cookies served warm with a scoop of ice cream and whipped cream. Maybe some hot fudge and crushed cashews. Holy crap.
What’s one must-have at your last supper?
JM: Chicago-style thin crust with sausage and a side of pastrami on rye from Fumare Meats.
Who’s your favorite person to cook with?
JM: When he’s behaving and not just dumping out all the salt, my son Lorenzo.
Rapid fire: Think fast!
Ketchup or mustard? Mustard
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Burger or hot dog? Burger
Cream cheese or butter? Butter
Soda or water? Water
Sprinkles or jimmies? Sprinkles
Jeff is competing for the Comer Children’s Hospital.