Irvine chef Shachi Mehra has won the popular Food Network reality cooking show “Chopped.”
If you missed the episode “Ooey, Gooey Cheese,” you can just run down to her fast-casual Indian restaurant ADYA at University Center and meet her yourself.
“Guests are really excited about it,” she says. “They come into the restaurant and say ‘You’re the one who won ‘Chopped!’”
Mehra technically won last spring; that’s when the show was taped. But she wasn’t allowed to tell anyone or even discuss the episode until it aired Sept. 10. When she watched it with family and friends, only she (and her husband, sshhh) knew what was about to happen.
“People were screaming and cheering,” she says. “My husband popped Champagne.”
On “Chopped,” four chefs face off in a Manhattan studio kitchen, making a three-course meal using surprise ingredients, some of which are, let’s just say, challenging. Mehra was saddled with spray cheese and rainbow mozzarella sticks.
“It was way more stressful in person than it looks on TV,” she says, adding that they taped that day for 12 hours.
Mehra grew up in New Jersey, but she was born in India. Her dishes are modern interpretations of Indian street foods,
tandoori specialties and curries. Prior to ADYA, she cooked at Tamarind of London on the Newport Coast.
She and her husband opened ADYA at University Center three years ago and have built a diverse following that includes students, office workers and families.
“That center has so many great things,” she says.
Her “Chopped” win came with a check for $10,000, which she is using to create a line of sauces and write a cookbook.