Tiger wins battle of truck stop chefs on TV’s ‘Chopped’

A former professional wrestler turned truck stop chef won $10,000 on Tuesday night’s episode of the Food Network’s cooking competition show, “Chopped.

J.R. Tiger, who formerly cooked at the TA’s Country Pride restaurant off I-81 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, beat three other truck stop chefs. Each had to create three dishes from the ingredients in the show’s dreaded Mystery Baskets.

Competing against Tiger were:

  • Jay Harbeck, from Iowa 80 in Walcott, Iowa
  • Eva Dix, from the Dixie Truck Stop on Route 66 in McLean, Illinois
  • Shaun “Yaz” Yazbek, from the Dysart’s location in Hermon, Maine

Harbeck lost in the first round, when the four chefs had to create an appetizer from red-eye gravy, fennel, black garlic and meatloaf mix.

Yazbek exited the competition in the entrée round that had the remaining three chefs creating dishes using grits, cola drink, cube steak and purple cauliflower.

Tiger faced Dix in the dessert round, and the ingredients they had to use included French fries, bacon, apple pie and cactus pears.

Dix made what she called “almost cheesecake” while Tiger tempted the judges with cream puffs filled with apple pie-flavored cream and topped with a cactus pear glaze.

A highlight of the competition was Tiger’s use of pancetta, which he deep fried and then grated over his grits.

Judges for the competition, which is hosted by Ted Allen, were Amanda Freitag, Chris Santos and Aaron Sanchez.

The “Truck Stop Stars” episode filmed in New York City last October.

“Chopped” is in its 27th season on the Food Network. New episodes air t 10 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday. Check local listings.