UPDATE: Chef Alex Padilla Of The Original Ninfa’s Wins National “The Chew” Competition In NYC
Updated, 2/22/2018, 3:34 p.m.: Padilla won the final round of the competition with a ribeye bruschetta on butter-fried toast topped with fennel and asparagus salad and a citrus dijon vinaigrette. He beat out a cod dish made by fellow finalist Jonathan Dearden of Radiator in Washington D.C. According to a press release, Padilla plans to donate the $1,000 cash prize to a charity that fights cancer in children. The bragging rights, though, as well as a trophy are his to keep for a lifetime.
After winning the regional “Best Chef On The Block” competition sponsored by the ABC talk show “The Chew,” executive chef Alex Padilla of The Original Ninfa’s On Navigation advanced to the national finals in New York. The final round is being televised on Thursday, February 22 at noon Central Time.
For today’s semifinals, chefs were divided into “West Coast” and “East Coast.” Padilla was categorized as a West Coast chef. Celebrity judges Gail Simmons of “Top Chef” and Food & Wine, and Buddy Valastro of “Cake Boss” and Carlo’s Bakery judged one dish from each chef. Scoring was based on taste, execution and originality.
Padilla beat chefs from Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta with his Fajita Burger made with outside skirt steak, grilled onions, poblano peppers, avocado, chipotle mayo and Oaxaca cheese.
To win the final round, he will have to make a more impressive “on the fly” dish than Washington D.C. chef Jonathan Dearden of Radiator.
Padilla and Dearden will only have 20 minutes to do all the preparation and cooking needed for a finished dish. The judges for the final round are Laila Ali (boxer, cook and daughter of Mohammad Ali) and chef Michael Lomonaco of PorterHouse New York. The winning chef receives a trophy, $1,000 and the chance to demonstrate a favorite recipe on “The Chew” on Friday, Feb. 23.
The co-hosts of “The Chew” are Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly and Carla Hall. (Chef and restaurant owner Mario Batali is no longer a co-host. ABC fired him after sexual harassment allegations were made public.)
The competition is a rare slice of national attention for Padilla, a chef who has long been a steward of one of Houston’s most iconic restaurants. We’ll update this story tomorrow with the competition results.