Silver Diner co-owner conquers ‘Chopped’

WASHINGTON — Chef Ype von Hengst, executive chef and co-owner of Silver Diner and Silver, won Food Network’s “Chopped” contest Feb. 14, beating out three other chefs in a three-course cook-off themed Blue Plate Fare.

Von Hengst survived the first two cuts and emerged as the winner with his dessert round entry of fig beignets with fig and ginger ice cream.

“Chopped” challenges chefs to come up with dishes based on ingredients in “secret baskets” they are presented. According to von Hengst, there is nothing fake about the show’s premise that the chefs have no idea up front what they’ll be getting.

“It’s a surprise. A total surprise. You have no idea what’s coming up,” von Hengst told WTOP, who said it took a 16 hour day, starting at 5:30 a.m., to shoot the episode.

How do you prepare for the unknown?

“I had a whole plan for appetizers, a main course and dessert. I had five or six different formulas in my mind knowing that if they’re going to throw this at me or that at me I’m going to make this or that,” von Hengst said.

“Every time I opened my basket there was really nothing in there that I said, ‘I cannot put this in one of my formulas,'” he said.

Von Hengst won a $10,000 prize, which is donated to Doctors Without Borders.

His Silver restaurant at 7150 Woodmont Avenue, in Bethesda, will feature his winning beignets with fig and ginger ice cream dessert on the menu from Feb. 21 through March 12.

Von Hengst competed against Arleen Harkins, executive chef at The Historic Village Diner in Red Hook, New York; Nonna Riekert, chef at The Pop Shop Cafe and Creamery in Collinswood, New Jersey; and Mike Perseo, executive chef at Standard Diner in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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