Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped
Rabbi Hanoch Hecht just made television history; but, unfortunately, he couldn’t have his rugelach and eat it too.
Hecht became the first rabbi to compete on the hit show “Chopped,” where contestants are forced to use four random ingredients in their recipes, and have 20-30 minutes to create an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. A contestant is eliminated after each round.
Hecht, 32, said that while the dishes and utensils were new, the kitchen was not kosher, so he couldn’t taste any of his food. He said he wasn’t worried about having a disadvantage of not being able to taste his food. “Taste is only one of our senses,” he said. “You have to use your other senses.” On the episode, he asked a competitor to taste his food for him, and she said his food needed more salt.
He was praised for his salmon stew, and made it to the final round, where he used the center of hamentashen as a filling for rugelach. He lost in that final round.
“I feel like I won,” Hecht said in an interview at the Edison Ballroom in Manhattan where he hosted a viewing party. “I think I represented [myself] very nicely. I hope I inspired people to keep kosher and begin that journey.”
Hecht competed against Christian clergy members. And while the Chabad emissary to Rhinebeck, New York, doesn’t have a TV at home, he watched the show online to see the format.
While some crack under the pressure of the show and forget to put ingredients on the plate, Hecht joked around and sang during the competition. “I am not a nervous individual,” he said. “I love pressure.”
Neither judge Geoffrey Zakarian nor host Tim Allen could pronounce the rabbi’s named, saying “hanok” instead of the ‘ch’ sound for Hanoch. Another judge was able to pronounce it.
Had he won, he would have donated the money to buy toys for hospitalized children.
Hecht hopes his presence on the show demonstrates that cooking is not only a job for women.“Husbands can do a lot,” he said. “Helping for Shabbat and chagim brings it to a different level.” His wife, Tsivie, said she didn’t know how to cook when they were married.
“My husband taught me to cook,” she said. “I could make an egg or some pasta.”