Silver Diner Chef Wins Food Network’s Chopped Competition
Ype Von Hengst plans to donate $10,000 prize to Doctors Without Borders
Ype Von Hengst
For Silver Diner co-founder Ype Von Hengst, winning the competition on Tuesday night’s episode of the Food Network’s Chopped cooking show was as easy as whipping up Philly-style ice cream with a side of fig fritters in just 30 minutes.
That dessert sealed the victory for the 66-year-old executive chef of the local diner chain and the American-style brasserie Silver in Bethesda. The long-running show requires chefs to produce three courses—an appetizer, entrée and dessert—under tight time constraints and using a variety of mystery ingredients.
Throughout the hour-long episode featuring four diner chefs, Von Hengst remained calm and cool as he quickly produced dishes from such unusual ingredients as marionberry jam and deep-fried deviled eggs.
With just 20 minutes on the clock, Von Hengst transformed the jam, a BLT sandwich, string beans and Disco fries—a concoction of fried potatoes, cheese and gravy—into an appetizer of panzanella salad with a Disco fries puree.
“That was a quick 20 minutes,” he said as he stepped away from the food preparation table at the end of the allotted time. When show host Ted Allen asked the chef why he would put himself through the stressful competition, he responded, “I love the challenge.”
For the final round, Von Hengst and Executive Chef Tom Perseo of the Standard Diner in New Mexico were required to produce a dessert in 30 minutes using cheesecake, a cup of coffee with cream, variegated figs and coconut arancini. As the clock wound down, Von Hengst surveyed his bowl of ice cream surrounded on a plate by fig fritters and a serving of coffee-style molasses sauce.
"This is it. This is a $10,000 check," the chef said.
Turns out he was right.
Noting the success he has had in his culinary career, Von Hengst, said he would use his winnings to "pay it forward" by donating the $10,000 check to the nonprofit humanitarian group, Doctors Without Borders. A spokesman for Von Hengst said Wednesday the chef will match the winnings for a total donation of $20,000.
When asked what comes next after becoming a Chopped champion, Von Hengst said he has no plans to slow down.
“I’m not stopping at 66,” Von Hengst said. “At 106, I’ll think about it, but not now.”