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Herb Hand Gets 'Chopped' on National Television

by on June 11, 2014 11:50 AM

The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife -- and Herb Hand was slicing and dicing with the best of them.

The Penn State assistant football coach (and well-known foodie) played a starring role in an episode of the cooking reality show "Chopped" which aired on the Food Network Tuesday night.

Four men took part in the competition in a nod to Father's Day. In the opening segment, the announcer asks, "It's Father's Day on Chopped. They may be the kings in their castle but which of these dads will be crowned Chopped champion?"

The contestants competed in three rounds. They had to whip up an appetizer, an entree and a dessert -- using mystery ingredients, imagination and their culinary skills to wow a panel of judges.

The show was taped while Hand was still coaching at Vanderbilt, so it was missing that Penn State flavor. But it was a fascinating look at the offensive line coach's off-the-field personality.

Hand was shown working with his football players and at home with his three kids. "When you're working with offensive linemen," he said, "I have about five different ways to motivate and teach them and it's no different in the kitchen with my kids."

Not surprisingly, Hand's game plan was to "dominate" the kitchen competition.

In the appetizer round the contestants had just 20 minutes to create a masterpiece using a combination of the following four ingredients:

  • Salt and vinegar potato chips
  • Dover sole filets
  • Red russian kale
  • Sour cream

"Competition is my life" said Hand, but he also showed a compassionate side, sharing some bacon with one of the other contestants. "Who am I to hog another man's bacon?" he deadpanned.

Hand's creation was a potato chip-crusted Dover sole with bacon and garlic kale. The judges proclaimed Hand's offering, "perfectly seasoned" and "very good" (although he was flagged for burning the garlic).

It was good enough to propel Hand into the second round where he had to cook dinner using single malt scotch, lamb porterhouse, rapini (a green) and tamarind paste.

Hand was well-prepared and said he's used tamarind paste (whatever that is) before. He went to work on an asian-inspired dish he called pan-seared lamb with Thai peanut sauce. Hand served his dish over a bed of rice noodles.

The judges liked Hand's unique vision, but called the result "unfinished" and even though the meat was "perfectly cooked" Hand was penalized for a poor presentation.

Yes, he was "Chopped."

Afterwards Hand said, "As a competitor you always want to be associated with the word 'champion' but when the defeats come you got to know how to manage that. I know my children are going to learn from that and I know they'll be proud of what I did today."

Getting chopped saved Hand from having to compete in the final round. The remaining two contestants had to whip up dessert using chocolate cigars, pretzels, cocktail nuts and rice pudding.

Chef Hand certainly gave it a good shot but in the kitchen (as in football) not every effort produces a win.

However, the show did produce some lively banter on social media.



Steve Bauer was the Managing Editor of Steve and his wife Trina are longtime area residents. They reside in State College along with a wacky Golden Retriever named Izzy.
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