Jess Dunne believes in the power of visualization.
The 27-year-old co-owner of Southold’s North Fork Roasting Co. recalled watching Food Network’s Chopped when she was 15 years old and remarking to her father that she had what it takes to compete on the series. It was a dream she harbored while studying pastry making at Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary Arts program and later while working as a chef at the roastery and for Grace and Grit caterers.
Tonight, that vision becomes reality when she appears on the competitive cooking show screened before an audience of her family and friends — as well as the rest of America.
“The process was such a roller coaster, but it was so fun,” she said. “I think that everything happens for a reason and it was totally worth waiting for.”
The show takes four chefs and challenges them to create three dishes — an appetizer, an entrée and dessert — in three rounds, using a list of ingredients that most cooks would not consider pairing.
Although Dunne couldn’t divulge details about how far she went, she did say the episode had a comfort food theme.
“The chefs are asked to carry the comfort food theme onto their completed plates, starting in round one when they must utilize something starchy and something greasy,” reads Food Network’s description of the episode. “A homey protein and some beautiful tomatoes are in the mix in the entree round, then a nostalgic cookie meets a dairy delight in the dessert basket.”
Dunne noted she had been a standby contestant twice before this appearance. Each time she and her fiancé and business partner Jennilee Morris would travel into Manhattan, stay overnight and arrive camera ready the following morning. After the second standby trip, she got the call that she had been officially cast.
“Jenni and I started crying,” she said of receiving the call. “We were so excited.”
Tune in to Food Network’s Chopped tonight, Sept. 19, at 10 p.m.