Dessert, however, doesn’t come as easily to the chef, but that’s the very course that won Fanelli the top prize on Tuesday’s episode of the famed Food Network show “Chopped.”
“What an amazing feeling,” Fanelli told Daily Voice. “It was great for my family to be able to see what it is that I do. No one really knows, I go to work and I come home 13 hours later. So, it was a wonderful sense of accomplishment.”
Fanelli—who lives in Sleepy Hollow with his wife Lisa and two daughters, 6-year-old Antonia and 5-year-old Giovanna—grew up in Elmsford and has been the chef at Manhattan’s Tre Dici since it opened 10 years ago.
After applying to compete on “Chopped” for years, Fanelli was selected as a contestant and began filming in June. The same month he appeared in an episode of the network’s “Kitchen Casino” and won $9,000.
In the Dec. 2 episode of "Chopped," titled “Meatball Maddness,” Fanelli had to compete against other top chefs had to create three meatball courses within 30 minutes each, using ingredients from the mystery basket.
“You see the professionals, the seasoned veterans, and they know exactly what they doing from the time they open that basket,” said Fanelli.
Even when Fanelli opened the basket to find meat and crème brûlée, he knew exactly what to do.
He ground up lamb with goat cheese for a “little zing,” along with a medley of fresh lively herbs for the meatball. Baby leeks and heirloom tomatoes were used as a salad, while the crème brûlée was melted down with pecorino cheese and used as a sauce.
“I wanted to give the judges something they weren’t expecting,” explained Fanelli. “They see an Italian guy and they think you’re going to do something with red sauce.”
For dessert he made fried beignet meat-less balls coated with cinnamon and sugar and served with fried chocolate raviolis and a fruity Grand Marnier sauce.
“My favorite dish was actually where I am weakest, which is dessert,” said Fanelli. “I’m so surprised they came out so well in such a short amount of time. They stood out and were everything they were supposed to be.”
Fanelli hopes being on the show will help bring some exposure to his future endeavor of opening up a restaurant in Westchester with the owner of Tre Dici.
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