Former Fresnan Alex Lawrence won the top prize on a recent episode of the Food Network show “Chopped.”
Lawrence, who lives in New York and is the administrator of a soup kitchen, won $10,000 in the episode that was titled “Turkey Day Heroes.” Lawrence competed against three other soup kitchen representatives. The episode originally aired on Nov. 14 and will be shown again at 8 p.m. Saturday.
“It was so much fun,” Lawrence says.
The show tested Lawrence’s skills as a cook and as an actor. Growing up in Fresno, he was heavily involved in theater, having attended Bullard TALENT, Roosevelt School of the Arts, Fresno City College and Fresno State.
He performed in many productions, but came to love cooking after working at the then-Fresno Surgery Center.
As part of “Chopped,” Lawrence was sworn to secrecy about the results. Although the episode was taped months ago, he couldn’t tell his parents, husband or friends.
At a party to watch the show, he still kept mum.
“After they found out, they went crazy, really crazy,” he says with a laugh.
Lawrence said he liked the challenge of using ingredients that were unfamiliar to him, like pork pernil, a heavily seasoned pork with crispy skin, or mache, a salad green.
His biggest challenge, though, was making dessert. He admits he isn’t much of a baker, but was somehow inspired to create a black walnut and cherry trifle, a layered dessert using sponge cake.
“I don’t know where that idea came from,” he says. “But it worked.”
Lawrence used his prize money to pay for a trip to Europe with his husband, Cody Andrus, and donated a portion to the program he works for, Trinity’s Services and Food for the Homeless.