Glendale residents wait for TV show

Waiting to see who's been "Chopped" are, from left, Glendale residents Susan Hunt, Sharon Townsend Roth and Bill Williams. (Photo by Ruth Sowby / June 12, 2013)

Those in the know found their way to Recess Eatery on June 11. Around 140 hungry patrons sat inside and on the outside patio of the North Brand restaurant. The big occasion was the screening of the Food Network’s “Chopped,” with Recess chef-owner Sevan Abdessian.

As the first Los Angeles resident to win a spot on the show, Abdessian had a built-in audience, members of which were kept in suspense as to whether the chef was the show’s winner of the $10,000 prize.

The action was shown on two large screens — one inside, the other outside — as Abdessian’s episode of the New York-based show aired for the first time on the West Coast. The episode was re-broadcast later that night.

Mystery baskets of ingredients allow each chef to prepare an appetizer, entree and dessert. If a particular course doesn’t fit the bill, that chef is “chopped” from the show. The fun gimmick of the evening at Recess was that Abdessian served the same courses he prepared on “Chopped.”

Glendale residents on the patio enjoying the food, wine and suspense included Steve and Pam Ropfogel, Susan Hunt, Paula Devine, Bill Williams, Paul Lopez and Glendale Healthy Kids’ Sharon Townsend Roth.

This crowd included regulars at Abdessian’s practice dinners for the show last November and December.

Inside the restaurant was hardly a more sedate crowd. Among them was Val Moorhead, whose guests were Bobbi Gangi and Diane Russell.

But on to the food. As customers were enjoying an appetizer of tuna belly, bacon popcorn, black radishes and key lime, the same ingredients were introduced on the show.

Judges (all New York restaurateurs) rated the chefs for preparation, presentation and taste. Abdessian’s efforts were dubbed “beautiful!” He wasn’t “chopped.” So far, so good.

The show’s entree ingredients included leg of lamb, garbanzo beans, spinach and mint. This main course turned out to be Recess customers’ favorite. But did the judges think so? Unfortunately, no. Although his preparation was “masterful,” Abdessian was chopped from the show.

“Boooo!” yelled the restaurant crowd.

Although the screening continued, patrons were more interested in supping and socializing.

Abdessian’s mother, Noemi Abdessian, said, “I’m very proud of what he did.”

The chef’s wife, Tamar Kevonian, looked as if she was also bursting at the seams with pride.

A philosophical Abdessian said of his performance, “What I do best is [offer] taste.”

He had kind words for wife Tamar, Recess’ catering director. “She lets me create. I get to be an artist every day,” he said.

The evening came to a close with the chef’s announcement that he has just been selected for a new show premiering in August, called “Cut Throat Kitchen.”

When asked what he gets out of his participation on the food shows, Abdessian answered, “It puts a fire in me. “I want to do more shows, I want to help Glendale.”



Salvation Army Capts. Rio and Rachel Ray will soon be Glendale’s loss and Alaska’s gain.

The Rays’ new assignment was announced last Thursday at a packed reception at the Salvation Army.

On June 11, city of Glendale representatives presented the Rays with an award representing their five years of service in Glendale.

The Rays’ move represents the Salvation Army’s requirement that its leaders relocate to a new appointment every few years as needs arise. The Rays will help with the Salvation Army’s youth programs in the organization’s Alaska division.

The Rays’ accomplishments in Glendale include producing $340,000 in surplus funds, starting the Kettle kick-off event, which raised $65,000 last year, and expanding the Army’s Christmas assistance from 50 to 1,000 children.

Among some 200 guests were Salvation Army board member and past president Bruce Hinckley, his wife, Debbie, and their granddaughter, 19-month-old Hayden, who came along for the ride while grandma was babysitting.

“We loved it here and appreciated Glendale’s support of the Salvation Army and the city’s caring of others,” said Rachel Ray.

Lts. Joshua and Jessica Sneed will take over as leaders in Glendale on July 3.

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RUTH SOWBY may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.