TV dinners

Houston pitmaster feels the heat in new season of Chopped Grill Masters

Houston chef feels the heat in new season of Chopped Grill Masters

Chopped Grill Masters Ted Allen
Host Ted Allen is welcoming a Houston pitmaster to the kitchen for the latest season of Chopped Grill Masters. Food Network

We all know that the best barbecue comes from the Lone Star State, but now Texas' seasoned pitmasters will have the chance to prove it. In the new season of Chopped Grill Masters, debuting July 31, four Texas favorites will duke it out with chefs from Kansas City, Missouri; North Carolina; and Memphis, Tennessee, for bragging rights — and a $50,000 grand prize.

Where previous editions of the spin-off series have matched up contestants regardless of geography, this season introduces a new twist by pitting each of the state’s contestants against each other to determine the best of the best. Once the winner of each heat is decided, they will compete against the other on the August 28 finale for the final fat check.

The Texas episode, airing on August 21, features H-Town representative Sloan Rinaldi of Kingwood’s all-woman pop-up barbecue company, The Q Joint. Rinaldi will jump into the fire with Leonard Botello, owner of Brenham’s Truth BBQ. Joining the Texans are two of San Antonio’s brightest. Carlo Casonova of KG Cookers BBQ, a competition barbecue team and catering company, joins Esaul Ramos of the acclaimed 2M Smokehouse in an attempt to bring glory home to Alamo City.  

As in the main series, each chef will battle in three timed rounds to create an appetizer, entree, and dessert. The hectic pace of the show may prove to be a breaking point for some of the pitmasters. Unlike the show’s usual competitors, many of this year’s contestants come from the barbecue competition circuit and are used to a much more leisurely pace of cooking than the Chopped kitchen allows.

And, of course, there is the challenge of the mystery basket. The Food Network teases that the Texas pitmasters will be blessed with an “iconic Texas meat” in the second round, but they will have to think far outside of brisket. The first round’s basket will include a “creepy, crawly, crunchy surprise” and the second will force the contestants to incorporate a "state fair treat."

The series saved the best for last, so you’ll have to wait a few episodes to cheer on the hometown heroes. The Texas episode debuts at 8 pm on August 21, the week before the finale.