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Local chef competes on Food Network

Crumb Bar owner Kaylee Klein recently competed on an episode of the Food Network's "Chopped Sweets" television show. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
September 24, 2020
LITTLETON — Chef Kaylee Klein of Littleton's Crumb Bar, appeared on an episode of "Chopped Sweets" featured on the Food Network. Although filming occurred in March, she couldn't go public on any details until after it aired on Sept. 1.

"Chopped Sweets" is the latest in a long series of competitive cooking shows that run on the popular Food Network. Each episode features four competitors and four rounds. Participants are given a different basket of surprise ingredients for each round and have a set amount of time to present a completed dish. The baskets will often contain seemingly impossible ingredients that the competitors must work into their final dishes. For Klein, it was tarantulas.

"In one of the advanced interviews, they asked if there was anything we would be uncomfortable working with and I told them anything was cool except spiders. I'm terrified of spiders. I imagined the other guy also said the same thing, so they had two people who hated spiders. I didn't even know they were edible," said Klein.

The accomplished pastry chef said representatives from the Food Network reached out to her at the beginning of the year. Her name came across their radar after her Main Street bakery won a Best Bakery Award from New Hampshire Magazine.

Filming occurred in NYC in early March, just before the pandemic shut down the city. Although she was cut after the first round of competition, Klein said the process took approximately four hours to film.

"It was really stressful. I've never experienced anything like a television show before. I had no interest in putting myself out there like that, but you do it when they reach out. It was a big operation with 80 people. It was wildly impressive," added Klein.

The Crumb Bar owner had to create a dessert that utilized tarantula spiders, apples, nutmeg and rhubarb. She made a tarantula, nutmeg and vanilla bean panna cotta with a toasted pistachio and caramel mousse and an apple-rhubarb compote.

Klein was eliminated by judges Maneet Chauhan and John Kanell in the first round because her dish did not set in time. However, celebrity chef and restaurateur Chauhan emphasized how delicious the dessert tasted. Ironically, Klein said she had once consulted for Chauhan at her famous Nashville restaurant, the Chauhan Ale and Masala House.

"It was not comfortable to work under that kind of pressure. I'm the kind of person who is always working in the back of the restaurant, thinking about stuff and organizing," noted the Crumb Bar owner.

Klein indicated that the Crumb Bar planned to resume indoor seating by October. Although she wouldn't provide details, she said big plans were in the works with more expansions looming. The Crumb Bar is currently open by pick-up window only on Thursday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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