During her Food Network debut, Keene native Sherry Hughes was “chopped” in Tuesday night’s episode.
Hughes was featured on the annual “Thanksgiving Heroes” episode of “Chopped,” which celebrates chefs who serve their communities, and was sent home during the entree round.
The show challenges four chefs to prepare a timed appetizer, entree and dessert using ingredients unknown to them before they start cooking, regardless of how unlikely they are. The winner, picked by a panelist of celebrity judges, receives $10,000.
For the entree, contestants had to include turkey cutlets, sweet potato leaves, candy corn and blue-foot mushrooms.
Hughes put together candy-corn sweet potatoes — which have a similar taste to when marshmallows are baked on top — and pan-seared turkey cutlets. On the side, she had the mushrooms served with deep-fried sweet potato leaves.
And while the judges complimented her simplicity, they were yearning for a sauce on the turkey. This, ultimately, sent her home.
“I should’ve made a damn sauce!” Hughes said Wednesday morning. “I tried to make a sauce, but I was missing an ingredient ... I definitely deserved to be chopped there.”
Hughes is the kitchen manager and chef at Women’s Lunch Place in Boston, which provides free meals, medical care, clothing and shelter to women in need.
Unlike at a traditional community kitchen, where meals are served through a line, Hughes said the shelter provides a sit-down restaurant setting for its patrons.
Meals are served on real china, with fresh flowers on each table, and Hughes noted she makes sure the food looks appetizing.
And though she didn’t win Tuesday’s episode, she was still able to secure publicity and a donation to her work. She also received a personal check for $500.
“I didn’t feel great afterward back when I filmed it; I felt kind of sad,” Hughes said, “but I watched it last night, and I feel like I represented Women’s Lunch Place really well.”
Hughes, a former editor and food columnist for The Sentinel, now lives in Fitchburg, Mass.