Chocolatier Phillip Ashley Rix Throws Down on Food Network’s 'Chopped Sweets'

Chocolatier Phillip Ashley Rix Throws Down on Food Network’s 'Chopped Sweets'

The Memphis Artisan Chocolatier fights fire with Vindaloo Bourbon Bonbons

Four meticulous pastry chefs put to the ultimate test … one of them was Memphis’ own Phillip Ashley Rix of Phillip Ashley Chocolates. He was one of competitors on Monday night’s episode of the new Food Network show, “Chopped Sweets.”

His competition was Amber Croom, an executive pastry chef in Baltimore; Justine Pringle Laird, the owner of Nunu Chocolates in New York City; and French pastry chef, Christophe Toury.

Here's how he did.

Photo Credit: Janine Joles

Photo Credit: Kristiana Pinne

Photo Credit: Huzeyfe Turan

Round One: Spicy Chocolate

The chefs had 30 minutes to make a chocolate creation with the mystery basket ingredients of goat vindaloo (a hot and spicy Indian dish), spicy chocolate tequila, hot Italian peppers and a crepe cake.

Showing the creativity that has given Rix the nickname “The Willy Wonka of Chocolate,” Rix used the potatoes in the goat vindaloo to make Vindaloo and Tequila Bonbons.

“Blue cheese, sweet potatoes … you name it, we make exceptional chocolates with it,” he said as he cooked.

Croom’s dish was Vindaloo Pots de Crème using only the sauce from the Indian goat dish. Toury made a Crepe Pudding with a Spicy Tequila Crème Anglaise. Laird created a Chocolate Vindaloo Mousse with a Honeycomb Candy.

As Rix prepared to plate his chocolates, he found that they would not easily release from the mold. Luckily, he had made some empty bonbons so was able to make chocolate cups using the bonbon filling.

“I want to applaud you for trying to get all those flavors in a one-bite bonbon … and you absolutely achieved it,’ said judge Waylynn Lucas.

This chef chopped was Toury. Rix made it to round two.

Photo Credit: Phillip Ashley Chocolates 

Round Two: Salty Chocolate

Round two was the salty chocolate dessert round.

The mystery basket ingredients were salty fingers, chocolate lips, fish sauce and chanterelle mushrooms. The chefs were given 45 minutes to create a salty chocolate dessert.

Croom decided to make a Fish Sauce Chocolate Cream with Chanterelle and Salty Finger Paris-Brest. Laird, Chocolate-Covered Toffee with Chanterelle Mushroom and Fish Sauce. Rix’s creation was a Chanterelle and Chocolate Bread Pudding.

As he was slicing the bread, he cut his finger. After being patched up, he diced chocolate lips into pieces and added them to the bread pudding, saying they would be like chocolate chips. He then added another level of flavor to the dish by sautéing the mushrooms with smoky bacon. A caramel dulce de leche sauce with salty finger-infused cream, fish sauce and bourbon added the finishing touch to his bread pudding.

“Your bread pudding is rich and has flavor to it,” said Lucas. Both judges — Lucas and Thiago Silva — wished there was more fish sauce in the sauce.

Laird was the chef who hit the chopping block. Rix moved on to the finals.

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Round Three: Sour Chocolate

In the final round, Rix and Croom were challenged to make a sour chocolate dessert using tamarind paste, pink grapefruit, sourdough bread and chocolate pizza. The clock was set for 60 minutes.

Croom said she loved sweet and sour as well as cake and ice cream as she described her Dark Chocolate Cake with Tamarind Cream Cheese Frosting and Pink Grapefruit Sherbet.

“I want to end this competition with a fully composed chocolate bonbon,” Rix said of his Tamarind Grapefruit Sourdough Bonbon. He also made a pâté with the same flavors to give the judges more chocolate on their plate.

“You absolutely nailed this,” said Lucas.

Photo Credit: Phillip Ashley Cho

Photo Credit: John Doe

Photo Credit: John Doe

The Final Verdict

As the judges deliberated, they said they had two top competitors. One of their biggest complaints about Rix was that in the first round, they were only given one bite.

In the end, the final dish on the chopping block was Rix’s.

“I would love to come back for redemption,” he said at the close of the show.

After the airing, he reiterated that wish, “I can’t get that close to winning and not try again.”

We can’t help but wonder if any of the show’s odd ingredients will find their way into the chocolates at his shop.

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