Volare Ristorante Chef Joshua Moore recently shared a little Louisville love with a national audience when he went up against three other notable chefs in the Food Network competition show “Chopped.” Of course, he brought home the title of “Chopped Champion” and the winning $10,000 prize.
Moore appeared on Episode 8 of Season 38, which aired Tuesday, Jan. 15, and was titled “Deadly Catch” because each basket of random ingredients featured not only seafood but an item that could be considered a deadly catch. After opening each basket — there are three separate courses, each with their own basket — the contestants have 20 to 30 minutes to come up with a dish that uses all the ingredients plus whatever the chef brought from home and whatever is stocked in the pantry on set.
For the first dish, an appetizer, the contestants were given king crab, kelp jerky and salt water, so Moore created a butter-poached Alaskan king crab over salt water kelp jerky aioli.
For the entrée, they were given striped marlin loin, jellyfish salad, sea beans and cracked freekeh, and Moore quickly went to work creating fennel and peppercorn-rubbed marlin with Sicilian freekeh, a dish he also added some bourbon to, which made the judges giddy.
And lastly, for dessert, they had to work with a hideous blue cake that was in the shape of a tidal wave, Indian blackberries, water caltrops and sea urchin. Moore whipped up a dish he called Tidal Wave Cake Pudding with Water Caltrop Crumble and Sea Urchin Ice Cream.
There was only one time when the judges didn’t care for something Moore created, and that was because he overcooked the marlin in the entrée. Luckily, all the other contestants did the same thing, so while he was docked points for that, so were his competitors.
The judges asked Moore what he’d do with the $10,000 if he won, and being the humble gentlemen he is, his answer included nothing fun or glamorous — renovating his farm and adding a new bathroom for his wife. Insider reached out to Moore after his big win, and we had to ask if this was still the plan, or if a trip to a remote island was added to the itinerary.
“That is still the plan,” says Moore. “I can’t take it back after saying it on national television, right? Although I do get a bit of the beach, too. My dad and I are leaving soon to go down to Costa Rica for a marlin (big coincidence, considering the overcooked marlin would get me on “Chopped”) fishing trip. Hopefully to catch something I can bring back for my Fish Fridays.”
Moore started working in Louisville’s kitchens when he was 14, first serving as a pastry assistant at Vincenzo’s.
“Agostino (Gabriele) would have me chopping chocolate for hours and hours,” he recalls.
He eventually worked his way up the ranks, landing at Volare in 2005. Now he serves as the Frankfort Avenue restaurant’s executive chef and managing partner.
Moore says he’s always been interested in cooking and recalls being more obsessed with cooking shows than cartoons as a kid. It was something he could do alongside both of his grandmothers, so he looks back on those early years in the kitchen fondly.
As far as being a contestant on “Chopped,” Moore says he was approached by producers while they were in Louisville scouting various restaurants in the city. It was a fun experience for him, and although he appeared calm, cool and collected, he was a bit anxious every time he had to open one of those mystery baskets. But once the clock started ticking, Moore went into chef overdrive.
“There wasn’t any more time to be nervous as soon as that basket was opened up,” he says.
And if you’re wondering if the contestants got to keep that fancy blueish-purple chef’s coat from the show, the answer is, sadly, no — “I asked several times,” he admits.
While Moore was basking in the glory of his Food Network victory and before he set out to catch some marlin, we caught up with him to ask some very important questions …
What was your first concert?
Pearl Jam. Probably in the late ’90s. I’m sure I still have a T-shirt packed away somewhere.
What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
I could absolutely talk about my commitment to Certified Angus Beef for 40 minutes. I have been a CAB ambassador chef for over seven years and have traveled with the company to talk beef from Aruba to the CIA in California. The consistency in their product is amazing.
What job would you be terrible at?
Any type of 9-to-5 career would be awful for me. I hate sitting down and crave the high intensity of the kitchen on a busy night. I think most chefs are stress junkies.
What is your favorite restaurant or bar?
My favorite restaurant of 2018 was Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, Maine. We were in and out of town for a wedding and ate there twice in 48 hours. The lobster roll there is something you dream about having again. I even follow them on Instagram to relive the lobster rolls!
What is something you think everyone should do at least once?
Make fresh pasta! I think people are still so intimidated by the process. The taste is just worth getting a little messy in the kitchen.
Where would you direct a newcomer of Louisville to get a feel for the city?
That’s a tough one. Louisville is so spread out, and each area offers something unique and interesting. I think everyone should visit the Derby Museum once, and I think the downtown distilleries are really going to do great things for our tourism. We visited a few while my wife’s family was in town for the “Chopped” viewing and had a really great time.
I would, of course, send them to a ton of restaurants and bars, too.
What keeps you here?
I love the diversity of our city and the fact that, for the most part, we all support one another. It definitely has that little-town feel.