Mel's Kitchen: 'Chopped' Champs

Umbria Street eatery wins two awards from East River Bank.

Besting several local peers in East River Bank's "Chopped Challenge," in Manayunk won two awards for creative cooking Friday.

Using oddball ingredients that the contest required, Chef Michael Hannon crafted Cheerio-encrusted, tempura avocado with peanut-chili sauce.

Held at 's East Falls headquarters, the challenge pitted 10 Roxborough, Manayunk and other area restaurants against each other in dessert and appetizer contests.

Like on the Food Network show, Chopped, chefs are forced to include certain ingredients in meals. Appetizers required Cheerios, avocados, and peanut butter; desserts needed: marshmallow Peeps, instant coffee, carrots, and rice cakes.

Three judges—Danya Henninger (Drink Philly.com), Mark E. Gisi (Tabula Creative Communications) and me (Roxborough-Manayunk Patch), evaluated the entries based on taste, presentation and ingredient incorporation.

Mel's won our polling, but it proved hard to single out just one. Fiorino's tiramisu, carrot cake with Peep ice cream, jerk-chicken flatbread, and Cheerio-encrusted wings with avocado bleu cheese made judging tough. As did entries from , , and Jack's Fire House—among others.

East River Bank extended the contest by offering people's choice polls at local branches, In Roxborough, Mel's Kitchen again came out on top. In East Falls, the Down Home Diner won. 

Bank CEO Christopher McGill presented each winning entry with $100 VISA gift cards. The contest was in conjunction with Community Banking Week—read the original .

Editor's note: An earlier version mistakenly listed the ingredients of the winning entry. It has since been corrected.


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