Although she would have preferred a different outcome on her recent appearance on the Food Network show “Chopped,” former Duluth resident Katherine “Kat” Britt was still very pleased with the experience.
“I wanted to do ‘Chopped’ to tell my story and how I came up through the industry,” said Britt. “I really just wanted to do it as a means of showing the general public women encouraging and fostering other women…I felt it was a nod to all my hard work, that someone validated all the hard work and the heart I’ve put into it. It reaffirmed my love for what I do.”
Britt, who for the last three years has worked at the iconic Margot Café & Bar in East Nashville, Tennessee, appeared on the June 18 broadcast of “Chopped,” the long-running reality cooking show that pits four chefs against each other in timed segments for $10,000 in prize money. She was “chopped” — or eliminated — after the first round.
On the June 18 show — which was recorded more than a year ago and was titled “Holy Baloney” — Britt and her opponents had to create an appetizer from a mystery basket of food items, including bologna cake (which combines layers of bologna and cream cheese), tomato soup, celtuce (thick-leaf lettuce) and Cerignola olives. Her dish was a ricotta and bologna tartine with tomato-braised lettuce.
“I wanted to do something outside of the box showing my creativity and ability while the clock is ticking,” said Britt, whose late mother, Suzanne Britt, was a well-known Duluth City Council member and tireless advocate for parks and recreation.
A 2004 graduate of Duluth High School, Britt worked in and outside of the food industry after graduating in 2006 from Johnson & Wales University with an associate’s degree in culinary arts. It wasn’t until she moved to Music City seven years ago — starting at Marché Artisan Foods and then moving over to its sister restaurant Margot Café & Bar — that she began to hit her professional stride.
“It was the best thing I’ve ever done in my career,” said Britt, adding that she’s learned so much from owner Margot McCormack (a 2019 James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Outstanding Chef) and enjoys collaborating with McCormack and chef de cuisine Hadley Long on the menu that changes daily.
“I was green but willing to learn,” said Britt of her arrival at Margot Café & Bar, a Five Points eatery she described as offering “upscale, fine-dining experiences in an old service station.”
“We’re a cohesive team. We’re not just cooking for tourists — we’re also cooking for our friends. We have people who eat here four or five times a week. Margot is a force to be reckoned with and has quite a legacy in this town.”
Due to the nondisclosure clause in her contract, Britt couldn’t tell anyone she’d even been invited to compete on “Chopped” until a few weeks before it aired. And on the evening of the broadcast, she was unable to celebrate with colleagues and friends due to suffering the ill effects of a kidney stone.
“One of the perils of my profession,” she quipped, noting the long days she spends on her feet in front of a fiery trio of flaming surfaces, sometimes so busy she can’t even slow down for a sip of water. “The struggle makes the great things great. Things that are easy are not fun for me.”
She said she was gratified from the feedback she received from the judges on the show and from the responses she received from friends, family, customers, colleagues and even old Duluth High classmates.
“I was floored with the messages and the love and the overwhelming response I got from people from high school to my own family members to my customers, who were sitting in front of their TVs waiting to see me,” she said. “One of our customers saw me and came to the restaurant a few days later with her 98-year-old mother, who said, ‘I saw you on TV!’
“It’s still insane that I did something like this, and if anything positive came of it, it was that it showed people that what happens in your life doesn’t matter— it’s how you make that a driving force for succeeding.”
Britt joked that besides winning, she had several goals for her appearance on “Chopped.”
“My goal was not to cut myself and to plate within the timeframe,” she said. “And I felt if I was able to go farther, that would just be gravy.”