The week Chef Emily Mingrone signed the lease on her restaurant, Tavern on State in New Haven, Food Network came to the space to film footage for her appearance on “Chopped.” The restaurant had not even opened for business yet.
This month, the week of phase one reopening, the episode will air.
“It’s actually really crazy...the intention from the beginning was to gain publicity,” she said. “So fact that it falls so shortly after reopening — I hope it brings attention. I hope it does pay off.”
Aside from boosting business, Mingrone said she decided to audition for “Chopped” as a “personal challenge.” She has appeared on “Guy’s Grocery Games” also on Food Network, and enjoyed it, so when she saw a call out for female chefs in the northeast, she decided to go for it.”
“’Chopped’ has a lot of prestige, so I wanted to give it a shot and show my stuff just to see what it was all about,” she said.
The episode, which airs May 26, is titled “High on the Hog” and has a pork theme. “It was a pork challenge, which based on my background, so it was really exciting, I worked at a butcher shop for a while.”
While she can’t give away the results of the competition, Mingrone said she was please with how she competed.
She plans on watching the show at the restaurant with a few people, and is brainstorming ways to include her customers in the “viewing party” without actually having them at the restaurant. A take-home meal kit is one idea.
Brainstorming for May 20 is also underway at Tavern on State. Mingrone’s idea as of now is to turn the small patio space into a cocktail bar with appetizers and have larger meals available for takeout.
“We’re trying to figure out how to support the community and be there for them, but also make sure we are being financially smart about our decision,” she said about reopening.
She has seen consistent takeout business throughout the shutdown.
“It’s awesome to see the same people that patronize us on a regular basis [ordering takeout],” she said. “We’ve become a neighborhood institution in such a short amount of time.”
This was Mingrone’s goal when she decided to open Tavern on State last June. A Hamden native, coming back to New Haven after working in other parts of the state was like a homecoming for her.
“It seemed right being so close to home,” she said, “I’ve even reconnected with people from high school.”
She wants Tavern on State to be a neighborhood gathering spot for the people of the East Rock section of New Haven; “upscale tavern” is how she describes it. “It’s an old school tavern vibe in a modern climate.”
“Our passion is serving the small community of East Rock,” she said.