NYACK, N.Y. -- Tara Ciannella is ready to chop up the competition.
The Nyack chef, who runs her own private catering company, Tara's Italian Cucina , will be appearing on "Chopped" on Food Network at 9 p.m.
On "Chopped," contestants attempt to make a meal out of a potpourri of ingredients that are graded by three judges.
In each episode, four chefs compete in a three-round contest, where they attempt to incorporate unusual combinations of ingredients into dishes that are later evaluated by a panel of three judges
Ciannella previously worked in the fashion industry. But a car accident caused a serious brain injury that impaired her memory. While she was recovering, Ciannella realized how much she loved cooking and decided to pursue a new career path. She is fully recovered from the accident.
"This is the love of my life," Ciannella said.
Getting on "Chopped" was no easy feat. After applying for the show, Ciannella did a phone interview and an in-person interview. Even then, she was a standby for three episodes before finally getting on the show. Ciannella thinks her story helped win over producers.
Appearing on the show was nervewracking and exhilarating for Ciannella, but she said she had a great time. Ciannella had to appear at the studio in New York City at 5:30 a.m. and tapings can last 14 hours.
"I felt like my stomach was in my throat," Ciannella said. "But it was exhilarating. The other contestants were like family. We made it a really nice event."
Even though she only had 11 days to prepare, Ciannella said she felt confident about how she would do.
"I know how to cook and I can cook good food," Ciannella said.
Ciannella's catering company specializes in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, combing her Italian background with her training in a Greek restaurant. A mom, Ciannella decided to go into private catering so she could spend more time with her kid.
"I've always loved the cuisine and the flavors it brings," Ciannella said. "I love to grow my own food."
A viewing party will be held at The Brickhouse in Nyack. Ciannella said she is thrilled to be able to watch the show with her friends and family.
"They're just so overjoyed and so happy for me," Ciannella said. "They keep telling me how hard I've worked and that I deserve it."
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