Brookdale Community College is abuzz with pride as one of its alums, now Culinary Arts Instructor Arielle Brown, soared through the ranks of culinary competition to reach the final round of the TV show “Chopped.” Displaying exceptional talent and grit, Brown’s journey from the Brookdale kitchen to the national stage is nothing short of inspirational.

Brown’s journey into the culinary arts was sparked by an intense passion for food, nurtured during her travels across Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Israel. After returning from her adventures, she enrolled in the culinary program at Brookdale. But the story does not end there—opportunities knocked in unexpected ways.

Brown has been featured twice on Food Network Shows. She first ventured into televised cooking competitions with Guy’s Grocery Games (the GGG experience) when her talent on Instagram caught the eye of producers. The experience of competing in California ignited a newfound ambition in Brown, prompting her to seek out further challenges and apply for a spot on “Chopped.”

“My style of cooking is local, seasonal, and basically anything you can get at a farmer’s market,” she said in her introduction on the show. Brown has worked at a Japanese and French restaurant and as a pastry assistant at a David Burke restaurant.

Competing on Chopped, in an episode titled “Neck and Neck” due to the ostrich neck ingredient challenge, tested all the skills perfected at Brookdale and beyond.   Arielle Brown preparing a dish on the show Chopped

“Don’t mess with the Jersey girl. I’ve come to win,” she said, talking to herself during the first round while making the appetizer.

Faced with the daunting task of cooking a tough, unfamiliar ostrich neck, Brown leaned into her culinary education and creativity. By focusing on their strengths and the techniques learned at Brookdale—braising meats, making polenta, and understanding the components of a succotash—she crafted a dish that took her into the final round. This decision was pivotal, demonstrating culinary skills and critical problem-solving under pressure—a skill essential in the kitchen and it advanced her into the final round.

“I think you were very intelligent with how you used all of your basket ingredients,” said Fariyal Abdullahi, judge and executive chef. “Using the ostrich neck bone in the chicken broth was very cerebral. I love that you did that. You used two of the ingredients in two ways. You used the carrot tops in the chimichurri, and you used them as a succotash. And even the chicken pot pies you used in two ways as well. This speaks to your skill level.”

“I thought Arielle did a great thing on her dish, the way that the polenta was married to her carrot top chimichurri,” said Marc Murphy, judge, chef, and restaurateur. “Ah what a great bite!”

The shooting day for “Chopped” in New York City was an intense and surreal experience that spanned over 16 hours, including travel time to and from the city. It all began the day before the competition when she drove into Brooklyn to prepare a dish for her introduction to the show, followed by a photo shoot, and the actual competition day started at the crack of dawn. Upon arrival, Brown and the other contestants were ushered into a holding room. The atmosphere was charged with nervous energy as the four chefs awaited the start of the competition. Despite the initial awkwardness, they began sharing their experiences and backgrounds. Among them were chefs with towering egos, flaunting their achievements, and others who were more reserved, creating a diverse mix of personalities.

As the competition unfolded, with rounds punctuated by eliminations and breaks, they were sequestered between segments, offering them time to reflect on the proceedings and bond over shared experiences. During these intervals, Brown got to know Davante Burnley and Rain Grey, Brown’s competitors in the entree round, who would become friends beyond the show. Davante edged Brown out in the final round.Arielle Brown on Chopped. In line with other chefs in competition.

“My education definitely helped with the techniques that I was using on the show,” said Brown.

Exhausted but fulfilled, Brown returned home after what felt like an endless day, only to resume her regular work routine the next morning. “Walking into work after such an adrenaline-packed experience felt almost dreamlike,” she said. This is a testament to the surreal and unforgettable adventure “Chopped” presented.

But the journey does not stop at “Chopped.” Inspired by her experiences, Brown has embraced a new role: educator. As an Executive Pastry Chef, Brown has embarked on a teaching journey, bridging her passion for culinary arts with her interest in education. She will be teaching at Brookdale’s Culinary Education Center.

“Drawing from my trials and triumphs, I will inspire students to trust their instincts, embrace challenges, and cook from the heart,” said Brown.

Furthermore, Brown has embarked on an entrepreneurial venture, founding Poppies Flour Shop—a pastry business offering a delectable array of cakes, cupcakes, and confections in Eatontown, NJ. Her work has been published in Pastry Arts Magazine.   

Brookdale exemplifies an environment that fosters entrepreneurial spirit, where students are encouraged to innovate and pursue their passions beyond the classroom. As Brown continues to expand her business and culinary horizons, she remains a shining example of Brookdale’s commitment to nurturing talent and fostering culinary excellence.

For more information about Brookdale’s Culinary Arts program, visit their website.