At the end of December, fans of “Chopped” across the country discovered what LOCAL residents have known for years: Joey Gramaglia of Saly G’s Restaurant and Tavern is as talented as they come. Joey was crowned the show’s champion and took home a $10,000 prize in “Pickle Panic,” the final episode of 2020.
“It was a crazy, exciting experience,” he says. “It’s not something you can really prepare for; everything you see on TV is real – including the pressure.”
Joey spent 17 straight hours competing in Food Network’s Knoxville, TN studio, creating culinary masterpieces with ingredients supplied by the show’s producers. He was one of four chefs tasked with crafting on-the-fly recipes through three rounds using three different baskets of ingredients. Ultimately, Joey’s sour trahana risotto, steak Milanese with an acorn squash and Limburger cheese sauce, and passionfruit-stuffed rainbow cannelloni earned him top honors from the three-judge panel. The plan, he said during the show, was to prepare dishes that honored his Italian American heritage – and it certainly paid off!
The filming took place in October, but contestants were obligated to keep the results a secret until the episode was broadcast.
“The whole thing was unforgettable,” he says. “I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to compete and to work alongside so many other incredible Chefs. Everyone I met, worked with, and competed with was terrific.”
These days, Joey is back in the kitchen of Saly G’s, where he’s leading his team into a rebound after restaurants nationwide took devastating blows from last year’s pandemic. New Jersey’s shutdown and reopening restrictions forced Saly G’s to adapt; the Gramaglia family restaurant, though, was able to weather the storm – and the staff is looking forward to brighter days ahead this spring and summer.
“Things got scary for a while when we were limited to only takeout,” Joey says. “Luckily, we’ve got a great support system here in Warren. The community has always been there for us. Now we want to welcome everyone back, we’ve been back in business (following the 35% capacity limitations) and we’re getting ready for outdoor dining as soon as the weather allows it. We expect to make this season the best it can be at Saly G’s.”
The restaurant and neighboring A&G Fine Italian Foods Store – also part of the Gramaglia family of restaurants – have made it through the challenges of the last 12 months, thanks to Joey’s leadership and staffs of dedicated people passionate about great food and outstanding service. Anyone who’s been to Saly G’s or who knows Joey Gramaglia would tell you it was no surprise to see him crowned champion on “Chopped!”