Johntay Bedingfield, chef at La Food Marketa in Pikesville, won $10,000 on the Food Network TV show "Chopped." But he won't be using the prize money on an engagement ring.

When Johntay Bedingfield first applied to go on “Chopped,” he told producers that if he won, he’d use the $10,000 prize money to buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend.

That was in October 2016, years before the La Food Marketa chef would actually appear on — and win — the competition show on the Food Network.


The episode featuring his win aired this week, and Bedingfield watched it at a viewing party at the Pikesville restaurant. Days later, he was still exhilarated.

“I kept saying I wanted to win for the city. I know the city gets a bad rap sometimes … but I want people to know we can compete on a national level against the bigger foodie cities that were surrounded by.”

Bedingfield competed against three other chefs in three separate challenges.

“Everything [I cooked] was kind of Marketa-y,” he said, referring to the restaurant where he works, which features American cuisine with Central and South American influences. In the first round, he made potato chip nachos. For round two, a red cabbage taco.

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When chef-owner Chad Gauss was planning the menu for La Food Marketa in Quarry Lake, he was guided by one idea: What would he and his staff from The Food Market in Hampden eat if they were dropped into Central America?

In round three, Bedingfield had just 30 minutes to make a dessert from four extremely random ingredients: soft pretzel dough, kumquats, beer-flavored sangria and a reuben egg roll with Russian dressing. Fortunately, the chef had a lot of experience with pretzel dough, from his previous stint at the Food Market.

“I just knew there was no way I could screw that up,” Bedingfield said.

To make his winning concoction, Bedingfield cooked down the kumquats with the sangria, and ripped the insides from the egg roll. He prepared a mascarpone cheesecake which he stuffed into the pretzels, forming an eclair-like pastry. The judges of “Chopped” were so impressed, they thought he must have a pastry background.

“No, I have a pretzel-rolling background,” he told them.

Bedingfield no longer needs an engagement ring. He proposed to his girlfriend, Lift Yoga + Strength owner Alexa Pancza, before filming the show. Now, he thinks, he’ll use the prize money for their honeymoon.