MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A Memphis chef and restauranteur used her southern culinary skills to become the Food Network’s latest ‘Chopped’ champion and take home a $10,000 prize.

Tamara Patterson, better known as Chef Tam, took part in the popular cooking competition back in October, but the episode didn’t air until Tuesday night. Chef Tam said it was tough keeping the outcome a secret.

“I had to keep it under wraps. You were sworn to secrecy,” said Patterson.

Chef Tam

Chef Tam, who owns Chef Tam’s Underground Cafe, has become a familiar face on the Food Network.

She has competed on “Guys Grocery Games” three times, where she also managed to beat out other chefs and win $16,000. Chef Tam is the first Memphis chef to win ‘Chopped.’

“I was competing against people who have cooked in Michelin star restaurants, and here I am, just a home-trained chef winning. It was really dope,” said Patterson.

On ‘Chopped’, four chefs have to race against the clock to create an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. During each round, they are forced to use unusual ingredients they pull out of a basket, and in each round, a contestant is eliminated.

“It was extremely frantic, but it’s tenser than you would ever think,” said Patterson. We knew there was going to be a BLT theme, so we thought, how can I make it a bit different, but there is no way to prepare for it.”

Chef Tam won over the judges with her BLT fried mac-n-cheese ball and her BLT take on Shrimp and Grits and Stuffed French Toast.

“I thought, wow. I did it. I thought that this is literally something I wrote down years ago and said that I would do, and I’m having an opportunity to do it,” said Patterson.

Chef Tam’s Underground Cafe

Chef Tram opened ‘Chef Tam’s Underground Cafe‘ five years ago and recently opened ‘Chef Tam’s Express’ in Arlington, Texas.

During the pandemic, she also ventured into the world of retail, selling her own cookware, sauces, and spices online.

“We over hundred products all branded that we had to take on at the height of the pandemic,” she said. We are just here milling out food and our products every day.”

Chef Tam said there is no question her ‘Chopped” win will be good for Memphis and her restaurants and hopes she gets invited back.

Customers take pictures at Food Network wall

“For me, it really was a dream come true,” Patterson said.

Chef Tam’s Underground Cafe is located at 668 Union Avenue. You can learn more about Chef Tam’s Underground Cafe and check out their menu at https://www.thecheftam.com/.