Verona Chef Tackles Chicken Feet on Chopped Tonight

BY  |  Tuesday, Oct 18, 2011 7:29am  |  COMMENTS (11)

What would you do with a basket of pre-cooked chicken feet, poblano peppers, black radishes and fruit-flavored candy? How about blood sausage, frog legs, sea beans and Halloween candy? Those are some of the challenging ingredients Chef Michael DiIonno of Verona’s Avenue Bistro will face in a special Halloween-themed episode of the Food Network’s Chopped, “Trick or Treat, Chicken Feet” tonight (10/18) at 10 p.m.(spoiler alert in comments)

DiIonno, who has gotten noticed for Avenue Bistro, is a veteran of the Essex/Morris food scene, having opened the Huddle Inn, near the Essex airport in 1981, followed by 3 Central in Madison and Lulu’s in Livingston. Two years ago, he branched out to open the larger Avenue Bistro, (reviewed by My Verona NJ) with a liquor license and a bistro-inspired menu emphasizing sophisticated comfort foods.

DiIonno isn’t the only Baristaville chef to take on the nail-biting challenge that is Chopped. Ryan DePersio of Montclair’s Fascino and Bloomfield’s Bar Cara, appeared on the show, but was eliminated. Michael Carrino, formerly of Montclair’s Restaurant Passionne, emerged victorious.

What’s your favorite Food Network smackdown? Chopped, Iron Chef?

Avenue Bistro, 558 Bloomfield Ave. (bet. Gould St. & Park Pl.) Verona, 973-239-7444


  1. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  October 18, 2011 @ 7:45 am

    I watched this last night. He won.

  2. POSTED BY Conan  |  October 18, 2011 @ 8:46 am

    “What would you do with a basket of pre-cooked chicken feet, poblano peppers, black radishes and fruit-flavored candy?”

    Throw it the hell out and go get a cheeseburger. The Huddle Inn used to be good for cheeseburgers. And a bit of kinky stuff at the bar from time to time, too.

    RoC, you need to say “Spoiler Alert!” before you ruin someone’s day. Next thing you know, you’ll tell us who won on “Dancing with the Stars” last night.

  3. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  October 18, 2011 @ 9:00 am


    If Liz was in the same temporal dimension as we, she no doubt would have titled the post “Verona Chef wins Chopped.”. Or would she never be able to report on the event so as not to be a spoiler?

  4. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  October 18, 2011 @ 9:03 am

    I guess Liz has airbrushed the story now and removed “first airing tonight”. Nicely done, now I look the fool, thanks Liz.

  5. POSTED BY Mrs Martta  |  October 18, 2011 @ 9:22 am

    Love chicken feet! Unless you go Down Neck and buy a chicken in oen of the Portuguese markets, it’s very hard to find one with the feet intact these days. When my mom cooked a chicken, she cooked ALL of it: feet, neck, giblets, you name it. I even have a recipe for chicken necks. Ah, the good old days!

  6. POSTED BY Liz George  |  October 18, 2011 @ 9:30 am

    Not roc’s fault – on my Droid which doesn’t let me add strikethrough. Press materials had show airing tonight for first time – we didn’t get heads up about change. Apologies to ROC and congrats to the chef!

  7. POSTED BY croiagusanam  |  October 18, 2011 @ 9:43 am

    Sure, they’re delicious. But does anyone think about the poor creature?

    How long must this cruelty continue?

  8. POSTED BY Right of Center  |  October 18, 2011 @ 9:45 am

    thank you Liz. Apology accepted.

  9. POSTED BY Mrs Martta  |  October 18, 2011 @ 9:55 am

    There ARE certain things I will not eat, frogs legs (or any part of a frog actually) being one of them. But I know they’re popular in French cuisine. I will also not eat eel. Have you obsevred eels in their natural habitat? Have you seen what they eat? No thanks.

    I read a story in the NY Times today about a Australian man who ate two garden slugs on a dare and became severely ill.

    “We hope this will help to remind others to avoid eating raw slugs,” the moderator, Eskild Petersen, said.

    That’s OK, Mr. P., don’t need a reminder.

  10. POSTED BY croiagusanam  |  October 18, 2011 @ 10:35 am

    Frog’s legs are quite tasty, MM. And not just in France. Many Portuguese places in the Ironbound do a great (albeit garicky) version of them.

    However, I’m with you on eels. They are, or were, a stable of British fare — less so in Ireland. My da loved them, but I’d have to leave the table when he tucked in to a plate.

    As for slugs well, I think I’d rather starve.

  11. POSTED BY cathar  |  October 19, 2011 @ 6:28 pm

    I always thought chicken feet, along with other unappetizing “stuff” from the bird, were reserved to make stock with (Chinatown mores and restaurant windows notwithstanding).

    But then I spent about 20 months in SE Asia in the Army. Believe me, chicken feet is the least of it over there. I’d never claim most of these dishes are, well. “tasty,” but they are proof that virtually 100% of a plucked, freshly killed chicken can be utilized in a kitchen. Just not mine.

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The cops don't need to be everywhere at once, the penalties need to be harsh. It is not hyperbole JC. No one is slowing down for a few hundred bucks. 5k or 10k and you can be sure that "speed won't be creeping up" on folks.

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