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Norwich chef Julio Cancho featured in 'Chopped' episode airing Tuesday

Norwich — Julio Cancho, owner of Canggio Restaurant and 86'd Bar & Eatery in Norwich, is a contestant in an episode of the Food Network cooking competition show "Chopped" that is airing at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Cancho said the episode was filmed in New York in July 2019.

"I don't like keeping secrets, and this is the longest secret I've been able to keep, and I'm proud of myself," he said.

Cancho said that, as someone who has been in the industry for nearly 17 years, he's been on cooking show segments before but never on the national level.

He said Norwich chef Ceil Vardar, who won an episode of "Chopped" that aired in 2018, got him in touch with a producer for the show. Cancho said the application process involved a screening, an interview and more, and probably took half a year.

In filming, "I met three other chefs who are phenomenal, very cool people," Cancho said, saying he's happy he got to stay in touch with the other contestants. He said this has been "a very great experience."

The episode is titled "Skilfish Coping Skills." The Food Network description reads, "The competing chefs are in for a surprise when they open the appetizer basket to find a peculiar pate. In round two, the competitors must work with a fish that they've never cooked before. When one of the final competitors has difficulty making ice cream in the dessert round, their Plan B may be meant to be."

Naturally, Cancho cannot say if he won or lost, and he wasn't sure if he could identify the ingredients in the basket. But he said as soon as he saw them, he knew what he was going to do.

"As a born-and-raised Peruvian, I will make something Peruvians will know," Cancho said, but added, "I'm going to make this my own way."

He said things are going pretty good at Canggio and 86'd, even with the COVID-19 situation. He said that while "we were really down on sales in both places" in March and April, people started venturing out more after the phase one and phase two reopenings, which respectively allowed outdoor and indoor dining.


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