According to NewJerseyhill.com resident AJ Sankofa, the owner of ESO Artisanal Pasta on Elm Street, finished in second place during a “Chopped” episode which aired Tuesday, Dec. 27 on Food Network.
Sankofa made three dishes for the episode “Noodle-palooza.” The first dish was a play on pasta bolognese, and the second was a play on squid ink pasta with seafood; for the third course, he made a dessert-filled pasta.
“It is no joke,” Sankofa said about the competition. “The clock is no joke. These different types of ingredients are very difficult to work with, and it’s a lot of pressure. Overall, it was a great experience, great learning experience and just a way to challenge myself to see what I could do under those circumstances.”
Sankofa also said he thought he did well on Chopped.
“I think that for someone coming into the t.v. show world of cooking just this past year in 2022 and being able to maneuver from ‘The Great Food Truck Race’ to now Chopped, came in third place in The Great Food Truck Race and second in Chopped,” he said. “So hopefully if I get another opportunity, I’ll get first place.”
Sankofa started his business in June 2020 when he began making fresh pasta that people could pick up from him and cook at home.
“Since there were no restaurants open, the idea was to give people restaurant-quality food that they can prepare inside their homes, and they can have the experience of going out,” Sankofa said.
Since then, his business has added desserts that Sankofa’s wife makes, and they’ve started shipping nationwide.
This year, ESO Artisanal Pasta will work on starting a subscription-based model where they can deliver to customers.
Sankofa said he likes the sense of community that comes with his restaurants. He said many of his customers are the parents of kids he grew up with in town, and he likes being able to build connections with people in the town he lives in.