Tabb was told they liked his voice, which is gentle and drips with Southern hospitality. Apparently, his drawl resonated enough to get a call back two months later.
“They said I'd been selected as one of the 10 to compete for a slot on the show.”
After a 90-minute phone interview, which delved into his goals, style and personal information, and two weeks of waiting, Tabb was given a date to appear in New York.
“Funny thing about it is, the whole family decided to go,” Tabb said. “A lot of my family had never been out of Idabel.”
Tabb, his parents, and aunt and uncle spent a week in the Big Apple.
They spent three hours in line to tour the Statue of Liberty, saw the sights, ate at Carnegie Deli and had a slice at Lombardi's pizza.
“Everybody's always busy always doing something in that town,” Singleton said.
He said filming the one-hour show took 18 hours of shooting. But it was 18 hours well spent, as Singleton bested his three competitors to take home the prize and make his boss proud.
“Chef Tabb has a passion for cooking and a respect for the ingredients — two qualities that I know helped him finish on top,” Emeril said in a news release. “I love the spirit and creativity that goes into these competitions. It's the same type of environment that we foster in our kitchens: building flavors, adding the unexpected.”
As for the 10-grand, it'll be seed money to begin the arduous task of making that third dream come true.
“I'd like to open a restaurant in Oklahoma City in 2013,” Tabb said.
The “Chopped” champ said in his career he's developed a styled he calls Contemporary Redneck Cuisine.
“Redneck doesn't mean white trash,” he said. “It's the hard workers — people who farm, ranch and hustle for their food.”
He said he likes to take the comfort foods of the South, including barbecue, and combine them with the classic techniques he's learned and the principles of a true chef.
“I'm ready to cross that last goal off my list.”