With her upcoming appearance as a contestant on “Chopped,” the Whey Station’s Jillian Moskites has earned cool-mom status.
Moskites and her husband, Joshua, who co-own the popular grilled-cheese food truck, have six kids, ages 11 months to 9 years. The older children, avid fans of the Food Network chef competition show, urged her to apply.
“I filled out the online form thinking, ‘My kids are going to think I’m awesome, [but] they’re never going to call me,’” Moskites recalls. But a few months later, as she was making dinner at home, her phone rang.
Moskites will be featured on the Feb. 27 episode at 10 p.m. titled “Epic Eats.” “In an indisputably indulgent competition, the chefs find that every basket contains at least one epic ingredient — an extreme example of something completely crave-able,” the episode description reads. “The appetizer basket brings them a big, bold marriage of two classic American comfort foods, and a savory cake is the showstopper in the entree round. A puzzling dessert basket reveals something gummy and something over-the-top yummy.”
“It’s 100 percent real, nothing fake, nothing fluff,” Moskites says of the TV production. “They’re very careful to ensure that the judges stay far from contestants, and that you have no exposure to what could possibly be in the basket before it gets opened. It’s very much as it seems.”
Once faced with their baskets of secret ingredients, chefs have just a few minutes to figure out what they’re going to cook.
“Honestly, your skills kind of go out the window…there’s so much nerves and exhaustion and stress,” Moskites says. “You have cameras in your face and you have to rely on your instincts completely, using your creativity.”
Moskites has an extensive culinary background, with a degree from Johnson & Wales University and years of experience in specialty food, working for Sid Wainer & Son and the former Wild Raspberry in Cromwell, where she taught cheese courses.
In 2011, she and her husband launched their grilled-cheese truck, which quickly gained a loyal following of Wesleyan University students during late-night stops in Middletown. The truck also found a captive audience in Hartford’s Bushnell Park and appeared regularly at various farmers’ markets, food truck festivals and beer fests.
After an October crash that left their food truck totaled, the couple has been using two trailers for catering jobs, vending appearances at Connecticut breweries and weekly stops by the Wesleyan campus. Moskites says they’ve purchased a minibus-type vehicle to transform into a food truck, hoping to get it on the road by mid-spring.
The Whey Station will appear weekly at the Coventry Farmers’ Market this season starting in June, along with scheduled dates at Hartford’s XFINITY Theatre and a few dates at the Bozrah Farmers’ Market. The truck has traditionally parked regularly at Bushnell Park, and Moskites says she’d like to continue having a presence in Hartford if scheduling permits.
Moskites says her children can’t wait to see Mom on their favorite TV show.
“The kids play ‘Chopped’ at home all the time. They have not stopped,” she says, laughing. “They judge each other, and they are harsh. It makes a disaster of the kitchen but it’s totally worth it; I love seeing them being creative.”
NoRA Cupcake Company (700 Main St., Middletown) will host a “Chopped” watch party Feb. 27 starting at 7 p.m. Food will be available for purchase; a portion of proceeds from food sales will be donated to victims of a Feb. 8 fire at the Northwoods East Apartments in Middletown. Gift cards and monetary donations for victims will also be accepted.