HERMON – The chef at Maine’s legendary Dysart’s restaurant and truck stop, who started as a part-time line cook 22 years ago, will test his culinary prowess on the hit cooking show “Chopped.”

Shaun Yazbek of Hampden will be one of four chefs competing for a $10,000 prize on an episode of “Chopped” titled “Truck Stop Stars.” The episode is scheduled to premiere on the Food Network at 10 p.m. March 1.

Yazbek, whose specialties include comfort foods like macaroni and cheese and pot pies, said he gets a kick watching cooking shows where chefs are given exotic ingredients he’d never dream of trying to serve to the Dysart’s crowd.

“I saw an episode of ‘Chopped’ where they gave them goose liver and (Atomic Fireballs candy) to cook with,” said Yazbek, 56. “They took it a little easy on us.”

Yazbek, known to most customers as “Chef Yaz,” said he can’t disclose more than that about his episode of “Chopped,” which was already been filmed. The show usually has chefs create an appetizer, entree and dessert course using ingredients chosen by the producers. The dishes are then judged.

What Yazbek would say is what he’d do with the money, if he wins. He said he’d help his brother, who is dealing with medical bills.


Producers for the show had seen him on a Travel Channel program about truck stops and asked him whether he would like to appear on “Chopped.”

Yazbek, a native of Lawrence, Massachusetts, came to his culinary career out of necessity. He said he was taking some college business courses and working at the post office, but was in need of another part-time job. So he applied to be a part-time line cook at Dysart’s and “never looked back.” He works at the original Dysart’s, off I-95 near Bangor.

The massive diner and truck stop attracts truckers, travelers and tourists for its home-cooking, huge portions and nostalgic truck stop atmosphere. After eating, one can browse the aisles of clothing, gadgets and all manner of things truckers might need for comfort on the long haul ahead.

“Between this place and the (garage) across the street, you could literally buy an entire truck,” said Yazbek.

Not mention a giant chicken pot pie, with two sides and bread, for $10.99.

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