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DES MOINES, Iowa — A central Iowa pastry chef put his talents to the test on national television.

Alex Carter owns Black Cat Ice Cream in Des Moines. This month he was featured on Food Network’s Chopped Sweets, a spinoff of the original program Chopped where cooking contestants are given a basket of random ingredients and are tasked with turning them into a culinary masterpiece.

The self-made chef says he’s been a lifelong fan of the show. After Carter’s audition landed him in the competition he immediately began practicing. “My thing was I am working against the clock here. I just started practicing on old recipes with a clock. How much time is 20 minutes and it’s not very much. I learned that quickly,” he laughs.

Carter was given 20 minutes to make a dish out of an emu egg, banana liquor, star apple fruit, and mitarashi dango, a rice dumpling covered in a sweet soy sauce glaze. He admits he had never heard of some of the ingredients he was given but was still up to the challenge.

“I ended up getting chopped in the first round. It was close. But I was up against talented pastry chefs. In the second round they had to use horse feet so I’m kinda glad I didn’t get into that round. I’m not sure what I would have done with horse feet,” Carter laughs.

Despite his loss, the show gave Carter a confidence boost and reminded him to keep being creative and to push boundaries.

Black Cat Ice Cream is currently located at the edge of the Pappajohn Sculpture Park but has plans of relocating to a larger space this year. Carter’s episode on Chopped Sweets is airing on Discovery +.