Joy Bus Diner chef wins 10K on ‘Chopped,’ brings attention to Phoenix cause

Phoenix chef Jennifer Caraway, owner of Joy Bus Diner, has won $10,000 on Food Network’s “Chopped.” Her charity, Joy Bus, delivers free healthy meals to cancer patients and others in need.

Call it good karma.

Joy Bus founder Jennifer Caraway, one of the Valley’s most caring and generous chefs, won $10,000 on “Chopped” on Tuesday’s episode of the Food Network competition.

“Holy crap, $10,000 is huge!” she said after beating three other chefs. “That literally means 1,000 more meals to someone in need. I’m so stoked.”

Caraway is the chef and founder of Joy Bus and Joy Bus Diner, on Shea Boulevard off State Route 51 in northeast Phoenix. The non-profit diner raises money for the foundation.

MORE:12 Phoenix restaurants where your dining dollars go to a great cause

When “Chopped” host Ted Allen asked her what motivates her, she explained: “My charity, the Joy Bus. We prepare and deliver free chef-inspired meals to homebound individuals.”

She told “Chopped” judges about her inspiration, a close friend who succumbed to cancer.

“I lost a friend in 2012, her name is Joy, that’s why it’s called the Joy Bus. I was making little treats for her to make her feel better and it was that that kind of inspired me to try to help people who maybe didn’t have the same support system that she had.”

In 2016, the Food & Wine Experience created a fundraiser to benefit the Joy Bus. Caraway has been a tireless champion for her cause, and “Chopped” was a way for her raise awareness.

“I like to create beautiful food to give people a little bit of joy in their life,” she said. “We bring super-rad, healthy food to homebound patients in need.”

This is how Caraway wowed judges.

First round: appetizer

Basket ingredients: Duck confit, baby turnips, biscuits and narutomaki.

Her dish: Duck confit tostada with guajillo and pasilla sauce. “I’m stoked with the duck confit, possibilities are endless,” Caraway said, noting she used to own a restaurant in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. “The duck confit is like a high-end carnitas.”

Judges’ reaction: “I think you made some beautiful flavors here,” Amanda Freitag said. Even though Caraway struggled with the narutomaki, “It was a good appetizer, very solid,” Scott Conant said.


Britz, Debora. “Joy Bus Diner chef wins 10K on ‘Chopped,’ brings attention to Phoenix cause” AZ Central, March 28, 2018.