The baskets are loaded... The chefs have been
chosen... The judges are in place, and the check for $10,000 is made out. Let's
give it away.
owner & chef, Peluso's Italian Specialties
executive chef, Christos Steak House
New York City
executive chef, Ammos
executive chef, Frederick's
The rules are simple.
You're given a mélange of random theme ingredients that must be used in that
dish. You have 30 minutes of cooking time. After each course, the plate will be
judged on creativity, presentation, and above all, taste. The chef whose plate
scores the lowest after each course will be "chopped". The last chef standing
- chef & restauranteur Chris Santos
- executive chef Alex Guarnaschelli
- Latin cooking whiz Aaron Sanchez
Round 1: APPETIZER. First up in the
mystery baskets... turbot, nori sheets, pistachios, and coconuts.
This round has 20 minutes... Time starts now!
Francesco: Turbot California Roll
Mina: Seared Turbot with Potato & Bacon Hash
Dave: Pistachio Dusted Turbot with
Nori Vinaigrette Coconut
Gwen: Pistachio Crusted Turbot
Gwen is a classic French chef. Everything about
him screams that. Meanwhile, Mina has issues with the coconuts. Dave wants to
change gears halfway through the round with potatoes boiling for whatever
reason. And Alex reminds me of my cohort, explaining how potatoes in a robot
coupe turning into a big gluey mess is making her sad right now. Meanwhile,
Francesco is slow-cooking the fish, Gwen is looking for herbs and wine that
aren't there. AND he just unwrapped his fish. Talk about a nailbiter. With only
less than three minutes to go. And Gwen is panicking... Mina's done...
And TIME... And as you know, whatever's on the
plate is what the chefs will eat. So what do our chefs come up with?
Francesco: Sauteed Turbot Wrapped in Nori
Mina: SAME AS PLANNED
Dave: SAME AS REVISED
Gwen: .... NOTHING.
The California roll needed a little bit of a
sauce to join them. Mina's dish is very balanced, but it's all the same
textures. Dave's potatoes are undercooked. But it kinda worked. The fish is
delicate, but where's the nori? And as for Gwen? The bottom line is... he's
serving empty plates... Until it is decided that he serves the fish that he did
manage to finish (with no objection from the competitors).
So is time truly a factor? Are rules truly rules?
The first person to be chopped...
... is GWEN. What can you say except... he served
nothing within the allotted time limit.
Round 2: ENTREE. Three chefs. Three
baskets... In them... Rainbow chard, papaya, granola, parsnips, and calamari.
The clock has 30 on it. GO!
Francesco: Stuffed Calamari with Grilled Papaya
Mina: Seared Calamari with Sauteed Rainbow Chard and Papaya Smoothie
Dave: Granola Spiced Calamari with Orange Papaya Soup
The judges want to see stems... and they want to
see leaves. Dave just threw away his stems. Francesco uses everything. Dave
wants to stuff his calamari with every herb in the pantry. Mina's not prepared
to compromise the flavors of one dish, so she's making two. Dave's oil... not
hot enough. Francesco's calamari... falling apart. Mina's calamari... no
sauce... until she deglazes her pan. Nice.
And we all learn from Gwen's mistakes... as
everyone's plating. TIME UP! Let's see what we have...
Francesco's presentation is great, but the
calamari is undercooked. Mina had to use the papaya somehow, but her dishes
didn't work together. Dave's soup is flavorful, but the calamari needed a lot of
So is an undercooked calamari worth as much as
two dishes in one with the talent to create a great singular dish? The next
person to be chopped...
... is FRANCESCO. The first course was very good,
but the execution was very flawed.
Round 3: DESSERT. It's just Mina...
against just Dave. And both them... against these... Plain donuts, smoked gouda,
white chocolate chips, and dried apricots.
Thirty minutes... GO!
Mina: French Toast Donuts
Dave: Apricot & Smoked Gouda Fritter
And Dave's out of eggs. Actually, Dave takes both
eggs, leaving Mina with nothing. She asks for an egg. He gives him one. Dave is
using olive oil to contrast the sweetness of ingredients, but his fritters are
dissipating into the oil. He needed that other egg and a cooler oil. Mina is
using the white chocolate and cheese to make a sauce.
So was that a $10,000 egg that Dave gave Mina?
We'll find out soon enough as Dave pulls out strawberry jam.
TIME'S UP. What you see is what the judges will
Aaron likes that Dave used the apricot in the
fritter, but he needed the fritter to be light and airy. Alex finds the donut a
little gummy. She also needed another egg and the cheese grates were rubbery.
Time to consider the overall meal in addition to
the desserts. The contest is not supposed to be easy, but was it too hard for
both of them? Flavor combinations did work, but execution did not on the
dessert. As for the meal, was there a natural progression between the two, or is
it simply too close to call?
The final person to be chopped...
... is DAVE. This was the most exhausting
deliberation, but David does have a bright future ahead of him. He lost it by
And Mina Newman won it by THAT much, winning
$10,000 and the title of this week's Chopped Champion...
But many ingredients have yet to be tried... And
many challengers have yet to face each other in the hopes of winning $10,000...
for not being chopped. Be back next week!
To see this episode in its
entirety, or to apply to be a contestant on "Chopped", visit the
official website at