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Four chefs will create a three course dinner... with one chef eliminated after each course.

Recaps by Chico Alexander, GSNN

Ted Allen
Linda Lea, Michael Krupat, Dave Noll

Packager: City Lights Television for Food Network
Origin: Food Network Studios, New York City
Airs: Tuesdays at 10p ET on Food Network

In High-Definition Where AvailableStreaming Online

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March 31

Another four chefs. Another three baskets. Another $10,000. Let's meet tonight's competitors.

orig. Jamaica
owner and executive chef
orig. UK
sous chef
Onset, MA
executive chef
Poughkeepsie, NY
cafeteria chef at IBM

The rules are simple. You're given a mélange of random theme ingredients that must be used in that dish. You have a given number of 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 wins $10,000.

Tonight's judges...

- dynamic chef & restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian
- "The Cooking Loft" host Alex Guarnaschelli
- Latin expert and cookbook author Aaron Sanchez

Round 1: APPETIZER. First up... beef tenderloin, cucumbers, Asian pears, bittersweet chocolate.

You have 30 minutes... Get going!

Nigel: Spicy Beef with Tangy Cucumber Salad
Gavin: Beef Carpaccio with Pickled Cucumber Salad
Michael: Braised Beef Medallion with Glazed Pears
Melissa: Seared Beef with Caramelized Pears

Nigel loves spices. Gavin works brown butter with the chocolate. Melissa is confused by the cucumber. Michael? He's got an internal clock. Nigel and Gavin are just worried about finishing on time.

And TIME'S UP. In the end, everyone has finished.

Nigel's salsa works. The cucumber doesn't work. Neither do the spices. Some of it is overspiced. Gavin's dish took some moxie, but it could've used a little more salt. Michael's appetizer is nothing but roasted, but the plate could've been bigger or the serving smaller. Melissa's dish is fun, but does it really fit?

So a few procedural errors on Nigel's and Michael's part, a few lacking flavors for Gavin, and a fit issue with Melissa. Whose dish did not pass muster in this round?

The first person to be chopped is... MICHAEL. It was three separate dishes, not one big one. The flavors were there, but they didn't mix.

Round 2: ENTREE. Next up in the mystery boxes are... mussels, canned tomatoes, pita bread, and celery root.

Thirty minutes in this round... GO!

Nigel: Spaghetti with Mussels in Spicy Tomato Sauce
Gavin: Manhattan vs. New England Chowder
Melissa: Steamed Mussels with White Bean & Celery Root Ragout

You can really do too much and muck up these simple ingredients. So much can go so wrong so quickly, as evidenced by Gavin's pot setting forth the big steam heat. He doesn't like the shell. Melissa's broth is not coming up to a boil, and the ragout is not coming up as well as it should. Nigel's working on all burners.  In the end, Gavin changes gears...

Gavin: Potato Hash with Manhattan Mussel Chowder.

Melissa's just going to keep things simple. Gavin forgets to toast his pita before pulverizing it. All of the chefs are concerned in this round...

And... TIME. Plates are down. Time to serve.

Nigel's pasta is really lacking in sauce. Gavin's hash is not as crunchy without the toasted pita. Melissa's mussels doesn't need all of those beans. Aaron likes it a lot for being comforting.

Does size really matter in this course? The second person to be chopped is... NIGEL. The flavors were good, but there was no evolution from course to course.

Round 3: DESSERT. Welcome to the shootout at the OK Corral. Your weapons... Black mission figs, slivered almonds, and lemons.

This is for money, folks... GO!

Gavin: Roasted Figs with Lemon Sabayon
Melissa: Sautéed Figs with Brown Sugar and Almond Streusel

You have to be very careful with figs, because they are full of water. Sabayon is very time consuming. Can Gavin kick one out in thirty minutes? Melissa's streusel is beautiful, as she works it into a parfait. She's keeping it simple, while he's going all-in. Hopefully he won't screw things up.

And... STOP COOKING. You've gone as far as you can on your own power.

Gavin's dessert, though it was one step away from catastrophe, ends up being rather delicate. Melissa's fig parfait is more of a breakfast, but all of the components are very good.

So we have the collected approach of Melissa, while Gavin threw himself out and came out three for three. Which one of these desserts is worth $10,000? The final person to be chopped is... MELISSA. She was very impressive, but Gavin was just blowing away. And in the end, Gavin Mills is this week's champ and recipient of $10,000.

Next week is the season finale, and we've saved the best for last as four chefs enter, but three wind up getting... chopped.

To see this episode in its entirety, or to apply to be a contestant on "Chopped", visit the official website at