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

Recaps by Chico Alexander, GSNN

Host Ted Allen
Creators Linda Lea, Michael Krupat, Dave Noll
EP Linda Lea, Dave Noll
Packager City Lights TV for Food Network
Origins Food Network Studios, New York City
Web foodnetwork.com/chopped
Airs 10p Tues, Food
Available In High-Definition Where AvailableStreaming Online

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Bring It!
September 29

Last time on Chopped, Einat Admony faced three returning champions in her quest to become the ultimate Chopped Champion. Unfortunately for her, that quest was stopped in the Entree Round. Her loss... Cody Utzman's gain, as he becomes the new champion to beat. Tonight on the season finale, three champions will return for another play... and three more champions will be chopped.

JOHN LAWSON
New York City
sous chef, Gordon Ramsay's London
British/Italian
Won episode 2.3
DIANE DiMEO
New York City
catering chef
sexy food
Won episode 2.9
DARIUS PEACOCK
Trenton, NJ
executive chef & owner, Exceptional Taste Catering
Home Cooking
Won episode 1.10
CODY UTZMAN
Brooklyn, NY
chef & restauranteur, The Standard
based upon his environment
$20,000, two games

Tonight's judges... all come from New York City's restaurant scene...

- Latin cuisine authority Aaron Sanchez
- Star executive chef Alex Guarnaschelli
- Italian maestro Scott Conant

Round 1: APPETIZER (20 minutes). First challenge has... lobster, bananas, and endive..

Twenty minutes... starting now.

John: Warm Lobster Salad with Endive & Caramelized Bananas
Diane: Lobster Poached with Herbs
Darius: Grilled Lobster with Braised Endive
Cody: Chipotle Banana Lobster Quenelle with Endive Salad

Lobsters are the only critter that the chef has to kill before cooking. And Diane's finding that out the hard way. Cody thinks that the others are playing it safe, while he's being edgy. Every chef wants to be the one at the end, but it's like Darius says... "You're only as good as your last dish." And the quenelle is proving to be a bit of a challenge, even for the returning champion.

Now the judges are just hoping for food on a plate.

And... TIME! We have food on a plate, but is it enough to last? Perhaps not for Cody, who left his endive below his station.

Endive would've been the key to Cody's dish. He wanted to bring something new to the table, and the flavor combinations were great.

Darius' lobster is brought together. The rusticness of it comes together, but it's not homogeneous through the chopping block.

The endive is the standout for Diane's dish. Her inexperience with lobster, though, is coming out in the dish.

John's dish is fresh-looking with a claw on the plate, but the dish is missing something that wakes up the plate, so to speak.

All of the dishes are worthy of a place in the champions' round... but alas, one dish is going to come up just a little short. The first person to be chopped... is... CODY. The stakes are higher, especially for the champions involved. The standards also have to be higher. He completely chopped himself.

Round 2: ENTREE (30 minutes). You survived your first course... but now comes pork loin, watercress, galia melon, and taro root...

... and half an hour to make it all work somehow.

John: Roast Pork with ... ???
Diane: Korean-Style Glazed Pork with Smashed Taro Root
Darius: Grilled Pork Loin with Fresh Watercress Salad

A little trick to the pork: french cutting the ribs and then marinating it in eggs. The taro root can be applied like a potato... but John's puree of such doesn't go off without a hitch, so it's off to a hand mixer. Diane's the first to plate with five minutes to go. And she's forgotten her melon. Meanwhile Darius is making lemonade out of smashed lemons. His fried taro isn't, so he dresses it up and makes it work as a garnish.

And... TIME! Diane's happy... but.... holy mamma... Yeah. You forgot the melon.

Darius' pork chop is very crispy and juicy. The taro root is a pleasant accident. The red peppers, though, didn't work.

Diane's dish is missing melon. They zapped Cody's dish on the endive. I expect the judges to not be any different here. But to her merit, everything came together wonderfully.

John's pork chop is perfect, but the sauce took away from the presentation. His duality, though, is on display for the judges to see, and they approve of that.

Diane missed the melon. That's all it came down to. And if they blasted Cody for missing endive, then they have to blast her here. Granted, there was a lot of elements in play, but rules are rules. But it's not up to me... The next person to be chopped is... DIANE. For all the reasons stated.

Round 3: DESSERT (30 minutes). John and Darius are just one dish and one person away from another $10,000. Who'll make the most of... matzo crackers, pomegranate molasses, roasted chestnuts, and baby fennel.

This is for cash money. GO!

John: Apple-Fennel Crumble with Chestnut Cream
Darius: Chestnut Mousse

John, as a pastry chef, has had a lot of experience with dessert. He calls winning this a big confidence booster. It's getting a little hot for Darius. He wants to make some ginger tuiles. That would require baking, but in 20 minutes? Darius is convinced that he has it.

But does he? It's your classic tale of two chefs. John's all about techniques and flavors, while Darius is all about soulful cooking. Darius is a big burly guy, while John is this lanky British dude. Darius owns his own business. John's one of the best chefs in the City. This just may come down to inches.

And... TIME! For the last time this season, the dishes are heading to the Block, where one champ will rise, and one champ will fall.

The apple crumble is very light and very delicious, but it's missing something extra, something to add that little pop there.

Darius's dessert is fun to start, and then delivers. That's presentation that's both dramatic and functional. His chestnut and fennel needed to be there, though.

This is as close as it gets, and I personally can't think of a better way to have this special series conclude than with these two chefs, these two dishes, and one of the toughest decisions in Chopped history. John won round 1. Darius took round 2... It's a game of inches now.

Needless to say that they both deserved the title of being Chopped Champion. But there can only be one $10,000 winner. The final person... to be chopped... is...

... JOHN. The judges were blown away by technique, but he needed to bring it to a higher level.

But Darius comes back to win the day, the money, and the title of Chopped Champion! This is about more than that... It's about who's watching him at home. This is a benediction...

... and so it ends, the second season of Chopped. But fear not, connoisseurs of culinary combat, because a third season is heading up to the pass as we speak. Look for it in two weeks. In the meantime and between-time, stay with us for four more chefs, three more rounds, and $10,000 to the one who isn't... CHOPPED.

To see this episode in its entirety, or to apply to be a contestant on "Chopped", visit the official website at www.foodnetwork.com/chopped