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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
Airs 10p Tues, Food
Available In High-Definition Where AvailableStreaming Online

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A Prickly Situation
June 14

Last season, Food Network turned a kitchen, four chefs, and a myriad of mystery ingredients into ready fun for you and profit for many an amateur chef. It worked to the point where we're doing it all over again.

That said, here are the challengers for tonight's sneak preview of Season 2 of "Chopped".

New York City
executive chef, Home
Seasonal American
orig. Venezuela
New York City
chef/owner, Chow Bar
Asian Fusion
orig. Buenos Aires, Argentina
junior exec chef, Industria Argentina

Three rounds, each one has its own box of mysterious ingredients. Be it a little or a lot, each one must be used. After each course, the plate will be judged on creativity, presentation, and taste. The lowest rung on the pole each round gets chopped. These are timed rounds; strategy is involved. The last chef standing wins $10,000 cash money.

Tonight's judges...

- Latin expert and cookbook author Aaron Sanchez
- celebrity cooking instructor Alex Guarnaschelli
- rock'n'roller chef Chris Santos

Round 1: APPETIZER (20 minutes). First up... brioche, fennel, and sea urchin.

Round 1... BEGIN!

Ross: Sea Urchin Chowder with Braised Fennel
Yvan: Sea Urchin Custard
Peter: "Frenched" Toast with Braised Fennel
Natalia: Fennel Citrus Salad with Sea Urchin

Trivia: Sea urchin can be very sweet or very salty. The best way to open it up is with shears cutting the outside, not stabbing and hitting the meat. And it's perfectly fine, almost exquisite, to eat raw. Ross has a problem with such a creature, and the fact that the potatoes that he wants to serve with them are not ready... isn't helping.

Two minute warning, and two chefs are going for plates.

And... TIME. Whatever's on your plates is on their menu. Here's what we end up with.

Ross: Sea Urchin Chowder with Fennel Salad. It's served deep, but the potatoes that he was working on are al dente. The fennel that he was going to use to accentuate the soup... is still in the oven.

Yvan: Sea Urchin Flan with Fennel Salad. Aaron likes the fact that the shell is used as a vehicle, but the salad is a bit sloppy, and the bread is still soft.

Peter: Sea Urchin "Frenched" Toast with Braised Fennel and Arugula. His entire plate is not executed properly.

Natalia: Fennel Citrus Salad with Marinated Sea Urchin. She's the only one who used the urchin in a raw preparation. She's very cerebral with her presentation. Judges like this dish.

So three chefs come out of the gate with varying grades of sloppiness. Who's going to pay dearly for it? The first person to be chopped is... PETER. When the bread was not soggy, the portion was just not there.

Round 2: ENTREE (30 minutes). Next up in the mystery boxes are... Blackstrap molasses, red snapper, parsley root, and dried cranberries.

Ross: Chipotle Marinated Red Snapper and Molasses Chutney
Yvan: Red Snapper with Mojito Salsa and Parsley Root Puree
Natalia: Parsley Root Chimichurri with Grilled Snapper

Yvan has a lot of energy and motivation for this dish, while Natalia has a game plan. Unfortunately, the game plan goes awry when her fish sticks to the grill. A lot.

And... TIME. Serving the entree...

Yvan: Red "Mojito" Snapper with Parsley Root Puree. It's very well-executed, well-balance. And for once, Alex is at a loss.

Natalia: Molasses Glazed Snapper with Chimichurri Sauce & Grilled Potatoes. The parsley root has a good texture to it. The fish was adequately rescued. But the ingredients are lost in the shuffle.

Ross: Molasses Snapper with Parsley Root Salad. The capers work well with the cranberries, but the chive garnish is a little worse for wear, and the fish is somewhat bony.

So is a perfectly cooked fish too safe for this show, or did the others really miss out on the catch of the day? The second person to be chopped is... ROSS. The first course was delicate, but the second was a muddled hodgepodge.

Round 3: DESSERT (30 minutes). It's the end of the meal and the end of the road for one more chef. Standing between you and $10,000 are... bulgur wheat, pomegranate juice, pineapple, and green papaya.

This is for cash money. START COOKING!

Yvan: Green Papaya Salad with Pomegranate Granita
Natalia: Genoise with Pomegranate Syrup

In order to win $10,000, Yvan needs to deliver a mojito. Natalia needs to deliver a cake. Natalia needs to add moisture and gets it in ricotta and honey. Unfortunately, it's snapper part 2 as her cakes are sticking to the molds. Meanwhile, Yvan is trying to salvage a bulgur wheat brittle into... well, something. He's got one minute to think of something...

And... TIME. .... TIME... Yvan, that means STOP SAUCING. NO MAS... It's over...

Natalia: Bulgur Wheat Genoise with Caramelized Pineapple. The ricotta brings it together, while the bulgur adds texture. It's a little too sweet, though.

Yvan: Roasted Almond Pudding with Green Papaya Salad. It was bold that he basically made something frozen, and the flavor is enjoyable. But then there is also the time factor. When Ted says "Time's up..." ... time's up.

Now to talk about the overall meals. The subject continues to be Yvan's disregard for the 30-minute clock, with Natalia bringing out the succulence of pineapple almost being an afterthought. Yvan delivered on a lot of key notes, while Natalia was creative all the way throughout. There was no clear winner in the appetizer, while Natalia really came into her own during the entree, especially given that her fish fell apart in preparation.

So Venezuela vs. Argentina in Match Play. Who gets the W? The final person to be chopped is... YVAN. He has ability and talent, but we couldn't overlook lack of creativity and lack of respect for time. Respect and honor for the kitchen is taken seriously, and the Chopped judges layeth the smack down appropriately.

... and that all means that Natalia Machado is today's Chopped Champion. She wants to use the money to go back to Argentina and visit her grandmother. Good job, tell her we said "hola".

We hope you enjoyed this little taste of "Chopped": season 2 flavor. Be back on Tuesday with another edition at its regular time, as four more chefs hope not to be.... chopped.

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