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
That said, here are the challengers for tonight's
sneak preview of Season 2 of "Chopped".
New York City
executive chef, Home
New York City
chef/owner, Chow Bar
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.
- 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
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
Round 2: ENTREE (30 minutes). Next up in
the mystery boxes are... Blackstrap molasses, red snapper, parsley root, and
Ross: Chipotle Marinated Red Snapper and Molasses
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