From the moment the clock is started, the judges
have high hopes for every group of four chefs that enter the arena of
competition. But the proof of the (insert random ingredients here) is in the
eating, so... let's open up the boxes and see who's brave (or perhaps foolhardy)
enough to challenge them.
New York City
sous chef, London
executive chef, Delicatessen
sous chef, W Hoboken
Jersey City, NJ
executive chef & owner, Ox Restaurant
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.
- Italian cookbook superscribe Scott Conant
- Star chef Amanda Freitag
- NYC bistro baron Marc Murphy
Round 1: APPETIZER (20 minutes). First
course has to have calamari... brussel sprouts... and Asian pears.
The clock on the wall says 20... GO!
John: Sautéed Squid with Caramelized Brussel
Michael: Grilled Calamari Salad
David: Crispy Squid with Asian Salad
Nicole: Wilted Brussel Sprout Salad
The key to working the calamari is cleaning it
with ice and water. Michael thinks he knows his way around it. A lot of the
chefs are spending too much time cleaning it and not enough time cooking it.
John's concentrated on seasoning and flavoring. Nicole is working on a tempura
batter. Halfway through the round, and it looks as if no one is ready just yet,
which sucks because they've all got a lot to prove at this point. John is the
first to plate. Nicole's oil is not hot enough. Michael has cartilage. And this
will come down to seconds....
And TIME. What's on the plate is what's for
John: Sauteed Squid Salad with Black Pepper. It's
very simple and clean, but it's heavy on the pepper. Amanda finds an eyeball in
Michael: Grilled Calamari Salad with Bacon.
Michael didn't clean his calamari very well. Cartilage everywhere. Scott
basically says that you ignored the customers and served something inedible.
David: Crispy Squid Salad with Calamata Olives.
It's very high in the salt. The pear is also nonexistent.
Nicole: Wilted Sprout Salad with Tempura
Calamari. Most of her time was spent cleaning the calamari to the point that she
did not finish.
So a lot of calamari innards didn't make it past
the judges' eyes. A group of rising stars making rookie mistakes, but who will
get the knife? The first person to be chopped is... NICOLE. The dish... not
completed, albeit the most hoped for. The other chefs, though, do not escape
mildly, as the judges put them on notice.
Round 2: ENTREE (30 minutes). Let's see how you
do against... Bison... dried mango... leeks... and Belgian-style ale.
Thirty minutes on the clock and not a second
more. OFF YOU GO.
John: Bison Pot Roast
Michael: Roasted Sirloin of Bison
David: Roasted Bison
John's done this before as a chef in a pub in
England. He goes for all-in-one flavor. The key to winning: get the bison rare,
but not too rare. Michael wants to get a nice sear on the bison. David goes for
potatoes to match it. Michael thinks that John's way of cooking is a little out
there. David's gastrique is a little on the sweet side, so he goes with the sour
of Worcestershire sauce. A lot of hubris going on around the kitchen. David's
meat is undercooked. John's worried about the potatoes. Michael's experimenting
And everyone completes on time. But are they any
Michael: Roasted Sirloin of Bison with Arugula
Salad. The mangoes work with the salad. The raw onion is penetrating through the
dish. His cooking style doesn't really warrant a starch, he thinks. He also
thinks well on his feet.
David: Roasted Bison with Ale & Mango Gastrique.
His meat is very rare. All of the components, though, come out well.
John: Pot Roasted Sirloin of Bison. His potatoes
are amazing. Amanda's taken back to a pub, while Marc wondered why the cut was
still too fatty. It's a mistake he cops to ready.
A marked improvement from the last round, but we
still have to cut one of these chefs. The next person to be chopped is... DAVID.
All three have stepped up the game, but David did not sear his bison hard
enough. Also, the gastrique missed the mark.
Round 3: DESSERT (30 minutes). Standing between
you and ten large is... ancho chilies, semi-sweet chocolate, and black plums.
This is for money... GO!
John: Caramelized Plums
John follows his mentor's advice: "simple
ingredients cooked simply" (C-Note: London is Gordon Ramsay's restaurant).
Michael is 22 minutes away from a genoise. Ambitious. So far, everything's
working out fine. Both chefs are infusing the flavor of the chilies into the
chocolate... with wine. With 10 minutes left, Michael begins assembling his
cake. John's very aware of time. Everything's going together well on both side.
And ... TIME. Do you have the $10,000 dish? Let's
John: Caramelized Plums with Roasted Almonds. The
dish is beautiful, but the chocolate is overwhelming. John wanted to keep it
simple all through evening.
Michael: Napoleon with Sweet Ricotta. This was an
all-or-nothing shot with a genoise... and the chocolate was on the side. Not
really the star of the dish with TWO of the ingredients in it.
So let's talk about the dinners overall. John
stuck with simple foods with simple ingredients, cooked simply. Michael thought
well on his feet. This is very close, especially when you consider the time
restraints that held the chefs behind the 8-ball.
That said... the final person to be chopped...
is... MICHAEL. He had an amazing recovery, but in the end, they had to return to
the appetizer and the sloppy job he did.
But that means that the sous-chef of Gordon
Ramsay has come out on top, with John Lawson taking home $10,000 for his efforts
as Chopped Champion!
But he will have to pass the glory onto another
set of four, as next week will find another action-packed meal ending in three
people getting... chopped.
To see this episode in its
entirety, or to apply to be a contestant on "Chopped", visit the
official website at