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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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Winging It
January 19

It's time once again to open up the chef cage and let the animals run loose. Here are three boxes. Here's $10,000. Who wants it?

Let's meet the chefs going for gold and green...

Linda Laestadius
orig. Sweden
baker/pastry chef, The Bear Cafe in Woodstock, NY
John Sierp
New York City
chef & firefighter
Lizzy Singh-Brar
orig. Australia
chef, Fanny in Brooklyn
Justin Gaines
White Plains, NY
executive sous chef, Zanaro's

You know the rules, and you know the lifelines. Let's meet the judges...

- Renegade restauranteur Chris Santos
- New wave Mexican superstar Sue Torres
- Dynamic American master Geoffrey Zakarian

Round 1: APPETIZER (20 minutes). First down the line are... sake, grapes, and chicken wings.

Just 20 minutes on the clock... I'd get going if I were you.

Linda: Sake-Glazed Wings with Grape Salad
John: Buffalo Chicken Wings with Grape & Sake Sauce
Lizzy: Soy-Sake Marinated Wings with Pickled Grapes
Justin: Citrus and Thyme Chicken Wings

You need at least 15 minutes to cook chicken wings all the way to the bone. Anything less is an invitation to the chop. John decides to fry with EVOO. That's not for frying chicken wings, my friend. Linda... ends up changing her game... to...

Linda: Yogurt-Marinated Wings.

Lizzy gets her wings on the heat with 10 minutes. John, meanwhile, is killing the wings. And now he's putting water in a boiling pot of oil. BAD, JOHN! BAD! Justin, meanwhile, is keeping his wits about him. Seems like he's the ONLY chef doing that. With a minute left to plate, it looks like Justin may win this round, while the other chefs... panic.

And... TIME.... to panic, because someone's about to get the *makes whooshing chop noise*.

Linda's grape salad works well, but the issue is the chicken. The skin isn't crispy. Sue's chicken is especially raw. John's chicken isn't cooked... AT ALL. Lots of things going for Lizzy's dish... but the chicken still isn't cooked all the way. Justin's chicken... highlighted by the sake vinaigrette... but you don't need those tips, because they're just sinew.

So we know Justin is safe. The question is.. who isn't? Because honestly, this is a toss-up. We know that John cooked his dish the LEAST, Linda a close second. But stranger things have happened in the Chopped Kitchen. So who's the first to go? The first chicken to get their head cut off on the Chopping Block... is... LINDA. Lots of missteps by everybody, but Linda's chicken was determined to be the rawest of the raw.

Now that we got the taste of foul fowl out of our mouths, who's up for...

Round 2: ENTREE (30 minutes). Kitchen magic must be applied to... horseradish.. catfish... treviso... and Japanese eggplant.

Half an hour to whip something up... from now.

Treviso is a red chicory which is very bitter, but delicious if it's cooked just so.

John: Fried Catfish with Horseradish Potatoes Au Gratin
Lizzy: Pan-Seared Catfish with Sauteed Treviso
Justin: Tempura-Fried Catfish with Spicy Mayo

John seems to compose himself better in this round. His biggest competition... classically-trained Justin, who can't find cornstarch. So he improvises with flour with milk. Lizzy wants to hold her own, though she forgets to core her treviso before she cooks it. BAD LIZZY. BAD! John speculates he has seven minutes to cook his catfish. What a coincidence, you have seven minutes on the clock. Justin's batter starts to go when he cuts into the fish to plate it. That's bad. Lizzy's mayo... same deal. Not thick enough. John's plate... has stuff on it.

And TIME. Next stop, the Chopping Block.

John's vegetables have a great flavor to them. The whole plate, though, looks like a trainwreck. Lizzy's plate is colorful, but the arugula... is repetitive. And the inedible treviso core is... inedible. The eggplant and the treviso on Justin's plate are very tender. The batter on the fish is a little thick. It's a little bready and eggy.

So is it crust... or inedible treviso core.... or just a heavy-handed hammer that's going to get the chop? Tell you what, though... Take John's fish, Justin's veg, and Lizzy's creative plating, and that's a plate right there. The next person to get gutted by the Chopping Block... is... LIZZY. They couldn't overlook the eggplant stem and the treviso core. Too many flavors.

Round 3: DESSERT (30 minutes). Now it all comes down to these final boxes, and within them... cherry tomatoes, silken tofu, ginger snaps, and cocoa nibs.

This ought to be an interesting half-hour. BEGIN!

John: ... we still don't know.
Justin: Tofu Ginger Snap Genoise

These ingredients level the playing field. You have the nibs, which are cocoa beans after roasting and shelling. they can be very bitter if you don't work them properly.

Justin has to start over after his simple syrup burns. John, meanwhile... is basically flying blind, trying whatever he can think of and hoping it'll stick. Half of his time is gone. Oops, make that two-thirds of his time. Ultimately, John comes up with...

John: Tofu Parfait Soup with Ricotta Cheese

Justin starts plating. John starts plating... One of these plates is worth $10,000... and the other isn't worth the china it's being served on...

And it's TIME to find out which is which.

Justin's cake is a winner, but the candied tomatoes are far too sweet. John's soup surprisingly is well balanced and goes down as such. Justin says he cooks with heart and passion, and that his meal progressed. John says he progressed further than Justin... right after he makes the all-too-familiar bus analogy.

Justin has been a bit safer than John throughout the whole meal, but Justin has always performed better than his competition. John was ambitious and creative throughout the match. In the end, though, it's the classic question... if you create and you fail, are you creative or are you a failure?

The final person... to be chopped... is.... JOHN! He did a tremendous job all day... but he can't cook chicken wings.

... and the same can't be said for Justin, who proved that he can cook whatever is in front of him, winning $10,000 and the title of Chopped Champion.

Another chef will earn that title next week. The other three... Chopped. That's just the rule, folks.

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