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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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In a Pinch
January 26

Four chefs... One will convert mystery ingredients into the taste of victory. The other three will get the chop. Let's say hey to the players...

Pnina Peled
Manhattan, NY
chef de cuisine, New York Helmsley Hotel
Lonnie Dyner
Brooklyn, NY
executive chef, La Petite Marche
Susan Crocker
Montgomery, NY
chef/owner, Holberts Catering and Backyard Bistro
Damien Brassel
New York City (orig. Ireland)
chef/owner, Knife + Fork

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

- Bistro baron Marc Murphy
- Acclaimed executive chef Alex Guarnaschelli
- Italian maestro Scott Conant

Round 1: APPETIZER (20 minutes). Our first course must feature... red cherry peppers, mortadella, and soft-shell crabs.

Damien should've stayed in bed. Better wake up. Your 20 starts now.

Pnina: Cornmeal Crusted Crab
Lonnie: Soft Shell Crab "BLT"
Susan: Pan-Seared Soft Shell Crab
Damien: Deep-Fried Crab with Vinaigrette

How do you work with soft-shell crab? Take off their faces... and remove their lungs. Susan... forgets to do this. Pnina DOES do this. But has she the time to make her dish? Lonnie goes to plan B, because he can't find tomatoes (look beside you), so he goes with peppers for a...

Lonnie: Soft Shell Crab "BLP" with Red Pepper Slaw

Peppers and mortadella go nicely together. Damien... hasn't figured anything out with... and he's got eight minutes left. Susan has mozzarella on her station. Cheese and fish do not go together. At all. Damien goes to plan B with a pan-fry. Two minute warning. Lonnie has an herb aioli in the works. Susan couples her dish with a warm arugula salad. And Damien is still behind with a minute left.

... and TIME... WHEW! That was close.

Pnina's crab dish and pepper are nicely spiced. The cornmeal is a little sandy and gritty. And Scott's not pleased with the cheese and fish number.

Lonnie's flavors go well together. Alex thinks that the sandwich is a little wonky, and Scott has an aversion with too many raw onions.

Susan's salad and peppers go well together. But the dish is two dishes on one plate.

Damien... had some trouble. He didn't even taste his own dish. The sauce is good, though. But his crabs are raw.

So Damien openly admits to having fault with the ingredients. But the judges believe that he is a talented chef. And the judges tore all of the chefs apart... especially Scott with his aversion to cheese/fish combos and raw onions. So who'll be the first to go? The first person... to get chopped... is... DAMIEN. Lack of heat with the crab was scary.

Round 2: ENTREE (30 minutes). Time for celebration is over. Time for baby bananas, black-eyed peas, poblano peppers, and ostrich steak is nigh...

... and time starts now.

We start with grand theft ingredients, as Lonnie, either mistakenly or willfully, helps himself to Pnina's black-eyed peas and ostrich. Bad Lonnie. No home game.

Pnina: Spiced Ostrich with Braised Black-Eyed Peas and Fried Bananas
Lonnie: Bacon-Wrapped Ostrich Steaks
Susan: Grilled Ostrich Steaks

Baby bananas are very sweet. These bananas are not ripe, so your best bet is to make it savory.

We're already halfway in. Lonnie is frying his peas after a failed boil. All three chefs are using wine to some extent. You need to cook it down for some time in order to catch some of that essence. Lonnie uses it with some hot ingredients in a blender. The result.. scald. His ostrich is raw, but he's working on a pico de gallo with the blackeyed peas. And all of the chefs have an issue with letting the meat rest so it seals in all of that goodness...

But it doesn't stop the plating.

The clock, however, does. TIME. And Lonnie takes a little bit off of Pnina's plate. Again.

The judges liked the salsa, which gives them a nice texture. The starchiness of the bananas... cloying. The ostrich and the bacon cooked around it... extremely not cooked.

Susan's meat is overcooked on one side. She's disappointed that it wasn't as rare as she had hoped. The bananas made up for it.

Pnina's peas and poblanos were dealt with very well. The fried bananas also earns raves. The ostrich... also overcooked.

So overcooked... Overcooked... Undercooked. Is the bacon going to be enough to send Lonnie home? Susan did the best job she could with the meat. All three dishes were very flawed, but whose was the most so? The next person... to be chopped... is... LONNIE. Too much rawness.

Round 3: DESSERT (30 minutes). Sweet success depends on how you treat lychees, phyllo dough, Canadian bacon, and candy canes.

We're half an hour away from payday. LET'S GO!

This is the first time in Chopped history that there have been two women in the final.

Pnina: Bourekas with Lychees & Ricotta Cheese
Susan: Maple Candy Bacon

Lychees have a very floral favorite. It's going to take a lot of time and patience to peel and cook them. Susan is going to go with a napoleon with apples and bacon. She's also going to work lychees with orange. Pnina... forgot about candy canes. She's just going to have to smash the devil out of them. She's going to turn that into a mint cream. One minute, and Susan's chocolate doesn't work.

... and TIME. No one likes lychees with peppermint sticks. But for one of these ladies, they're going to love it.

Susan's meat is overcooked on one side. She's disappointed that it wasn't as rare as she had hoped. The bananas made up for it.

Susan's napoleon cream is wonderful. The Canadian bacon needed to be sliced a little better. The candy canes were also an afterthought.

Pnina's sauces were very creative. All three of her courses were very consistent, and very homey. Another problem, aside from the candy cane garnish, was that the dessert was a little bland.

The judges were perplexed. Some things were a little more successful with others. Pnina's dishes came from home and from the heart. Did she show creative growth? Susan, on the other hand, went from one place to the other.

So whose dessert is going to bank them $10,000? The final person... to be chopped... is... SUSAN. Flashes of brilliance overshadowed by a lack of coherence.

But for Pnina, everything comes together, so now $10,000 and the title of Chopped Champion are coming her way.

And one more person will share in her fate next week. Three more... will be 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