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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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Against the Tide
March 2

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...

Andres Barrera
New York City
executive chef, City Winery
Laurielle Carter
New York City (orig. South Carolina)
private chef & model
Michael Madigan
Nutley, NJ
restauranteur, Farm 2 Bistro
Erik Weatherspool
Toms River, NJ
chef/owner, Bistro 44

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

- Latin cuisine authority Aaron Sanchez
- Fine dining expert back after an extended absence on "NIC" Amanda Freitag
- "How to Cook Everything" author and "Chopped" newbie Mark Bittman

Round 1: APPETIZER (20 minutes). Our first course must feature...bittersweet chocolate, haba˝ero chiles, and fresh sardines.

Your 20 starts now.

Andres: Grilled Sardines with Salsa
Laurielle: Pan-Fried Sardines with Chickpea Salad
Michael: Sardine & Tomato Provenšal
Erik: Sardine Salad with Chocolate Vinaigrette

Fresh sardines are mild and delicious. Canned sardines are fishy and just terrible. With 15 minutes, Erik's pans aren't heating, while Laurielle is going for heat. Erik's hoping that his habanero salsa as a garnish goes over well with the judges. Michael's provenšal is a good idea, but with five on the clock, no one is ready as of yet. And Andres.... He hasn't even popped open his chocolate. Michael and Erik go the vinaigrette route. Laurielle is plating. She decides to use the chocolate as a garnish for the plate. Almost a copout, but let's see what happens.

... and TIME. Michael and Erik's plates are identical. This could be interesting.

Andres' dish is garnished with pico de gallo and Peruvian potatoes. The grill gives it a lot of earthiness. Mark wanted to feel more of the chocolate.

Laurielle's dish has a habanero citrus zest. The fish is nice, but is the chocolate for decoration or to eat? Aaron wants to see creativity.

Michael's and Erik's dishes. Nearly identical. The chocolate is the star in the plate, but the tomatoes don't bring anything to Michael's dish. Aaron wanted olives and capers. Erik's dish... a lot of love went into the sardines. A lot of flavor came out of it. The vinaigrette is silky, but Amanda's missing onions and peppers.

So the first round will be decided on creativity as the fish gets a lot of raves. Andres impresses. Laurielle and Michael disappoint. But who's going to get the knife first? The first person... to be chopped... is... MICHAEL. The vinaigrette was good, but the provenšal mixture was lacking.

Round 2: ENTREE (30 minutes). Time for celebration is over. Time for lamb loin chops, strawberries, celery root, and Swiss cheese is nigh...

... and time starts now.

Andres: Pan-Seared Lamb Chops
Laurielle: Spice Rubbed Grilled Lamb with Strawberry Gastrique
Erik: Cocoa-Dusted Lamb Chops

The lamb chops have a little tail. There's a lot of fat and flavor there, but if you leave too much of it, there's just a lot of fat and connective tissues.

Andres is adding celery root three ways. Celery root is similar to potato in texture, but it has that celery flavor.

Halfway in, everyone's going the puree route. Andres' is not going to congeal. Erik is going to try to add the cheese to his. Laurielle... a little bit of chicken stock to loosen it up. Andres decides to change his puree into a sauce. Andres' lamb isn't searing, so it goes to the oven.

Minute to win it, folks. And... Laurielle missed a plate. Can she get it in time? And... TIME! And Andres and Laurielle's dish are identical. WOW.

Laurielle's lamb flavors are perfect. The colors are perfect, but the puree is lost.

Erik's puree: "feathery and velvety". But you want different things... and chocolate was in two different courses. Mark doesn't have a problem with the cocoa, as it adds color. Amanda wanted the tail trimmed a little bit.

Andres' three ways are a chip, a sauce, and a salad with the celery root. It's well executed. The lamb, though... is lacking the sear.

So we're missing a sear, we have a redundancy of ingredients, and Laurielle's puree is lost. One of these is a $10,000 mistake. The next person to be chopped... is... ANDRES. Laurielle misses it by that much. He was ambitious, but the lamb did not have a sear and the dish didn't really come together.

Round 3: DESSERT (30 minutes). It's heads-up on Chopped. Between Laurielle and Erik are... corn tortillas, violet mustard, blueberries, and dried chipotle peppers.

We're 30 from a champion... Let's go!

Laurielle: Open Faced Cannoli with Violet Mustard Cream and Blueberry Compote
Erik: Chocolate Orange Mousse Napoleon

No one knows what violet mustard is. It's basically cooked-down grape juice with mustard. Other than that, this can be classified as "cruel and unusual punishment." You have to give tortillas a nice toast, because they're really raw.

Erik has a lot of experience, but Laurielle is going to give him a run for his money. The experts think that chipotles are not to be trifled with in a dessert dish. Laurielle and Erik are both whipping cream, Erik with a machine, Laurielle by hand. Erik's going to hope it chills as he has the time to get it in the fridge.

Laurielle's stacking her tortillas. With a minute to go, Erik is making his dessert. Will Chocolate Thunder come through in the clutch?

And... TIME! For the last time today, whatever is on the plate is in play.

Erik has delivered on his promise of chocolate. The elements work together, but the tortilla is very chewy.

Laurielle struck gold. Her tortillas are crispy, but hard to eat. Laurielle was going with sexy, but it really looks like a mess.

And now, let's go across the board. Erik won over Laurielle in the entree and the appetizer. Both tanked on the tortilla, but Erik was a little more intriguing throughout. Laurielle was much more restrained in her use of the ingredients. One of these approaches today... is worth $10,000.

The final person... to be chopped... is... LAURIELLE! She brought style to the kitchen, but we also needed some substance.

Erik had both style AND substance, as he takes the crown as this week's Chopped Champion and winner of $10,000.

He can rest, but four more chefs are waiting in the wings for their shot at 10 large, little knowing that three of them 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