It's the most wonderful time of the year, and four
chefs would love nothing more than to stuff their stockings full of $10,000.
First, though, they have to survive three rounds of Christmas dinner.
chef/restaurateur, The Artist's Palate
New York City
New York City
New York City
executive chef, NYY Steak
You think you know the rules, and you may know the lifelines,
but this promises to be anything BUT your standard day at the park, because Ted
and company have a few wrinkles to add. First of which, your entire meal has to
be holiday themed.
meet the judges...
- Latin expert Aaron Sanchez
- Master executive chef Alex Guarnaschelli
- Italian maestro Scott Conant
Round 1: APPETIZER (20 minutes). And
because we live to give around the holidays, here are your first presents...
venison tenderloin, quince, and egg nog.
All three of those have to be in your
appetizer... in 20 minutes... from NOW.
Megan: Roasted Venison with Quince Chutney
Keith: Pan-Seared Venison with Egg Nog Emulsion
Jon: Venison Tartare with Egg Nog & Quince Puree
Jason: Cinnamon-Scented Venison with Quince Puree
Venison is easily coaxed with some additions of
flavor and essence. A quince is really tart. A good idea would be to pair the
quince and the nog together. The eggnog, though, is very cloyingly sweet. You
have to soften that up.
Jason went from 300 pounds to 180, and that makes
him a driven individual. It also makes him a very vocal individual. Much to
Alex's dismay. If that wasn't enough for you, Keith's blender is apparently
Three minutes left on the clock, and Jason has
his puree on a plate... and Jon has Jason blender in his hands. Megan's got her
plating done with a minute left.
And... TIME! I saw three chefs come to the next
round... That doesn't leave room for whoever loses THIS one.
Megan wins Scott over with the juniper in the
venison. Alex's spices are a little coarse, though. It ends up tasting like
potpourri. Aaron has to LOOK for the egg nog.
Keith's choice of marjoram with the eggnog was
very smart. The spice is a little assertive, but the judges like the doneness of
Jon's tartare was a bold choice. That and the
puree were very smart. But he admits to the judges that he didn't empty the
blender before he took it, so it's a question of whether we're tasting his puree
Jason's puree is velvety, and it goes well with
the meat. And once again, Scott demands respect at the Chopping Block. Just so
he knows, though... the two purees taste different.
So the first round is over, and Jon and Jason are
anything BUT in a jolly mood. Keith's meat was a little too crusty. Jason
couldn't accept that his venison was oversalted. Jon's bravery is to be
commended. And Megan... well, she had rolled potpourri.
So who's dish is on the Chopping Block first? The
first person... to be chopped... is... MEGAN. There was a technical flaw with
the quince being underdone and the eggnog being absent.
And Jason has to get a word in edgewise. Save it
for the next round, big mouth. You're going to need it because...
Round 2: ENTREE (45 minutes). ... You are
reading correctly. Forty-five minutes to create something from... kale,
rutabaga, marshmallows, and a 12-pound turkey.
And your extra time... starts NOW!
Keith: Turkey with Marshmallow Stuffing &
Jon: Pan-Roasted Turkey with Braised Kale & Gravy
Jason: Turkey with Rutabaga Puree & Sauteed Kale
A lot of time, a lot of options. the turkey has
to be roasted. It has to have a great skin on it to remind the judges of a great
Jason says that he swears that he's not here to
cause problems, just win money to get mom to Florida. Jason decides to make
bacon for his kale, while Keith decides to pound out his turkey. Jon's just
worried that his kale is going to be tough and stringy. Jason's turkey... raw on
Two minute warning. Keith is making a kale pistou,
and with that, a roasted marshmallow. Jason's turkeys... cooked. It means
nothing if it isn't plated.... NOW.
Ketih's plate has strings on it. Woops. The
rutabaga has a great flavor, and the marshmallow takes Scott back, but the
filling was like "overcooked ravioli filling".
Jon's puree brings the plate together. The kale
is also the star on the dish. The presentation could've been a lot better,
Jason's duo of turkey has a fantastic puree. He
also reflects himself the competitor in light and dark meat on the plate
together. But the chefs don't get enough kale, and the bacon overshadows
everything on the plate.
And Jason and Jon swear that everything is cool.
All three entrees had some great qualities. Aaron thought Keith was the most
creative of the group. Jon had a sleeper dish, very straightforward, had a lot
of depth, but missing a few elements. Jason's bacon was so unnecessary.
This is going to be a little tricky, but the
second person... to be chopped... is... JASON. Scott says that this is not
personal. The bacon was overwhelming.
Round 3: DESSERT (30 minutes). O little
box of ingredients, how still we see thee lie. That'll change quickly. Inside...
garnet yams, brie, sparkling wine, and cranberry.
Thirty minutes to one dessert... Get going!
Keith: Sparking Cranberry Soup with Yam & Brie
Jon: French Toast Sandwich
Garnet yams are usually a side dish. They'll make
a great dessert, but what will you do with brie? Keith has a cheese background.
Can he turn it into something fabulous?
Both chefs are basically winging it, but Jon is
winging it with a cranberry smoothie sauce. Neither chef is a pastry chef.
Halfway in, and Jon thinks that his French toast will hold true to the holiday
spirit. The judges think that dessert will be "the lasting memory of the
holidays". Keith's dish is very vibrant. Jon... is looking for something with 38
seconds to go. in the holiday spirit, Keith allows some of his nuts to go over
to Jon's side.
And... TIME! This anything but silent night is
going to end very richly for one of these two.
Jon's toast brings out the whimsy of the
holidays. The French toast is almost like a cheesecake, but it's very savory.
There's no real counterpoint to the dish.
Keith's soup is appreciative in the way he
attacked the ingredients. The cheese, though, is assertive. Keith wanted it big.
It's a lot to take in.
So now we're going to look at the desserts, but
also the overall progression of the meal. Does it invoke that gingerbread and
holly feeling. Jon's dish was familiar to him. The judges weren't crazy about
the yogurt and cranberry. Keith's dessert was a little overwhelming. Scott says,
"Neither of those desserts were correct." Jon though outside the box in the app
round, while Keith's entree was tops all around. This is going to be a close
one. We have Keith's holiday bling versus Jon's holiday at home.
One of you is $10,000 richer... The final
person... to be chopped... is.... KEITH. On one hand, he had spectacular
moments, but the problem was execution, and the flavors didn't gel with each
It's going to be a merry Christmas indeed for Jon
Bignelli, who takes away a check for $10,000 cash money.
We hope you have a great time watching this
special seasonal battle, and we hope you have a very very happy holiday, and
through the new year, may you never have to be... chopped.
To see this episode in its
entirety, or to apply to be a contestant on "Chopped", visit the
official website at