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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 Notional Productions for Food Network
Origins Food Network Studios, New York City
Web foodnetwork.com/chopped
Airs 10p Tues, Food

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A is for Apple, U is for Udon
August 16

Another four chefs, another three baskets, and another $10,000 to the chef with the best menu.
Christopher Thames
orig. southeast Texas
caterer, Distinctive Fare Catering
Debra Whiting
Hector, NY
chef/owner, Red Newt Cellars Winery & Bistro
Denis Weekes
New York City
executive chef, World Yacht
Raffaele Spadavecchia
Brooklyn, NY
executive chef, Scottadito Restaurant

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

- American cuisine expert Geoffrey Zakarian
- Fine dining specialist Amanda Freitag
- Latin chef & restaurateur Aaron Sanchez

Round 1: APPETIZER (20 minutes). On the menu today for round 1 are... udon, watermelon radish, razor clams, and pickled eggplant.

Who wants 20 minutes? I got'em. You got a dish?

Christopher: Cold Udon Salad with Shaved Eggplant
Debra: Warm Udon Salad with Razor Clams
Denis: Warm Asian Style Udon with Razor Clams
Raffaele: Exotic Caponata Insalata

All of the dishes look VERY VERY SIMILAR.

Christopher's dish shines in its being served cold. But it needed some sort of flavor or salt. Debra's salad is warm, sweet, hot, and attractive... but there's a bunch of grit from the clams. Denis' noodles are colorful and vibrant, but Geoffrey's mouth is on fire. Raffaele's dish is well balanced, but it needs a little salt.

The first person... to be chopped... is... DENIS. Noodles were overcooked, and the spices were - no pun intended - way overboard. Let this be a lesson: use your time wisely.

Round 2: ENTREE (30 minutes). Who wants another box? Here we have... sweet vermouth, leeks, French fingerling potatoes, and live diver scallops.

... and time starts now.

Christopher: Pan-Seared Scallops with Roasted Potatoes
Debra: Scallops in Creamy Vermouth Sauce
Raffaele: Pan-Seared Scallops with Vermouth Reduction and Leek Pesto

Debra's sauce is wonderful, and the bacon was a smart touch. But the bacon needed to be cooked a little bit more. Raffaele's pesto is very flavorful with the mascarpone, but the scallops are over, and the potatoes have no flavor whatsoever. Christopher heeded the call to creativity. His scallop is cooked to perfection, but Geoffrey's scallop is sandy and Aaron's leeks are underdone.

The next person... to be chopped... is... DEBRA. The wilted lettuce was bland and without purpose.

Round 3: DESSERT (30 minutes). This is for money. In the baskets for dessert... Thai basil, marinated cippolini onions, black Oxford apples, and rolled oats.

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

Christopher: Oatmeal Cookies with Cippolini & Basil with Berry Soup
Raffaele: Sauteed Apples & Cippolini a L'orange

Christopher as a rule does not cook with alcohol, because he spent a long time getting clean and sober from it. So he's flying blind.

Raffaele's apples were well caramelized, but where are the Thai basil? Amanda wants some bite with her apple. And the two components of his dish don't work together. Christopher uses his onion in the cookie, which is strong, but inside the soup, it mellows out. Speaking of the soup, the brandy flavor is very strong.

Powerful motivation for both chefs. Raffaele wants to take his son to Italy to show him where he's from. Christopher wants to get the recognition that he deserves. Good flavors in both menus, but time management gives Christopher the edge.

So who gets the money and who gets the chop?

The final chef... to be chopped... is...  RAFFAELE. He has a simple approach to cooking, but through the progression of his meal, there were a lot of flaws.

So sweet vindication - literally - is in Christopher's hands, as is $10,000 and the title of Chopped Champion.

And speaking of, in two weeks, a group of champions will return to the Chopped kitchen for another Champions Tournament. Someone's going to get paid. The others are going to get... Chopped.

(C-Note: per the black card at the end of today's episode...


Upon further review - read: my Google-fu is better than your Google-fu, Whiting was killed in a June 30 car accident. This episode was taped in November. More information can be found here.)

To see extras from this episode, or to apply to be a contestant on "Chopped", visit the official website at www.foodnetwork.com/chopped