Chopped Up: Ted’s All-Star Recap, Round One

by in Shows, March 6th, 2011

Chopped host Ted Allen weighs in on Round One of the most exciting season yet.

Dog lovers everywhere can breathe a collective sigh of relief: Michael Proietti pulled it out in the dessert round to win the first round of our Chopped All-Stars series, a full-on face-off between four fan favorites from The Next Food Network Star. We’ve had our fair share of aggressive competitors on the show, but I think Michael is the first one so dedicated to culinary victory that he’d threaten puppies in exchange for a win.

Michael Proietti is the first to move on to the Chopped All-Stars finale.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Michael was joking and would never harm a domestic animal, excepting, perhaps, a lobster. He was, in fact, arguably the sweetest and definitely among the funniest contestants ever to compete on The Next Food Network Star—both major reasons we wanted him to compete in All-Stars. But it was his cooking skill, not his personality (or even his elaborate hair) that now have taken him to the April 3 finale, where he’ll compete to win $50,000 for the charity of his choice, the Jed Foundation.

All four Food Network Stars came in with a bit of strut — cooking under time pressure must be a little like childbirth (or so I’m told); you easily forget the pain until you’re right back in it. But, swagger will only take you so far; as always, there can be only one Chopped champion. Lisa Garza, who came in complaining of being robbed on Star, committed one of the most fundamental sins possible in a competition food show — not just failing to get all the mystery ingredients on her plates, but failing to plate three out of the four! Her plan for the dish, a combination of fish roe and eggs that evoked classic Scandinavian fare, would surely have pleased Marcus Samuelsson had she been able to complete it. But even though Alex Guarnaschelli implausibly seemed to be fighting to keep her, Lisa didn’t seem surprised to see her dish on the Chopping Block. There have been rare occasions when a Chopped contestant has moved on to the next round even after omitting, say, a single basket ingredient, but they are extremely few and far between.

Brad Sorenson went up against Michael in the dessert round.

There’s a tough cookie in almost every basket, and in the entrée round, that prize went to karela — a bitter melon from India. Brad Sorenson had never tasted this difficult fruit, and for a moment it looked as if that inexperience was going to take him out; Marcus found Brad’s karela so unpleasant that he asked the chef to taste it at the Chopping Block, and then seemed to get a little bit of pleasure watching Brad literally swallow that bitter pill. Ultimately, Michael was the most successful is getting the bitterness out of the karela via blanching. And although Debbie Lee had the best fregola—because, let’s face it, everything really does taste better with a little salty, smoky pig—she had the worst partridge. And there was no coming back from ruining the central protein. So dessert was left to the boys.

In the last round, anything can happen: as they keep telling us, most savory chefs prefer to leave the sweets to someone else. But Michael and Brad brought their ‘A’ game to dessert, both smartly using the blast chiller to speed the process. And although Alex argued strongly for Brad’s dessert, once all the dishes were stacked up against each other, it was clear that Michael had taken the day. The judges felt he was able to consistently create the most balanced dishes out of the mystery ingredients. Congrats, Chef Proietti!

Now, if you thought that episode was amazing, stay tuned for Chopped All-Stars Round 2 next Sunday at 9pm/8c, featuring Food Network chefs Anne Burrell, Claire Robinson, Robert Irvine and Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman!

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Comments (409)

  1. P.J. says:

    Chopped has reached a new level of idiocy watched a rerun from Feb. of last year and what do you know the women was chopped in the second round…(SURPRISE!!!)…but this time it was because her first round was sooooooo good they were a little disappointed with her second round. But one of the guys that got through had dropped the meat on the floor,picked it up and just used it WITHOUT rinsing it off! Oh,hell just shoot me now! It is offical chopped is on my list of crap not worth watching!

    • PANDORA749 says:

      I TOTALLY AGREE, REPLACE THOSE JUDGES. WHAT HAPPENED TO THEIR STANDARDS? THE GUY THAT DROPPED THE MEAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ELIMINATED. OK JUDGES, EAT YOUR MEALS OFF THE FLOOR FROM NOW ON, YOU'VE EARNED IT.

    • Roman says:

      I just watched an episode where one of the competitors left out one of they mystery ingredients (candied fennel seeds) and they still kept him. The judges reason for cutting him was a joke, especially when the other competitor seriously overcooked his meat. What a joke!!

  2. Michelle says:

    …continued

    Of course Chef Sanchez needed to appear in the final round so that the show's producers could protect one of their own. However, to allow a fellow judge to win would appear entirely biased. Most clearly, the greatest amount of audience brownie points could be gained by awarding the $50K to the handsome young father of an adorable child who suffered from the disease Chef Appleman competed to help.

    It was such a surprise to the judges that Chef Appleman won that they called The USS Enterprise and had them beam little Oliver to the sidelines of the kitchen so that when Chef Nate proclaimed his only desire was to go home and see his son he need not wait a heartbeat. Zap… your son just happens to be on the sidelines? Seriously.

    Was Ann's nephew back there as well? I doubt it.

    Continued one last time in replies:

  3. Rome says:

    If I can make a request for the next All Star Chopped. I would LOVE to see Chris Santos compete with some of the best restaurant chefs in the nation because the dude is the most negative opinionated nit-picky critic I have ever seen in my life. A real turn off. Every time the camera turns to him for his opinion, I have to fast forward because it doesn't suit the energy of the show. Chopped is one of my favorite cooking shows. Keep bringing those crazy ingredients.

    Suggestion: Have you considered making the 3rd judge a "People's Choice" judge? Just a thought.

  4. text donate says:

    Love this show and the food network!

  5. Bonnie says:

    Just out of curiosity, does Alex Guarnaschelli have broken neck? Every episode, she's tilting her head sideways and looking up at the contestants out of the corner of her eye. It's quite annoying, actually. She has that look that she's better than everyone else. I'd like to see her on Top Chef, Iron Chef, etc., to see how far she can actually make it, instead of sitting back just stuffing her face. There are shows I won't watch when she's judging because she annoys me so much

  6. jennifer j says:

    I love watching Chopped but I get ill looking at all the sweat rolling down into the food…Makes me not only not to want to eat out, but especially not eat where they will be cooking….I think they should all be required to wear hair coverings with sweat bands….

  7. PEter says:

    All i remember about Michael is that he likes breaking guys hearts.. trust me

    • Tee baby says:

      I thought it horrible when they chopped Chris for leaving out the pork rinds but allowed Jason to continue even though he left off the bean puree. They said that they saw potential in Jason but I think that they just didnt even look for potential in Chris, just the opportunity to put him off!!! Unfortunately, racisim is alive and kick 'in. This reply really wasn't to you Peter.

  8. Jeff says:

    Rigged is all I can say about this show. If the final two have made it to the last round, then they should only be judged on their product of that round. Chopping someones dish based upon previous rounds is a certain indication that the producers can rig this show.

    I will not watch another episode. Shameful.

  9. Hank says:

    Rigged! The show is rigged to favor contestants that are non-white. Any episode that features competing chefs of color it is they that are given special treatment. Judges go the extra to compliment and not chop.

  10. Normally I do not read post on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to take a look at and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice post.

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