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. Paul B. says:

    I see the Foodnetwork will show this episode again this evening. It will be interesting to see if they edit out the comment that so many found offensive. The network would be severely intellectually challenged if they didn't.

    There were so many things wrong with the episode:

    1. We were promised cooking celebrities and we got also-rans.

    2. Judge Alex G. openly announced that she was biased and wanted a woman to win.

    3. The dog comment.

    4. The wrong person was declared the winner. Brad won by a mile.

    • Guest says:

      Brad has only been barely adequate in all of his competitions. Stop seeing him through rose colored glasses. He lost – be person enough to accept it. Don't whine, as so many others have.

  2. Guest says:

    I noticed that Liberty Mutual runs an ad on Chopped – says in part "…because every day, people chose to do the right thing." their slogan is "Responsibility Matters". Clearly the killing puppies comment should have been CHOPPED. By chosing not to edit it out, Food Network did not "choose to do the right thing" and being responsible was less important to them than generating publicity. (apparently they have so little faith in the show to generate interest on its own merits, which is sad…)
    Please consider visiting Liberty Mutual's website and dropping them a note, or calling their customer service line, and encourage them to withdraw their advertising from Food Network due to the lack of consistency between their brand identity and FN's core values.

  3. Lisa says:

    Oh my gosh, people really need to take a joke!!! Obviously Michael was joking. I think he was trying to state just how badly he wanted to win…. by doing something unthinkable. Honestly, you pet fanatics have nooo sense of humor. Get over it; it really wasn't that offensive. So far, I am really enjoying the Chopped All-Stars. I'll admit, I wasn't too excited when I realized the first episode consisted of past NFNS competitors but ended up enjoying the episode. I was glad to see Brad and Michael in the dessert round together and I think Brad possibly deserved to win but I didn't get to taste and experience what the judges tasted. I did think it was a bit ridiculous that Alex G. was trying to argue for Lisa Garza's deviled eggs. She left out three of the ingredients and how good could the deviled eggs have been?!! Anyway, I'll be tuning in next week. I can't believe there are people actually threatening to NOT watch food network or Chopped because of the statment about the puppies. No puppies were actually harmed in the episode!!!!

    • Guest says:

      Since we can't taste what they're doing, we need to pay attention to what they describe. Michael made a butterscotch sauce with the goat butter, brandy and I don't remember what else. That with the cheese, was probably a delicious combination. is it possible that Alex had never served cheese for dessert at least once in her life? And, most of all, Michael knew the qualities of paneer and was able to manipulate it and use it appropriately. Brad, unfortunately had no idea what to do with the paneer. Also, it looked like he didn't peel his carrots – he just cut off the ends and cut them up. Add that to his dirty fingernails, and I was more grossed out about that than the puppy comment.

      • Lisa says:

        Ick, good point!! I noticed the dirty finger nails too!! And, yes, I think Michael may have won the dessert round but it seemed like Brad was a little ahead in the first two rounds and the winner is decided based upon the entire meal. When the judges recapped they said Brad cooked his liver the best and his partrigdge was also prepared the best.

  4. hayley says:

    I tuned in to the last 5 minutes of the show tonight to see if they edited out the killing the litter of puppies comment, and what do you know, THEY DID!!! Wow!!! They must have gotten so many complaints that they realized that if they didn't do something, the whole series would be all about killing puppies!!! They replaced it with a contrite comment about hoping he won. It appearred to me like they must have had him come back in and retapped the comment this week. Whatever happened, I give FN credit for stepping up to the plate and doing the right thing by editing the comment out.

    • Tom Fujimoto says:

      Yep…i saw the last 5 mins and I can confirm that the "…killing the litter of puppies.." was removed. Thank You Food Network for listening to the pleas of your audience. :)

    • luvcookin says:

      It's good if they took the comment out, but what does it say about the FN that they let the comment in the first place?

    • gballs says:

      Food network should have had some balls and left it in..If people are that sensitive over a stupid pet joke they must be those low life vegans anyway…Get over it.

  5. mmthemax says:

    I always thought that fn was an honest network but from your network all-stars, my mind has been changed . that was the most dishonest show I have ever seen, it was fixed. the man did not even make a dessert and won, how can you win and not make the meal called for. If you tried to feed me a cheese sandwich for desert I would throw it in your face . please get honest.

  6. LCFRC says:

    It's very disappointing that FN pulled a "bait & switch" regarding Chopped "All Stars". Then for Michael to have made that comment about killing a litter of puppies just took the show & network to a new low, FN would have been wise to have edited that comment out but they didn't. Sure, Michael probably did not mean that but it came out of his mouth and on the air. Litter of puppies could have been a room full of babies, would the people defending Michael still be defending him? Puppies are babies. I liked FN and watched a lot of their shows but since Sunday night have chosen to watch other programs and just don't seem too thrilled about FN anymore, lots of friends have also done the same.

    • RaconteurYLH says:

      I agree that the "killing a litter of puppies" remark was in extremely poor taste. Kittens — that would be perfectly understandable, and most delicious I should add — but puppies? Pure barbarism!

    • car24 says:

      I totally agree that a "bait and switch" was pulled. The comment was way over the top but more aggregrious was the hype touting the show and we get 4 losers who are not FN chefs. Like you, my family and I will be watching other shows and less FN from now. We know it doesn't make a hill of beans to the execs at FN but they won't be getting as much attention and money for the products they advertise, at least not from me.

    • Rachel says:

      absolutely disgusting! WTF food network. Have you no editing capability or is it that chefs will kill and cook anything to get on TV

      Sickened completely!!!

  7. UCFAlum says:

    I am offended that everyone was offended by the puppy comment. That comment was pure Michael. Over the Top. I suppose those of us who are rational can understand a figure of speech. But, I am simply restating what has been said before. What I would really like to say is how offended I am the FN edited the comment out on the re-broadcast. Remember folks: "Freedom of Speech, just watch what you say!"

  8. grant says:

    How about some rabbits and by the way, dog taste like chicken.

  9. barbara says:

    I compliment FN for leaving the puppy comment out of the rerun,for people who found it acceptable.what difference does it make to you,but for those who did,we know new viewers will not have to experience the negative gut reaction,that a lot of us felt,the less bad feeling in the world the better,I can't see how a remark like that could make anybody feel good,positive will always win over negative

  10. Judy says:

    I looked forward for several weeks to see All Star chiefs battle it out. I was VERY dissappointed to watch the NFNS's losers on the show

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