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. AnonymousGuest says:

    I'm new here. I own a dog. I can't believe so many of you seem to equate the comment about jobs to the terrible things Michael Vick did.

    I'd like to keep insulting you all, call you liberal wussies or something, who are easily offended.

    If you care so much about animals why do you watch the show?

    Why aren't you protesting how animals are killed merely for humans to consume for their own pleasure.

  2. munchanator says:

    I thought the "puppies" comment was tasteless but it was just a bad joke and I don't think everyone should be getting so upset about it. Does anyone SERIOUSLY believe he meant what he said? Save your outrage for something more substantial, people.

  3. Sheila says:

    I was disgusted to hear that comment that Michael made. For someone that talked during the whole show about what a tough life he had a a gay youth, he should have been more compassionate. I never cared for Michael on the NFNS, and I care for him even less now. Comment or not, he clearly should not have been the winner. Brad put his heart and soul into the competition and should have won. I hope Michael gets chopped out of the finals as I would never want to see him win. I don't really even think that NFNS losers belong in an "All Star" competition anyway.

    • Jamie says:

      You are so right. People make comments about people and it is a terrorist threat. people go to prison for cruelty to animals. I think something more should be done other than sweeping it under the rug and saying he was only joking well guess what if he said that about a person he would be in jail. They need to make him accountable. Jamie

  4. Stephanie says:

    come on people its a joke. have you ignorant americans forgotten about FREE SPEECH?!?!?!?!?!

    • Anna says:

      Come on, Stephanie, apparently you will have no problem with me calling you an ignorant haughty sycophant with a leaning towards mumbo jumbo with hatred and animous towards the youngest of canine members. Apparently, you DO have a problem with FREE SPEECH, as those who are unhappy with his statement are exercising THEIR RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH, STUPID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! By the way, sentences start with CAPITALS!

  5. Kevin says:

    I was hopng for Brad to carry it all the way, but I guess that will have to wait for another tournament….

    Anyway, I think the results of the competition were accurate for what made it to the plates. Brad seemed to have the top dish (in the entree round), but Michael was more consistent all three rounds. So, cheers to Michael.

  6. Vicowan says:

    Personally I found it great to see these faces again and to watch them cook. My goodness about the comment. I am an animal lover and have a couple myself, and I did not take him seriously. In fact, I had to really think back to see what you all were talking about. He was just being sarcastically expressive about how badly he wanted the win. Anyhoooooo, it was fun to see them all in action again.

  7. Total Lee Shocked says:

    Wow, the level of outrage over a joke makes me very sad. Seriously people? If this gets you outraged life is going to be very difficult.

    So a lot of you hate hyperbole. How about sarcasm? Joy? Laughter? Or are you too busy obsessing over an obvious joke.

  8. I8U_U8Me2 says:


  9. Esther says:

    I really enjoyed wathcing this episode of Chopped, beacuse brings back Lisa. I like her a lot when she was on Next Food Network Star, but unfortunetly, again she fails to deliver and we stay without any argument to argue in her favor. I watch so many people came back after loosing the show, and always think about why not Lisa… Well, I guess here is my answer

  10. MML says:

    MM – I used to be a big fan of Chopped and of the Food Network shows but since the disgusting looking chef with the dirty fingernails (MICHAEL PROIETTI, LET'S BOYCOTT HIM AND NOT FORGET HIS NAME) who, as Food Network let us hear, proudly and clearly announced that he would "kill a litter of puppies" to win, was not only chosen to win, his implorable comment was not immediately edited out! Needless to say, I, and a great many others, are no longer Food Network viewers! Anyone disgusting can say what they want but it's up to the editors/censors and judges not to let such a man win and edit out his disgusting comments! Now so many of your viewers are offended and appalled to the point of boycotting your network! What kind of messages are you promoting? Disgusting ones! Too late for apologies and taking away his license and win but it would be good to do so anyway…

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