Now this is stone-cold talent: For the third episode of Chopped All-Stars, three of our four celebrity chefs have competed in the culinary Super Bowl that is Iron Chef America: Chefs Beau MacMillan, Anita Lo and Nate Appleman. And one of them, Chef MacMillan, in a battle I was lucky enough to judge, actually won there, an incredibly difficult feat. The remaining competitor, lovable Frenchman Jacques Torres, is one of the most famous and successful chocolatiers in the world—a force to be reckoned with in any dessert competition. But could he get there?
With competition this fierce, the judges literally squirm when they think a contestant might not get the food on the plate. (That also might be because they actually want to taste what these chefs are cooking!) And in this round, Chef Anita Lo miscalculated the number of ravioli she needed, and was one plate short. Usually a mistake that grave is more than enough to send a chef home—but in this round, it was Jacques Torres who committed the worse offense: first, he burned the chorizo until it was acrid, but more problematic, his addiction to all things cacao compelled him to smuggle chocolate nibs into the kitchen. Au revoir, Chef Jacques!
In the entrée round, Chef Beau MacMillan confessed that his Iron Chef win didn’t do much to prepare him for the Chopped judges. “There if you make a mistake you can recover,” he said, not mentioning that you also have two assistants to pitch in. “On Chopped, you make a mistake and it’s over.” And unfortunately, Chef Beau made just such an error, going overboard with soy and eclipsing everything else from the entrée basket.
Chef Nate found himself in the final round with the chef he considered his toughest competition: Anita Lo. And did he ever respond to the challenge! Chef Nate had done a little Chopped homework, and made a beeline for the ice-cream machine, getting it filled and running with 5-Spiced Frozen Yogurt within mere minutes! Definitely one for the Chopped record books. Chef Anita played up the peanut butter flavor in her dessert, creating a Napoleon that made Judge Alex Guarnaschelli nearly swoon. But when the chefs’ overall meals were stacked up against each other, Chef Anita’s initial failing to get that appetizer on the plate came back to haunt her. And so Chef Nate Appleman will get to bring his incredible focus and determination to the finale of the Chopped All-Stars competition.
Next week, the episode we’ve all been waiting for! At last, the number one request from Chopped fans is answered: We turn the tables on our own Chopped judges, and Maneet Chauhan, Geoffrey Zakarian, Amanda Freitag and Aaron Sanchez find themselves on the hot side of the Chopping Block. At stake: the last remaining spot in the April 3 finale. Stay tuned!
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