Chopped Up: Ted’s All-Star Finale Recap

by in Shows, April 3rd, 2011
The Final Four of Chopped All-Stars: Anne Burrell, Nate Appleman, Michael Proietti and Aarón Sanchez.

In this corner: Chef Michael Proietti, a fan favorite from season 5 of The Next Food Network Star, competing on behalf of the Jed Foundation;

Next: Chef Nate Appleman, James Beard Award Winner, Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chef cover boy, Iron Chef America challenger and competitor on The Next Iron Chef, cooking for the Kawasaki Disease Foundation;

And then: Chef Anne Burrell, star of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, co-host of Worst Cooks in America, and longtime right hand for Mario Batali on Iron Chef America, competing to help the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation;

And, finally, the Chairman of Chiles, the Tortilla King: Latin-cuisine impresario Chef Aarón Sanchez, beloved Chopped judge, veteran of Iron Chef America and The Next Iron Chef, co-star of Chefs vs. City, playing for the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

The day had finally come. We started with 16 chefs competing for $50,000 to be awarded to a charity of their choice and in the end, it all came down to dessert. I don’t think we’ve ever seen competitions this close or food this outstanding. This competition has been rigorous for the contestants but almost equally challenging for the judges. Every deliberation in this All-Stars series has been tough. These contestants have been consistently dishing up truly killer food under nearly impossible conditions.

All-Stars judges Marc Murphy, Alex Guarnaschelli and Marcus Samuelsson faced tough decisions on the chopping block.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating — with this caliber of contestants there is virtually no room for error. Unfortunately, Chef Michael Proietti learned this the hard way right out of the gate. By grabbing the blender instead of the mixer, Chef Michael made a mistake that sent his appetizer to the block. The heat from the motor cooked his eggs slightly, which caused his aioli to break down. He gave us two great performances.

If the contestants thought the rabbit kidney in the Appetizer basket was a tough protein to handle, that was nothing compared to the goat in the Entrée basket. Judge Alex Guarnaschelli wasn’t far off when she said that there were four contestants in the entrée round and the goat certainly was a presence. All three contestants struggled with how to cook the less-than-tender protein in the 30-minute time allotment. Once again, Chef Nate pushed himself to think outside the box and he grabbed the meat grinder — a tool never before used in the Chopped kitchen! Chef Anne broke the goat down like a professional butcher but was a little heavy-handed with the tomato paste — a mistake that cost her the competition. Anne, you are a rock star!

For Chef Nate, it all came down to dessert. He fought hard for his charity, the Kawasaki Disease Foundation.

Turning the final corner to the dessert round, Chef Nate and Chef Aarón were neck-and-neck. But after the entrée round basket, the dessert basket certainly seemed like a vacation. A vacation with $50,000 riding on it — $50,000 that would have a huge impact on one of the chosen charities. Chef Nate used the dessert strategy that won him the last competition: He raced to the ice cream machine, and he got it, pretty much assuring that Aarón couldn’t use it (he’d have to have had enough time left for it to work, plus, he’d have had to clean it out). With ice cream off the table, Chef Aarón decided to risk creating a chocolate cake. Everything was riding on that cake. Unfortunately, it came out of the oven a little dry—and this season of Chopped All-Stars was history.

It was tough to see our dear compadre Aarón take the long walk down that hallway and through the sliding door. But he was a valiant competitor, he won one episode and made it to the last round of the big kahuna, and that makes all of us very proud. And then, seeing Nate’s son, who survived a rare heart problem known as Kawasaki Disease, really brought home how personal this competition was for him.

Thanks for watching Chopped All-Stars—five of the most exciting episodes we’ve ever made, in my opinion. Somehow, I think the series will be back…

All best, Ted
New York City

Want more of Ted’s witty commentary? Follow @ChopTedAllen on Twitter.

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Comments (210)

  1. bobby_fillet says:

    Congrats to Nate but Anne is the winner.

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  2. sharon says:

    Why not have Aaron, Anne and Michael judge the cooking of the last round of judges (Alex, Marc and the other gentlemen, sorry i forget his name) from the finale of Chopped Allstars? Give everyone a chance to see the action from both sides of the kitchen.

  3. Pat says:

    I believe if it was between Chef Anne and Chef Nate on the dessert round Chef Anne would have won. She is definitely a better chef and does make great desserts. I think the judges are a bit partial in their judging. I think that they really wanted to give the $50,000 to Nate's charity and thus ruled in his favor. They all made unforgiveable mistakes. I believe Anne is a better chef and shouldn't have been chopped.

    • chibiev says:

      Nobody was beating Nate, because he was pouring his entire essence into cooking. That intensity was there from the beginning, but the second they showed him at the beginning of the finale, I knew he was going to win. He poured his heart into it and his creativity overshadowed any flaws in his cooking. He definitely deserved to win, because he outcooked everybody there.

  4. Clara says:

    Congrats to Nate! My son as well suffered from Kawasaki Disease not only once, but twice. He ended up with a hole in his left ventricle that has finally resolved. This is such a devastating disease, not only to the child, but the family. I hope the funds that you have won will work wonders in the research of Kawasaki Disease.

  5. special_k_625 says:

    I just finished watching Chopped All-Stars where Michael Proietti won. I was rooting for him all the way until he said that he wanted to win so bad that he'd kill a litter of puppies to win! What kind of sicko would say such a think? He has gone to the bottom of my list really quickly. His comment was totally uncalled for. I hope the producers get lots of mail from animal lovers.

  6. Dee Mac says:

    Have you guys considered doing an amateur version of Chopped…. Not exactly as amateur as Worst Cooks but for those of us who love to cook but do not make a living from it…. It would be interesting and educational to see the judges judge our food….

  7. Dee Mac says:

    Anne Burrell was the winner hands down!!!

  8. Kristen says:

    I don't know if this is the right place for this or not, but there should be a place for Chopped fans to submit ingredients for the show. I would like to see the contestants cook with durian and prickly pear.

  9. Foodie101 says:

    Did anybody just see the Alabama biaaaach on "Ladies First"? I almost stood up and cheered when she lost!!! …and I never get emotional.

  10. Open Your Baskets says:

    Hello –
    Ted, doubt you are reading this, but would love to see you host a Chopped ameteur show for wanna be chefs ! Obviously, the secret ingrediants couldn't be as difficult, but I would enjoy watching that !

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