The Other Side of the Chopping Block: One Chopped Judge Moves On, Three Say Goodbye

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 30th, 2012

chopped judges
Last night we watched one of the most anticipated Chopped All-Stars episodes of the series. Four Chopped judges — Alex Guarnaschelli, Marcus Samuelsson, Marc Murphy and Chris Santos — took their place on the Chopping Block to compete for the fourth and final spot in the finale and $50,000 for their charity.

If you missed the show and recorded it, don’t read any further — we’re about to break down the episode, divulge the winner and chat with the runner-up.

The baskets:
Appetizer: potato pancakes, purple kohlrabi, Korean melon and goat brains
Entrée: rack of Berkshire pork, kusa, grape molasses and preserved duck eggs
Dessert: cake flour, farmers’ cheese, baby beets and cola

Elimination details:
First round: Chris Santos
Second round: Marc Murphy
Final round: Alex Guarnaschelli
Winner: Marcus Samuelsson

You’re a chef by nature. So which side of the Chopping Block do you prefer (judge or contestant)?
Honestly, I like both. I think it’s very important to have the perspective of both sides of the table. Cooking on Chopped is a very humbling experience. So is becoming a chef. What looks so easy when you’re at home watching is so much harder in real life. I highly recommend experiencing both sides of the Chopping Block.

alex guarnaschelliIn the appetizer round, you said your dish was, “A tribute to every bite of acidity that I’ve missed sitting there as a judge.” What’s the most common problem you see as a judge in a dish?
The most common problem is that everyone has great ideas, but there’s not enough time with the clock. Twenty minutes is so tough — 30 isn’t much better. If the clock weren’t there, there would be few technical issues. But then it wouldn’t be Chopped.

What was it like being judged by Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian when you’re his sous chef on Iron Chef America?
Geoffrey is a very objective judge who doesn’t allow himself to be clouded by personal relationships. I felt great about it.

Geoffrey was worried that when you added the water to the pork that it was going to toughen the meat. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that.
I was trying to avoid being chopped and for that, all the rules go out the window. Luckily, my meat was cooked.

You’ve done Chopped All-Stars twice now. Is the third time a charm for you?
That remains to be seen in the future. It’s a privilege to be a part of a show that showcases the talents of up-and-coming chefs. I encourage everyone to take the risk of being chopped.

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