Four Gourmet Globetrotters Take on Chopped and We Chat With the Winner

by in Shows, April 16th, 2012

gourmet globetrotters
What do Marcela Valladolid, Keegan Gerhard, Jeffrey Saad and Aarti Sequeira have in common? They are masters in global cuisine and they spent several nerve-wracking moments together on the Chopping Block last night during the second episode of Chopped All-Stars. Last week, Michael Symon advanced to the finale as he took on his fellow Iron Chefs. This week’s episode was just as competitive, and some would argue that the ingredients were more challenging. If you missed the show and recorded it, don’t read any further — we’re about to break down the episode and chat with the winner.

The baskets:
Appetizer: pancake mix, strawberry papaya, blue foot mushrooms and precooked chicken feet
Entrée: maraschino cherries, peas in the pod, parsley root and tripe
Dessert: ostrich eggs, plantains, dried strawberries and galangal

Elimination details:
First round: Keegan Gerhard
Second round: Aarti Sequeira
Final round: Marcela Valladolid
Winner: Jeffrey Saad

We caught up with Jeffrey Saad, who battled a trained pastry chef to take the win in the final round. Here’s what he had to say:

After watching the Iron Chefs battle it out in the Chopped kitchen last week, do you think the baskets were harder in your round?
JS: Chicken feet versus pasta and Gouda cheese? You tell me!

jeffrey saadWe thought you had some really tough ingredients thrown at you (chicken feet, tripe, maraschino cherries, enormous ostrich eggs). Which was most intimidating to you?
JS:
My heart was pounding as large as the beef heart each time I opened up the baskets. There is a small window of delicious with these funky ingredients. It’s way too easy to have a bad day in the kitchen.

“The whole mantra with Chopped is that you don’t do the obvious, which is the case with the pancake mix.” You were the only one who didn’t create a pancake and it paid off. Is the technique of thickening soups with pancake mix something you’d recommend to the home cook if they were out of flour?
JS:
You know that famous TV disclosure, “Kids, don’t try this at home?” I think that is a blanket statement for Chopped. With that said, yes, you can get thickening power and a touch of sweetness, which almost always brings a dish into balance.

You prevailed against Marcela, a trained pastry chef, in the dessert round. Did you have the crepe idea in your back pocket? Geoffrey said your crepes were expertly made.
JS
: Marcela is so awesome. When I saw that huge egg, crepes were the first thing I thought of. You don’t have time to think of a second choice in the Chopped kitchen.

Did the experience of competing on Food Network Star prepare you for Chopped at all?
JS: I knew that the nerves would turn into rocket fuel so that was helpful, but Chopped is much harder. You don’t know anything until that basket opens. When it opens, you’re scared and then you have zero time to plan anything. You’re literally creating the dish as you run to the pantry.

Would you know how to handle ostrich eggs? Ignorant re: galangal? In Jeffrey’s cookbook, Jeffrey Saad’s Global Kitchen, he explores international cuisines and ingredients of all kind. Visit CookingChannelTV.com for a few of his recipes that will make you feel like an international all-star.

Tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c when four Food Network Star finalists — Justin Balmes, Penny Davidi, Chris Nirschel and Vic “Vegas” Moea— take their place on the Chopping Block.

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Comments (76)

  1. mountain girl says:

    I enjoyed last night's show! I'm so glad the chefs are competing for their charities and they had some tough ingredients to use. Ugh–chicken feet! I used to work and live in Asia and saw many preparations for chicken feet there, so I kept thinking of how they could be prepared and tried to send "positive thoughts" to the chefs! Congrats to Jeffrey! I am also impressed with Marcela and have just started watching her show when I can–looking forward to her new show. Thanks to all the chefs for their efforts on behalf of their charities!

  2. Murch says:

    It was a great show. Thanks to Food Network for bringing it to us. Marcela Valladolid really impressed me, while Keegan Gerhard was a complete disappointment. Going in to the show I had Jeffrey Saad winning. It seems like he has the most experience with diverse foods, and that it often the winning factor on CHOPPED. The fact that only one of the contestants took the nails off of the chicken feet was mystifying as chicken feet have been featured on CHOPPED before. Although all of the contestants are successful in their careers, they seem only to have amateur cooking skills and food knowledge.

    • JLF says:

      Before this episode I had thought of Keegan only as a pastry chef. I didn't know he owned a restaurant too. But I did think he was possibly the weak link because while the other 3 have had competitive cooking experience, I've only seen Keegan do judging duties. Too bad his dish never came together since he was the only one to cut off those nasty toenails.

      • jeri says:

        I believe his place is mostly pastry but I think he offers food in the evening. I know where it is, I've seen it, but didn't stop. Perhaps I'll google it.

  3. melody whiteman says:

    I watch this channel all the time i love Chopped and last night was a great show keep up the good work.

  4. Doris says:

    I really enjoyed last night's show, but, if you haven't used chicken feet before, how would you know to cut the toenails off? Congratulations to Jeffrey on his victory.

  5. Suspicious says:

    I think this episode was much more interesting than the Iron Chef round. The fact that the mystery ingredients were more challenging might have had something to do with that. I never watched Jeffrey Saad when he was on NFNS, but considering the lack of appeal of Melissa D., I don't know how he lost. All she is fit for is her Kellog's and Hidden Valley commercials.

    • jeri says:

      Her show is a tad outdated too. Come on, the prices she tell for her proteins is old. When was the last time you bought ground beef for "about a buck a pound"? Not even on sale!!!

    • FanFare57 says:

      Jeffrey was and is far more appealing when he describes his food and the things he makes than hausfrau, Melissa. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against housewives becoming part of the FN line-up. However, I never cared for Melissa's grating tone and her hackneyed concept. I'm truly amazed that she's lasted this long on the air. When she won over Jeffrey, there was a huge outcry from we mortal fans. We were outraged that Jeffrey was passed over for the charm free Melissa. Hopefully, he'll receive more redemption in this contest.

  6. Mary1957 says:

    Glad Aarti lost. I can't stand her or her show. blech.

  7. stephanie says:

    I missed the show but will look for it in reruns – i really like Jeffrey

  8. Merrilee says:

    We are watching all the all-star Chopped episodes and my 9 year old now has me making her mystery ingredient baskets so she can try and cook with the all-stars. Look out, Food Network – I have a budding chef on my hands.

  9. nofeet4me says:

    With all the other delicious parts that a chicken has, who was the idiot that looked at the feet and said, "Mmmm, those look good, I think I'm gonna cook them up and eat them"??? Chicken feet? No thanks.

  10. Paul says:

    Chicken feet? That was almost as bad as octopus the week before. I had octopus once on a cruise and found it to be extremely chewy. I can't imagine getting it tender in the short time allowed on Chopped. Are pressure cookers allowed on Chopped?

    Living in NE Ohio, I am rooting for Michael Symon.

    • FanFare57 says:

      Octopus is wonderful if it is prepared properly. Too chewy is bad.

    • Cheryl says:

      I experienced the same thing with octopus nearly thought I was eating rubber… stopped with one piece. Glad to know that's not the way it's really like. I suppose it's like calamari then, (short cooking time) because I know they get rubbery otherwise. I read on chicken feet the other night and they say don't turn your nose up at them for the robust flavor they give and gelatinous richness (in broth.) Interesting read is all I'm saying. They almost made them sound kinda good minus the toe nails lol. Anyway, all noteworthy to those interested in cuisine.

    • jeri says:

      Too chewy us usually overcooked or undercooked. That's the hard thing about it, and squid. If you short cook it too long it's chewy, if you don't long cook it long enough it's chewy. Does that make sense?

    • MoHub says:

      Chicken feet is a staple in many cuisines. And my grandmother would never have made chicken stock without including the feet, even if they were removed later.

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