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. FanFare57 says:

    I liked this round very much. The chefs were congenial toward each other and creative with those challenging ingredients. Looking ahead to next week's roster, I'm disappointed in the list. How can losers of the Next Food Network Star actually be considered "All Stars"? The title loses its meaning when also-rans are included, right?

  2. Jen says:

    It really surprised me that only 1 chef bothered to clip the nails….like seriously?? Even if you've never worked with chicken feet, you would think they would have known to do this simple step.

  3. Riley Applegate says:

    I live in the Denver area and would like to know the name of Keegan's restaurant.

  4. Sheila Womble says:

    I have a question about the main ingredient- chicken feet. In watching the prep, and then the final dish, I heard the judges commenting on the nails and them being cut off to be served properly. My questions is the fact that all the judges stated that they should have cut off the fingernails. Aren't they working on chicken feet (feet is usually where toenails are) fingernails are on hands/fingers. I am not in culinary, just over 50 years of home cooking and when I was little my grandma raised chickens and was always told about the toenails on the chicken feet. After the showing, it was late I think about 11:30pm, I had to call my daughter (she is studying culinary and in her second year) and I posed the same question to her, she though it was toenails also, but as she didn't go on the savory side, but the pastry/baking side she wasn't sure. Please clarify this for me.

  5. jeri says:

    Hey, WestCoastFan, did you see the ICA episode with Madison?

  6. Nura says:

    anyone knows why can not I watch the episode ? I am not in USA at this time

  7. jeri says:

    FYI: Marcela received certified chef from L.A. Culinary Institute, pastry chef from Ritz Escoffire School in France, teamed with Bobby Flay to defeat Morimoto/Zimmerman in ICA on new years edition.

    Jeffery graduated Calif. Culinary Acadamy, is a real estate broker, has been restauranteur for 25 years, and is a 2nd degree black belt in Katate.

    Aarti received her professional certificate from New School of Cooking, and has a degree from the Northwestern School of Journalism.

    So, they are not novices after all!!! Thank you Google.

    • jeri says:

      That should be Karate!!! Oops. Always open to correction, even by myself.

    • FanFare57 says:

      Great detective work, Jeri. You forgot one other credential for Marcela: She was a participant in the one and only season of Martha Stewart's Apprentice Show. That is the same show that launched the loud mouthed, multi incorporated,over rated: Bethenny Frankel into the Reality TV Show genre.

    • bobby_fillet says:

      The New School of Cooking is on the same level as a cooking class you'd take from your local community college. Arteeee Parteeeee is nothing but a blogger (hence the journalism degree) and can't cook anything original.

  8. Carly says:

    Last night’s episode was a great disappointment as far as I am concerning, these were the worst cooks I have ever seen expect for Jeffery. Jeffery was the only Chef that was creative with the pancake batter. The other Chefs made a pancake; a home cook would have utilized that ingredient better than that. In addition, most home cooks can make a pancake without burning them. When I was watching the Next Food Network Star I thought that Jeffery should have won instead of Melissa D’ Arabian, last night proved my point. Aarti is just not a good cook period the judges should have chopped her in the first round. As far as Marcela, she is pretty, but she failed to drain the tortillas anything you deep-fry in, hot oil any experience cook knows to drain on a paper towel this is cooking 101 the judges should not have to reprimand an experience Chef that has her own TV show with these simple cooking techniques.

  9. Frederick says:

    I will not watch any show in which Penny appears. The majority of the viewers who commented during NFNS were clear they did not wnat to see her any more. FN has ignored this and brought her back which raises the question of the value of making a comment at all. Maybe they will listen this time?

    • CJBC says:

      Maybe because Chopped is about cooking and not about personalities. Also, tbh, for every one person who doesn't watch, there will be 20 who watch for the perverse pleasure of hopefully seeing Penny get chopped.

  10. Mike says:

    I have to honestly say that some of the judges they get for chopped are complete idiots. They talk about how much they like one chefs cooking thru the whole competition and bash the other chef but when it comes to decision time they choose the one that they bashed. Hypocrites

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