One Shining “Star” Joins the Chopped All-Stars Finale Lineup

by in Shows, April 23rd, 2012

chopped all stars food network stars
Vic “Vegas” Moea, Penny Davidi, Justin Balmes and Chris Nirschel know the pressures of competition cooking. They also know what it’s like to be in front of a camera. These four Food Network Star finalists gave it their all last season, but still came up short in the end. That wasn’t enough for them, though. They’re still out to prove that they’ve got what it takes and they’re still out to take down each other — they did just that on last night’s episode of Chopped All-Stars.

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: razor clams, breakfast radish, green grape tomatoes and shrimp paste
Entrée: culotte steak, Okinawa sweet potatoes, turnips and strawberry leather
Dessert: mango chutney, white apricots, blue cornmeal and bacon bits

Elimination details:
First round: Chris Nirschel
Second round: Justin Balmes
Final round: Vic “Vegas” Moea
Winner: Penny Davidi

We caught up with Penny, who from the very start wanted to take home this win. More than once, she emphasized during the show that she especially wanted to beat Vic, who made it further than her on Food Network Star. Well, she put her “knife” to it and succeeded. Here’s what she had to say:

Amanda said the chutney was the hardest ingredient in the dessert basket to work with. What was the hardest ingredient for you out of the three rounds?
PD: The hardest ingredients for me were the razor clams. It’s just not something you come across every day, or better yet, ever in Middle Eastern cuisine.

penny davidiDid you look at this as an opportunity to redeem yourself? You mentioned several times that the way your personality came across on Food Network Star wasn’t the real you.
PD: I absolutely looked at this as an opportunity to redeem myself and for people to see the human side of me — a loving and nurturing mother to five children. It’s very different when you’re competing on a show like Food Network Star. You are pulled away from everything. Your reality is very different in that state of mind. You have to focus on the prize and you can lose yourself completely.

Aaron really found your meat pounding technique to be interesting. Ted said it was, “Hard core.” Do you do that at home? You didn’t think twice once you couldn’t find the meat tenderizer.
PD: (Laughing) Yup! That is exactly what I use. It may not work for everyone, but a tender piece of meat is more important to me than an expensive manicure any day. Now, my pedicures, that’s a different story!

You were so confident with your second dish. Justin was beyond confident that he had “another round in the bag” after seeing your “dead, gray steak.” I saw the smirk on your face when he was chopped. How does it make you feel when he continues to say that he is more skilled than you and Vic — that you’re not at his level?
PD: Justin is an awesome chef, but what killed it for him was the fact that he’s trained to think inside a culinary box. He led our team to victory on a Food Network Star challenge, but on Chopped All-Stars, you have to bring your “A++” game. I guess he’s right, I’m not at his level — I’m better. Sorry, JB!

You said if the “Iron Chef America producers are watching, that’s what I want next.” What’s your ultimate goal?
PD: My ultimate goal is to have my own cooking show on Food Network. I want a show where I can bring modern Middle Eastern cuisine to the American kitchen — to not only educate the masses, but to empower them to go out there and try it themselves. I want to make global food accessible and approachable. I think I can be an ambassador to the cuisine of this region.

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Comments (134)

  1. foodytom says:

    does Penny have a picture of Bob with a farm animal?? why did they bring this evil witch back

  2. TheKims says:

    Penny S.U.C.K.S. !!! She should be completely eliminated from FN otherwise just lowers the quality of the channel. Take her face off our TV!!

  3. Mary says:

    Penny is horrible. I have never commented on this website until I watched Penny in action tonight. Her personality is self centered, spiteful, snarky and just plain mean spirited. Please, FN, stop shoving this shrew down our throats. If you ever give her a show, I will never watch your network again.

    • Lisa says:

      I completely agree! I am a Food Network fan, love the website, use the recipes, watch daily, but will boycott if I ever have to see Penny again. She is absolutely the most obnoxious, unpleasant, cut-throat individual, cocky and rude and scary. To assume that she knows more than Amanda Freitag was the last straw! PLEASE do not give her bizarre attitude any further encouragement. I'm sure there are many other cooks who understand and can impart knowledge of Middle Eastern food, and would be a pleasure to watch. She is unbearable!!

  4. Judy says:

    I have been watching cooking shows for 30 years (Foodnetwork for quite a few years now) but I will NEVER watch a show with Penny. I watched a version of Food Network stars a few years ago where this horse-faced bitch talked about how "bad" she wanted to win.. and I had to wish her ill. It has to be about your culinary talent and willingness to connect with an audience and not about how much money you'd like to make. Distasteful! Funny huh for a food network?! Penny needs to go! (look how quickly that ratty haired chick from several seasons ago is gone! – she is NOT the average american…we cannot relate and don't like you)

  5. Sara says:

    This bitch talked about wanting to repair the damage done to her reputation on Next Food Network star, but she just acted like a jerk through the whole competition again. I have never seen anyone take so much joy in the errors of another. I cannot believe a poser like her could even conceive of winning over the likes of Marcus Samuelsson and Michael Symon. This chick is completely delusional. If you want people to like you, why not try being a good sport, Penny?

  6. KAO says:

    A note to food network execs. Would never watch a show starring Penny, and would seriously consider changing my viewing habits, which include having Foodtv on all day every day. Do not need her kind of negative energy in my life. I am a feminist for life and she is the kind of woman that gives women a bad name. And a note for Penny: you did not beat Micheal Symon, he beat himself, so if you are bragging, stop it.

  7. Nina says:

    If Penny would win the whole competition, I will never watch CHOPPED ever again in life! And by the way you will not get a show, just forget it and move on already.

  8. wolfyfly says:

    she makes me clench my fists, run into the closet, and scream for hours!!!!

  9. wolfyfly says:

    penny is rude and nasty my whole family dislikes her!!!
    she lost FNS already and everyone thinks she is a witch so GO AWAY ALREADY AND GET A LIFE PENNY!!

  10. Debbie says:

    Bob Tuschman, you may like Penny, your viewers do not. I have seen annoying people on the Food Network, but she is beyond annoying, she is completely unlikeable. She has no redeeming features.

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