Before tuning into the much-anticipated finale of Food Network Star tonight at 9/8c to find out which contestant — Ivan, Michele, Martie or Justin — will finally have their culinary dreams realized, watch a special episode of Chopped airing at 8/7c. Watch as past FN Star winners Jeff Mauro, Melissa d’Arabian, Aarti Sequeira and Amy Finley face the dreaded chopping block, judged by this year’s Star mentors Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis and Alton Brown. With unusual ingredients, you can certainly expect the unexpected from this showdown.
While Aarti has competed on Chopped once before, this will be Melissa’s and Jeff’s first time each on the show. “Food Network Star was still pretty fresh in my mind and I was anxious about doing another food competition,” Jeff says of being a contestant on Chopped. Jeff and Melissa both agree their first experience on the show was extremely stressful. “No matter who you’re up against in the Chopped kitchen, chances are you’re most likely battling yourself,” Jeff says. “We had a ton of fun and laughs during the process, though!” Aarti says that being on Chopped once before helped shape her mentality going into the show the second time around: “The last time I competed on Chopped, frankly I was so terrified of the whole thing that I couldn’t focus! This time, I decided to leave my ego at the door.”
Each of the stars will compete to win $10,000 for a charity of his or her choice. Jeff chose Opportunity Knocks, a local charity based in his neighborhood in Chicago. Aarti will compete on behalf of Central City Community Outreach, a charity whose mission is to influence and empower the lives of children, adults and families from Central City East (Skid Row) in Los Angeles. Melissa, who is competing for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, says her organization is particularly close to her, as she lost her mother to suicide at a young age. “For me, it’s all about awareness,” she says. “I want people to know that there’s a resource out there for them.”
Tune in for a Star-packed Sunday starting at 8/7c with Chopped: Food Network Star Edition and the season eight Food Network Star finale back-to-back.
Tell us: Which former Food Network Star are you rooting for on Chopped?