One-on-One With the Chopped All-Stars Round 2 Winner

by in Shows, April 14th, 2013

Chopped All-Stars Round 2Earlier on FN Dish, we broke down the second round of Chopped All-Stars, including an interview with runner-up (spoiler alert).

If you missed the show and recorded it, don’t read any further — FN Dish is about to break down the episode and chat with the winner.

Gavin Kaysen on Chopped All-StarsThe Baskets:
Appetizer: Black sea bass, wakame seaweed, cream soda and black garlic
Entree: Oxtail, labaneh, mustard greens and fruit cocktail
Dessert: Peanut brittle, Mexican chocolate, grape tomatoes and sponge cake snacks

Elimination Details:
First Round: Chuck Hughes
Second Round: Elizabeth Falkner
Final Round: Richard Blais
Winner: Gavin Kaysen

Judges: Chris Santos, Marcus Samuelsson and Maneet Chauhan

Gavin Kaysen, the executive chef of Café Boulud in New York City and a James Beard Rising Star Chef winner (2008), can add one more accolade to his wall of fame: Chopped All-Star Round 2 winner. He wowed judges with a refined entree and a nostalgic dessert to capture the win over Chef Richard Blais and advance to the finale.

leg of lambWhat was the hardest basket you dealt with?
GK: Honestly, it was the dessert basket because of those sponge cakes — they’re so sweet. I love the idea of Mexican chocolate and peanut brittle. They were no-brainers: Turn them into ice cream, done. But the sponge cakes and tomatoes threw me for a loop. I consider myself lucky, though. Throughout all three rounds, there was not one ingredient I didn’t know how to use.

You said, “I don’t look at dessert as a dish, but a complete meal.” Explain this statement more.
GK: For me, and I say this with all admiration, I walked into the Chopped Kitchen thinking I was going to create a three-course meal for the judges. I didn’t think about being chopped. I didn’t think about being sent home after the first or second rounds. So in my mind, the first course was going to be a crudo, the second course is something a little more bold, and the final course is more homey and robust. I love to make food fancy — to make it worthy to the point of saying, “Of course I should have done that. Keep it simple, stupid.” I told myself that all day: “Keep it simple, stupid.”

You had a quarterback mentality throughout the show. There were a lot of wrestling terms being thrown around. Why the sports terminology?
GK: First of all, people can relate to it — when you talk about sporting events and competitions. But I think that there is a lot of sports analysis and psychiatry out there for a reason. Those people that are very good at what they do, for example, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, etc., they must go through some sort of analysis or strategy to become who they are. You don’t just wake up and you have a gift. After going through The Next Iron Chef, I knew what it felt like to be the backup quarterback that never played, whereas today, I didn’t come in with that same mentality.

Going into the finale, what are you going to take with you?
GK: I’m going to continue to bring the same mentality as I brought today because it’s driven by Julian and the cause I’m playing for, Children’s Cancer Research Fund. This is the reason why I’m here. It’s the most important reason. I’m sure I made mistakes today. I’m going to reflect and focus on what I can do to make my dishes better.

You used both the blast chiller and the anti-griddle tonight. There are many chefs who are afraid to use the lesser-known pieces of equipment in the kitchen. What’s your take on using these instruments during high-stakes moments?
GK: Well, it makes a difference when you’ve used them before — and I’ve used both. I don’t know if I would have used them if I hadn’t. If your techniques are on spot, then the blast chiller should do nothing but help you. These gadgets aren’t supposed to save you; they’re supposed to help you.

Going along with the theme of the show, who do you consider an all-star in your life?
GK: My parents are my all-stars, but my wife is my number one all-star. She takes care of our children. She’s amazing.

More From Gavin Kaysen

Gavin joins Sunny in the finale on May 5. Who will join them next? Tune in to next week’s episode, on Sunday, April 27 at 9pm/8c, to find out.

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Comments (9)

  1. D.G. Picket says:

    This show was awesome! This is why we watch FoodNetwork.

    • danielle ouellette says:

      I was so disappointed tonight. I really really felt that Elizabeth was not chopped in the first round simply because she is a wonderful chef and a friend to all the judges. They had very little good to say about her 1st round, she left bones in her fish AND they were all curled up like something dead….I am beginning to think it's not how it tastes but WHO cooked it.. what a bummer…

  2. KLF18 says:

    What is up with this show, you have rules for a reason right? So why now in both episodes so far we've had two chefs move on to the next rounds and in this episode a winner in which they failed to use all the basket ingredients together. The first was the mango jucie by Gabrielle and now Gavin not using the labaneh. The whole piont is to cook with them all. Hell, I could make each one by themselves taste good. The point is to combine them. It should be automatic DQ if they don't. I agree with Danielle on her post. The judges pick whom ever they like the best and not by the rules. You might as well just tell the next two rounds of chefs to do whatever they wish with the ingredients in the baskets. Not even worth watching the final episodes anymore, knowing they don't have to follow rules.

  3. PK247 says:

    i thought the first round was close between hughes and falkner….so i kind of feel falkner dodged a bullet there, but then she was chopped out of the entree round when she had the strongest dish. i didn't understand that at all….kaysen didn't incorporate all 4 ingredients together and with blaise, well the judges even admitted that he did something similar to falkner but that hers was better….and yet she gets chopped because of "poor presentation". this was just a confusing episode….i think they wanted to make the dessert round more exciting by getting rid of the chef with a pastry background.

    and i agree with KLF18….gabrielle just putting mango juice in a shot glass and still surviving that round…that was brutal!!

  4. Kim says:

    I'm not understanding why the rules are different for the ALL Stars. During any other Chopped the chefs would've been chastised for taking a drink out of a container being used for a dish. Gavin took a drink out of the can of Cream soda before using it to cook., and another chef tasted a sauce with a spoon and then put the spoon back in the pan. Any other chef would have been Chopped for doing that. If the rules are good enough for regular chefs they should be good enough for All Stars.

  5. Wendy says:

    I thought Richard had this one. Chris Santos practically licked Richard's appetizer and dessert dishes clean.

  6. Tabatha White says:

    Just goes to show there is "politics" in the chef world as well as I believe Richard was far and above more creative and put it all out there with better dishes than all………………..

  7. Judy says:

    Richard got screwed.

  8. silky says:

    Has there ever been an African American to win any of these contests? Just asking love watchingthe food network

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