Chopped All-Stars Begins: We Chat With the Round 1 Runner-Up

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 7th, 2013

Chopped All-Stars Round 1 ContestantsTonight an all-new season of Chopped All-Stars began, and what better way to kick things off than pitting Food Network stars against their Cooking Channel counterparts? Stars dashed to deliver dishes before the clock ran out, and competitors bumped into each other, putting one chef’s dish at risk. Needless to say there was no shortage of drama.

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 runner-up.

The Baskets:
Appetizer: Veggie terrine, galangal, banana bread and mango juice
Entree: Rack of venison, seafood pepper pot soup, potato pierogies and okra
Dessert: Purple Okinawan sweet potatoes, coconut flakes, Calvados and marshmallows

Elimination Details:
First Round: Nadia G.
Second Round: Gabriele Corcos
Final Round: Jeff Mauro
Winner: Sunny Anderson

Judges: Chris Santos, Geoffrey Zakarian and Maneet Chauhan

Jeff Mauro on Chopped All-StarsJeff Mauro is the newest Burger Bash champ and the undoubted Sandwich King, but he couldn’t take the heat in the Chopped kitchen today — he lost to Sunny Anderson in the dessert round.

What was it like competing against your fellow peers?
JM: It was fun. I love Sunny Anderson. She is my Food Network best friend, and we get along splendidly. She makes me laugh, I make her laugh. So it works out perfectly. We bonded immensely after this round of Chopped. Nadia G. is also a character and fun to be around. Gabriele is a hoot with no filter, which I can always appreciate.

Which basket did you have the most trouble with?
JM: That’s a good question. Each basket had a troubling ingredient in it to me. Maybe that first basket in the appetizer round with the banana bread — and that banana bread — and that banana bread. Do you see where I’m going with this? It tripped me up. I still went in thinking “sandwiches,” and I think I made a dainty, elegant plate. That was my goal out of the gate. I didn’t want to create an appetizer that would blow their palate out immediately.

Did you go into this competition thinking you’d be making three sandwiches?
JM: I wanted to go in inspired by sandwiches. And everything was inspired by a sandwich, whether it was the tartine or the meat inside the pierogi. My last dish was made with chips, and that’s a sandwich’s best friend. I always have to represent the sandwich.

Was there any one ingredient you’ve never worked with before?
JM: The vegetable terrine and galangal. Everything else I’ve met along the way.

Do you think Food Network Star helped you prepare for this?
JM: Oh, yes. Food Network Star helped me prepare for this competition because I’m used to this process now. But it might be a hindrance, as well, because it kind of puts me back in that place where I don’t want to ever go again! It raises the fear and anxiety levels and you’re like, “Hey, I don’t want to be doing this right now — I’m nervous, I’m anxious, I’m going to blow it.” It’s a double-edged sword. But I’ll always be grateful to Star.

Going along with that, then, would you do this again? This is your second time in the Chopped kitchen. Is the third time a charm?
JM: Absolutely not. I’m done! I think I’ve satisfied my Chopped craving. I think I did good; I showcased a lot of techniques today. I’m more than happy doing Sandwich King and $24 in 24.

This is an All-Star competition, so who are some of your personal all-stars that you look up to?
JM: Geoffrey Zakarian, which made today even harder because he was a judge on the show. I just have a revolving image of him in my head. When he competes on Chopped or Iron Chef America, he always has the cleanest station. I keep that in my head. You start off with a clean station, but it’s hard to end up that way. So he’s definitely my inspiration.

Get More Jeff Mauro:

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Comments (50)

  1. kathy says:

    these so called chefs are some of the most incompetent cooks i've seen compete. appetizers are either sandwiches, breakfast or "balls' thrown at a plate. Entrees are again sandwiches or served with wine. desserts are either basic uneventful bread pudding or the 'I must have that recipe" sophisticated gooballs.

    How embarrassing…is this the best you have guys??? Pitiful.

  2. opal says:

    The appetizers were all failures IMO. Having said that I though Nadia had the most successful one and shouldve moved on to the next round instead of Gabrieli. Ive seen the judges excuse not getting all ingredients on the plate before

  3. Waldo says:

    Ladies. PLEASE pull your hair back ick

  4. Dave Bolls says:

    I really wanted to post a comment last Sunday, but it had to wait. Seeing the first round being re-broadcast for the third time(which made me immediately change the channel)finally forced me to comment on what most of us(thus far)have deemed to be a case of unfair judging in the case of Nadia G's croquettes. I'm not exactly impartial in this situation: I happen to really like Nadia and her show, and have an equal level of disdain for "Iron Chef" Zakarian(I have a hard time with him having that title, whether he earned it or not). With him as a judge on the panel, I think she was doomed to his stick-in-the-ass nature. I don't think it would have mattered if Chris Santos or Maneet received the "sans-ball" plate, he would have probably insisted on the ruling that we all saw. I also understand that this is the All-Stars competition and that the standards are more stringent, but that stringency should be equally applied. A mango shot(kudos to Nadia for calling the judges out on that), a slab of pan-warmed bread, and little blobs of veggie terrine buried under salsa on toasted bread are not representative of what I expect to see from All-Stars. Nadia used all the basket ingredients and transformed them, the judges(even Zakarian)agreed on the delicious nature of the croquettes, but was unlucky enough to have a croquette slide off the plate. Give her the pass to the next round with a warning to watch her time management and plating(which were lacking), and chop one of the others who "dropped the ball" on ingredient transformation. I've watched "Chopped" since it premiered, and truly hope the next four rounds are not subject to travesty of judgment we witnessed last Sunday.

  5. spatch says:

    They blew it…. I will not watch the show again until they bring Nadia G back.

  6. Penny Cillan says:

    Disgusted! (I never post on boards EVER!) So when I witnessed Nadia G get chopped I was beside myself! WTF?!?!
    This elimination is by far the most astonishing and undeserved I have ever seen in Reality Competitive Television!
    This show preaches "transform" the ingredients… And how often do competitors on this show move to the next round with empty plates? PLENTY!
    This wasn't about food or taste. This elimination was about time management and ego. Mr. Zakarian is to blame (and the producers) for allowing this atrocity.
    This show is hard to take serious. And did you notice how quickly the producers eliminated Gabrielle?! They knew they wronged Nadia G.

  7. Mayray says:

    Wow. I guess I missed a lot.

    University of Nigeria

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