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. casey says:

    nadia g chopped first???
    really??
    lame call guys:(

  2. Karl says:

    Judges got this wrong! Nadia G should not have been chopped. The other chefs finished plating because they merely put the ingredients on the plate. Nadia actually made something out of the ingredients. It would seem from the judges' reasoning, anyone could just place all ingredients on a plate and still would have won against Nadia by the sheer merit of having a plate finished.

  3. Guest says:

    … looks like "worst cooks in america" people… are cooking channel chefs (cooks?) … trying to compete on Chopped? I don't have access to The Cooking Channel .. looks like I'm not missing much.

  4. Carin S says:

    Wrong – very, very wrong! I'm not watching any more. You chopped Nadia G for having one of her balls slide off the plate over the guy that just put the mango juice in a shot glass? What the hell is wrong with those judges? I've seen episodes where someone didn't finish plating didn't get chopped because someone else had a worse error.

    Just too frickin' pissed off right now. I was looking forward to Nadia taking it home.

  5. tina says:

    i was a huge chopped watcher and a chef. I am totally disapointed in the judges. this has to be a set up. I have seen people not finish their plates and not get chopped but they chopped nadia and she was the best cook there. better than sonny thats for sure. I think the other chefs are scared of her and thats why. this was such an obvious set up. so not a fair show anymore and done watching it. i dont care who wins now. what a joke.now I know why I went to nursing school and went back to just cooking at home. espically if this is the chefs to choose from now days.

  6. nhat says:

    Thank for much

  7. Suzie says:

    You were WRONG to chop Nadia G. I have seen many episodes where a chef did not have food make it to the plate and they were not chopped. As per the judges, her dish was delicious and she is the only one who transformed all the ingredients. Why keep someone who puts mango juice in a shot glass or who puts a hunk of banana bread on the plate over someone who was creative and made a delicious appetizer. This HAD to be a setup from the beginning. This was VERY wrong. I may not even watch it anymore.

  8. Peggy Jupp says:

    Nadia G got screwed! She transformed all of the ingredients and had the misfortune to have one ball slide off the plate. It wasn't as if she wasn't ready. Gabriele just threw his mango juice in a shot glass. Where's the transformation in that??? and then he did much the same thing on the main dish – just boiled the pierogi instead of doing something with it. He should have been the first chopped. Judges have overlooked a missing plate or ingredient before if the rest of it was primo. Nadia G – I give you props for standing up to the judges and calling them out on the mango juice! You have BALLS and you rock!

  9. Toni says:

    Nadia G was not treated fairly and the judges should have taken into consideration that her ball fell off. Maybe she should have done the 50 seconds rule and gave judge Zakarian's his ball. I was very disappointed in Zakarian – his disdain for Nadia G was sooo evident. He showed no respect to her and the dish she prepared. He should stop looking down his nose at Nadia G and other women chefs – show them the respect they deserve!!! You are not the innovative chef Zakarian while Nadia G's show is entertaining and her recipes are great. Watch her show Zakarian and try her recipes – it will help you become a better chef and better judge. I still can't believe that you are an Iron Chef.

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