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.

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Comments (50)

  1. Nicole says:

    TERRIBLE CALL! Nadia G should NOT have been chopped in that round! Hers was the best and it wasn't like she didn't finish, it just fell off the plate! I've seen plenty of people not chopped for missing a plate. The Corcos guy should have been chopped first, NO QUESTION!

  2. TKC says:

    Nadia G got screwed and so did all the viewers. I love Chopped but may not even watch any more of this round of All Stars – could barely finish watching last night…

  3. Janet says:

    I've noticed for a long time a double-standard on Chopped. Men are given a pass for missing ingredients, not being very creative, etc., while women chefs are routinely punished severely for the same or lesser flaws. Chopping Nadia G while giving a pass to Gabriele was a farce. I recall one female chef being called out by a judge for doing a little happy dance when she thought she'd finished her dish and then had to hurry to get one last ingredient that she'd forgotten on the plate, yet Gabriele was not scolded for his arrogant celebration of his lazy dish. The judges concurred that Nadia's dish was the ONLY one that transformed all of the ingredients and in addition, it tasted GREAT. I've watched this show for a long time, but last night took all of the fun out of it. Nadia should not have been chopped over Gabriele.

  4. Jon says:

    Can you guys help me out here with a situation that Nadia G's elimination brought to light? If you watch the show again, the replay CLEARLY shows that Nadia had 4 plates and 3 of them had the "balls" on them and it was the 4th plate that the appetizer bounced/slid off of. If there are 3 judges and 3 plates had the appetizer on it…why did a judge get the empty plate? For the TV drama? Doesn't make any sense and seems quite unfair.

    • Marilyn says:

      Good point, I've often wondered who got the 4th plate. Ted does not seem to do any tasting

    • MoHub says:

      The fourth plate is the camera plate, and any time a plate is not complete, it is always one of the ones served to the judges.

    • Rianne says:

      Actually, the forth plate is the plate that is photographed when the show the dish and the one that goes under the chopping block. It is the plate that looks the best and is the most clean…so if they miss one on one plate, the plate without food will always go to a judge. The show is evil like that xD

    • Mary says:

      I wondered about the 4 plates vs 3 myself…why would thye not give the third plate with the food on it to the judge? Who..gets the 4th plate anyhow?

  5. Daniel says:

    Yeah, that's right…Nadia got chopped first, and I think she deserved it. It was close, to be sure – but the whole point of this show is to get the ingredients on the plate IN time. She didn't do it – she decided to start frying with 1:30 left on the clock, so she wasn't able to plate on time. Sure – JUST putting ingredients on the plate without transforming them is a fast way to get sent home…but just behind not getting your stuff on the plate. I understand that there have been cases where someone didn't manage to plate all of their food and survived to the next round, but these cases are rare and always those cases were where egregious errors were made by their opponents. In this case, everything else on Gabriele's plate was solid. The mango juice thing was pretty bad…I'll give you that, and I actually thought that he MAY get chopped for it, but I wasn't surprised when I saw it was Nadia. For the people who are blasting Zakarian for being sexist or hating female chefs…a female won the competition!!!

    • Carin says:

      Sorry; that don't wash. It's happened too many times before where someone didn't finish plating didn't get chopped because someone else made even a worse error (such as mango juice just served in a shot glass – come one; really?) And she plated on time – it was just unfortunate that in her hurry to be on time, one of her croquettes slid off her plate. It's not like she didn't have it ready. I'm thinking this wasn't really an issue about not plating on time. She did; it just didn't stay put. And Jeffery is a big ass; "I didn't get one" – they saw what happened. Still hold it was total in justice that she was cut first. So very wrong. It's the next day and I'm still pissed off.

      • Daniel says:

        Listen, I agree – the mango juice in a glass was terrible. And honestly, I would have liked to have seen Nadia go on…I think we would have seen a more interesting second (and possibly third) round from her than we did from Gabriele — but still, I don't think that her getting chopped is this big travesty that everyone is making it out to be. She did NOT plate on time. The food needs to be on the plate to be plated. It fell off because she didn't allow herself enough time so she just THREW it on the plate attempting to beat the clock, so when the clock was done — her stuff wasn't ready. I feel like on Chopped All Stars the contestants need to bring more than we'd see from run of the mill competitors — and running out of time/not plating is a cardinal sin on this show. It can be argued that not transforming your ingredient (or even really incorporating it into the dish, honestly) is also a cardinal sin and we can agree to disagree about which is worse — the point is that Nadia getting chopped didn't come from left field. It isn't like she was the only one who had a complete plate, everyone else forgot an ingredient and she still got chopped – THAT would have been a travesty. This is just the way the game goes. Please understand that I agree about the mango juice thing – I do, but one thing I will say to that is that you serve the course as a whole…often with a theme…and his theme (lame as it was) was this idea of a breakfast in bed – so he DID put together what he was trying to do — Nadia did not, at least not for all of the judges. Again, I think that we would have seen more interesting things from Nadia had she been allowed to stay, but I understand why she got chopped.

      • Jeitee says:

        Completely agree…can you say rigged?? There were two other competitors that should have been chopped that round and Sunny was one of them.

  6. Steve Brooks says:

    Nadia G got should have easily won the first round. It was totally unfair. Bad call!!!!!
    The self proclaimed sandwich guy is no big deal. He's way over ratted!

    • MoHub says:

      Nadia G's elimination was bogus. Just because one croquette skidded of the plate. This sort of thing has been forgiven in the past, and she was the only one to totally repurpose all the basket ingredients. I can't believe Gabriele got away with serving the banana bread as toast slices and simply putting the mango juice in a shot glass. Regular Chopped contestants have been eliminated for less.

  7. kim says:

    I have been watching this show for a while now and this has to have been the most inconceivable injustice I have witnessed on this show. I have noticed several of the judges can be condescending when dealing with contestants. I honestly never paid attention to the fact it is usually against female chefs until last night. To the shows producers get new judges if the one you have suck. The viewing public for the most part can't stand condescending idiots that are suppose to be impartial.

  8. Cindy says:

    Nadia was a poor loser and lost for at least a half dozen reasons. Poor time management, particularly during the app round, separates the chefs from the cooks.

    She wasted WAY too much time with nonbasket ingredients, didn't start cooking until a minute and a half to go, did not leave herself enough time to plate, grabbed the hot croquettes out of the skillet with her bare hand, instead of with a utensil, THREW them at the plates, and then whined when she got cut. On top of serving to be cut, she was VERY unprofessional…

  9. Texas says:

    I can not stand Nadia G! I would rather blow up my own tv than hear her voice. And honestly there was only ONE Chef there. And he didn't win???? I don't need to know how to make sandwiches or anything Sunny ever made!

  10. Maria Fernanda says:

    Slimey Zakarian judging when he competes later on? That is like putting the proverbial fox in charge of the hen house. I predict that one of the so called "judges" will win. Food Network never has any other winners other than those on their payroll, so what is the point of watching? I doubt my comment will get posted.

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