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. Sheryl says:

    I agree Nadia G should not have been chopped. She was the most creative with the ingredients. I have seen several shows that allow chefs to stay who didnt complete their dishes. I do not really care for her show, but fair is fair. I'm glad Sunny won.

  2. Rebecca says:

    I am in utter shock that Nadia got chopped first. Not only did the other chef simply pour mango juice into a shot glass, but he made breakfast/brunch during the appetizer round. Is it okay to serve steak in the dessert round then? Nadia was the only one who transformed all the ingredients and was the clear winner. I think Food Network needs to have an episode to bring back the chefs who clearly should not have been chopped, and let the fans vote on who competes. I nominate Nadia. So disappointed!

  3. 514sheila says:

    I think the judges are the ones who dropped the ball. Nadia should have slid through to the next round over a mango shot. I couldn't watch the rest of the show because I was so disgusted with that bad call!

  4. jerkstore says:

    This show has the most arbitrary rules, usually depending on the judges that are on there, but in my opinion, cutting Nadia G shows that Chopped will just change rules whenever they want.

    If they want people to like the show, maybe they should actually practice what they preach.

  5. jerkstore says:

    This show has the most arbitrary rules, usually depending on the judges that are on there, but in my opinion, cutting Nadia G shows that Chopped will just change rules whenever they want.

    If they want people to like the show, maybe they should actually practice what they preach.

  6. Lynda says:

    I didn't bother watching the rest of the show after Nadia was chopped. What a joke! It's time for some new Judges they're nothing but a bunch of arrogant, overpaid, overrated, cooks that call themselves chefs! Nadia clearly made the best dish yet she was chopped because poor Geoffrey didn't get a ball on his plate because it bounced off! What a crybaby! He still got to taste it and agreed that it was delicious and she made the best use of the basket ingredients so I (as I am sure we all ) want to know what the REAL reason is for chopping her?

    • Jose says:

      I can't believe these four people are called star chefs. They really didn't changed the ingredients into anything amazing. I predict the winner of this competition will be in the second or third round. They are the great chefs with the experience and talent to win. I'm looking forward to Chopped coming to Toronto! I've applied and would love to see if I'm up to the challenge.

    • Lynda D. says:

      I was sure that Nadia would had it in the bag to NOT be chopped, but was shocked when she was. She was so right when she said about the Mango Juice in the shot glass. They have chopped chefs before for not transforming the ingredients in the basket. She was the only one that did. I also turned off the show when she was chopped.

  7. drewridge says:

    Did anyone else notice that Sunny was never called out for putting a big slice of unaltered bread on her plate?
    Gabriele didn't do any thing with the mango juice and Jeff didn't do anything with the veggie terrine. The fix was in. Nadia could have made ten different appetizers and they would have found some reason to cut her. I doubt that I'll watch this show anymore, at least not when the same judges are on it.

  8. Mike says:

    Did anyone else notice that Sunny was never called out for putting a big slice of unaltered bread on her plate?

  9. Mike says:

    Nadia G should have been given credit for platting, it wasn't her fault that the one rolled off the plate. If it hit the plate it sholud be counted.

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