One-on-One With the Chopped All-Stars Round 4 Winner

by in Shows, April 28th, 2013

Chopped All-Stars Round 4: CelebritiesEarlier on FN Dish, we broke down the second round of All-Stars, including an interview with the 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.

Laila AliThe Baskets:
Appetizer: Vanilla cupcakes, chicken tenders, avocados and kochujang
Entree: Skirt steak, matzo crackers, sweet orange gelatin cups and collard greens
Dessert: Circus peanuts, passion fruit puree, graham cracker cereal and curry powder

Elimination Details:
Appetizer Round: Judy Gold
Entree Round: Johnny Weir
Dessert Round: Joey Fatone
Winner: Laila Ali

Judges: Maneet Chauhan, Geoffrey Zakarian and Marcus Samuelsson

Laila Ali is certainly known in the boxing world, but this culinary knock-out has been cooking since she was 12 years old. Self-taught, she’s now going to culinary school and cooks for her family five days a week. It pays off — Laila bested Joey Fatone in the final round and heads to the All-Stars finale next Sunday to compete for her charity, Healthy Child, Healthy World.

You mentioned you were going to culinary school. What do you plan on doing with that?
LA: Going to school is for my passion of cooking — I just want to add to what I know because I am self-taught. I want to learn more. I think I cook really well, but there’s so much more to know. I would love to have a professional career in cooking.

Were you worried about the burned items in today’s competition at all?
LA: You know I was concerned. The toast wasn’t a basket item, so the problem was really more my overcooked meat. I was still confident, though, because my flavors were there, and with just one small change, it would have been different. It really is a taste thing — I like my meat like that.

You conquered the ice cream machine today, which a lot of chefs can’t do in the Chopped Kitchen in that amount of time and it impressed the judges. Why did you decide to do that?
LA: I pay attention to detail. I knew how to work the machine, and I knew how to make the mixture. I knew I wanted to make an ice cream. When I took it out of the machine, I wanted to be safe-than-sorry, so I put it into the flash-freezer. Everyone seemed to like it.

Now that you know how to make ice cream, what flavor would you make at home for your family?
LA: I would make some sort of coffee or toasted almond. My husband actually likes graham cracker ice cream. The great thing about ice cream is you can put almost anything into it.

Going into the finale, Geoffrey said, “Stay the course.” What are some of the lessons learned from tonight that you’ll take with you to the finale?
LA: I know for a fact that some of my mistakes happened because of time management: for example, my overcooked meat. I wasn’t paying enough attention to it. Time makes a difference. I’m going to come in confident — that basket is the equalizer and at the end of the day, anything can happen. I know I can make the meal taste good. I just have to manage my time. Hopefully I’ll know all the ingredients in the basket.

Speaking of the basket, which one was the hardest for you tonight?
LA: The hardest basket was the first basket, with the cupcakes that came with the chicken because I normally wouldn’t put those things together — especially with the time allotted.

You said that you thought the judges went a little easy on you today. What did you mean by that, and were any of the ingredients new to you?
LA: While they weren’t “new,” I’ve never had to deal with incorporating cupcakes into a savory dish — the same with candy. When I said I thought they were going easy, I meant more the items found in the baskets. I’ve seen them give contestants a whole fish. That’s not just cooking it, you have to de-bone and fillet it. That’s what I meant by going easy on us.

If you had to choose between boxing and cooking, what would you pick?
LA: If I had to tell you right now, I would have to choose cooking. I have a passion for cooking, and my dream would be to have my own cooking show.

What would be the theme of your cooking show?
LA: It would be a show that welcomes viewers into my home — sort of a Rachael Ray environment where we could talk about what’s happening in the world and do some cooking. It would be for moms like me: busy and trying to make it all work. I wouldn’t come into the show as if I knew everything, I would just love to share what I enjoy doing and to learn along the way.

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Comments (21)

  1. guest says:

    I can appreciate the competitive spirit, difficulties in every basket, and that these are not accomplished chefs (ie. professionals) but almost every week someone cooks their meat too done and they get chopped! For Laila to have two courses with overcooked meat and then win, well I'm surprised! She managed to cover it up in the appetizer round with sauce. One judge even called it "incinerated" in referring to her meat in the entree round! I do not think Johnny Weir should have gone home after the entree round. It should have been Laila (IMHO). Sorry in advance to those who may disagree! Judges, you need to be consistent!

    • Shannon says:

      I agree, meat cooked until it's leather vs a small portion of delicious. I will take the small portion of perfectly cooked meat.

  2. Betty says:

    I'm just watching this show now, all I can say is I'm so happy they are all fighting for someone else :) God Luck to everyone & I would LOVE to be there to taste test if they need an alternate judge :) <3

  3. Les says:

    I've never heard the Chopped judges so gushy about any contestant as the were about Laila and her overlooked but delicious steak and her fabulous ice cream that didn't even set up correctly! Then I put two and two together! Laila mentioned that she wanted food to be her career. FN is so commercial now that I realized that the fix was in! Of Course Laila would win! I'm betting that she will very very soon be hosting her own show on FN! She has the looks, name recognition and now she has unanimous endorsement of the Chopped judges. Transparent much?

    • Shannon says:

      You may be right, she was just a guest chef on Paula. Probably testing the waters, and getting her groomed. That's how people like the Neeley's started.

    • lcsa99 says:

      I agree completely. Joey was robbed, and sadly, I think it may be because they want to give her a show, or at least have her keep coming back. Just like Alex won the Next Iron Chef, conveniently very close to the release date of her new book.

      Makes me very sad

  4. Greg says:

    All of the celebrity contestant were very brave to enter this competition, but I felt that Joey Fatone won fair and square. Laila Ali overcooked her steak which is a violation of an unwritten chopped rule, and she should have gone home after the entrée round.

  5. Meg says:

    I like Laila but how did she win with burnt chicken and over cooked steak? Should have been Joey.

  6. B.BROOKS says:

    Sometimes i think chopped should have a show where the viewers are the judge ,I think that is something different,I love the show i watch it all the time.Tell me what yiu think about that ,I am a very very excellent viewer, MRS, BROOKS

  7. Janice says:

    Is there a reason LDP was not competing? He was AMAZING on Rachel vs Guy!

  8. anna dorman says:

    I agree Joey was robbed.

  9. Tucker says:

    Didn't watch this episode. I was done with this competition with the elimination of Amanda. I had to watch her robbed on Iron Chef Redemption and now again on Chopped. Done with it. The competition is pretty much anticlimatic now anyway. Laila and Sunny don't have a snowball's chance of winning. They're up against two far more experienced and talented chefs. The finale will go like this: Appetizer elimination…..Laila. Entree elimination…..Sunny. Dessert elimination…..Scott. Winner: Gavin.

    • Penelope says:

      I agree about Amanda – still can't watch Alex on IC. I do think that Scott will win, however, over Gavin.

  10. karen says:

    so tired of the typical selection for the finale….white males and black females…..must be older white males running food network….pretty disgusting that they are still so threatened by their peers…..

    • Arye says:

      Tired of racist white women complaining. I watch the show for the cooking imagination–no matter who is coolking and I cheer everybody.

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