One-on-One With the Chopped All-Stars Round 1 Winner

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

Sunny Anderson on Chopped All-StarsWhat can you expect when you put 16 star chefs you know and love on the Chopping Block for charity? Inventive dishes, out-of-this-world ingredients, smack talk, laughs, sweat and a grand prize of $50,000 for the winner’s charity.

Here’s the breakdown: Each Sunday, a new group of All-Stars will compete for a spot in the finale. Tonight, viewers saw four familiar faces from Food Network and Cooking Channel in action in the Chopped kitchen. In the coming weeks, you’ll see mega-chefs, Chopped judges and celebrities battle it out to show the world they’ve got the chops to win the grand prize.

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.

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

Sunny Anderson on Chopped All-StarsCooking for Real and Home Made in America hostess with the mostess Sunny Anderson is just one step closer to earning $50,000 for her charity, N Street Village, after winning the first round of Chopped All-Stars.

What was it like competing against your fellow Food Network and Cooking Channel peers?
SA: I never really want to compete in the kitchen, and then when I realized who I was competing against, I said, “These are people who I actually know.” These are people I actually talk to. I didn’t want to compete against people I actually love and adore.

Which basket did you have the most trouble with?
SA: I think the first basket was the most troublesome for me because, one, it was the first. And then I saw the banana bread. I would never buy banana bread to begin with, I would just make it; I certainly wouldn’t have purchased that one! I mean, there weren’t even nuts in there. An appetizer with a sweet bread. I mean, how do you savory that up? I’m really thankful that the ball rolled off of Nadia’s plate, and I’m thankful that Gabriele poured the mango juice into a cup, because that’s the cushion I needed in order to stay the first round.

Were there any ingredients you’d never worked with before?
SA: The galangal — I never worked with it before, but I did know what it was, luckily. I’d never seen that seafood pepper pot soup in a can. I’ve seen some crazy stuff in a can, but I’ve never seen that in my life. If I saw that in a grocery store, I would run the other way. I want nothing to do with it ever again!

You mentioned that you stayed away from the machines (ice cream machine, etc.). Going into the finale, are you sticking with the same mindset?
SA: Listen, I didn’t want to do anything I’ve never done before. The closest I got to using something I haven’t before was the chill top (aka the anti-griddle) to make a granita. It’s like a speedy freezer. You know, I watch Chopped, and they love that ice cream machine. Even on Iron Chef America they make the craziest ice cream flavors. I’m going to stay true to myself. If I do make ice cream, I’ll be shaking it up — the way I make it at home. I can’t see myself chancing $50,000 to show off on a piece of equipment I’ve never used. I got real close tonight and I pulled my way back.

Speaking of $50,000, what’s the one thing you learned from tonight that you’ll take with you to the finale?
SA: I think the one thing I learned today that I’ll take with me May 5 would be getting all the ingredients in one bite. With Iron Chef, the mentality is basically just get it on the plate — or several plates. With Chopped, the judges want it all in one bite. They want every single ingredient in concert with each other. And I slipped a little bit in the second round when I put seafood pepper pot soup in a can and a dipping sauce on the side with some sour cream for the pierogi. But I think the only thing that won me with that was the pierogi, and I explained that I wasn’t trying to hide the ingredient but highlight it. Get it all in one bite — every single time.

How will your family react to this episode?
SA: My dad is going to be so proud of me, and that makes me excited because I live to make him proud. I have a really cool dad. I know, for sure, when he sees that rack of venison, he’s going to say: “Oh. Oh. No, no. Don’t do that, do this.” That’s what he’ll do.

You went head-to-head with Jeff in the final round, and even though he lost, you lifted the cloche and took a bite of his dish to go. That might be a Chopped first.
SA: The nerve you build up for competing on this show makes you hungry. I had one tiny bite of Jeff’s dish when he finished. And I loved it. Eating it helped to calm the nerves and, to support him. I love my man Jeff. And I loved his dish. It was finger-licking good. I don’t care whether you’re 3 or 30, Jeff’s dessert was good.

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Comments (53)

  1. Rudy says:

    I feel that the judges did not give Nadia G a fair "shake" she was the only one who did what she was instructed. WHAT WAS SHE TO DO? PICK THE FOOD OFF THE FLOOR? IM SOO UPSET !! NOT FAIR NOT FAIR

    • ECB Portland OR says:

      Right on!! I agree! It is not consistent – not everyone who doesn't get all the food on the plates has been chopped. If it's the rule then stick to it. Nadia kicked and blew everyone else away in round 1. And I also do not think she should have been eliminated. Sorry if this offends anyone but Jeff is a tool. I kind of did like him on NFNS but his show is a joke. Glad he was finally eliminated in this episode.

  2. R. Vance says:

    Bring back Nadia G. Judges should have chopped Sunny or Gabrelle based on transforming the secret ingredients into a cohesive appitizer. Wrong decision.

  3. casey says:

    horrible decision chop nadia g first!
    what a horrible call:(

  4. C says:

    This episode was a complete joke. Nadia G was robbed, and then Jeff completely outcooked Sunny and yet she somehow wins. I’ve finally given up on food network competitions, as the best chef clearly doesn’t win. This is shown blatantly here tonight and in the last Next Iron Chef competition. Absolutely ridiculous. If they kept Nadia she could have won. I feel let down.

  5. Dora S says:

    Nadia had the ONLY dish that used the ingredients correctly and transformed them, she should have picked up her ball off the floor and followed the 3 second rule! I can't watch any more, terrible call.

    • LovesCHOPPED says:

      That's absolutely disgusting. You know full well, if you watch this show regularly, that the judges will not eat anything that might be contaminated.

      Nadia was chopped because she failed to serve food to a judge. One judge got an empty plate with a schmear of sauce on it. Not only that, at least 3 of the 4 basket ingredients were in her croquette.

  6. scotty says:

    i call BS on this chop. as a hardcore chopped fan in disapointed that a crappy shot of juice got a higher billing than actual food. will not be watching this chopped bullshit any longer. later judges. you've all been chopped fools!

  7. Carin S says:

    In frickin' credible! Really? You chopped the one chef that totally transformed all the ingredients over the fellow that just poured the mango juice into a shot glass? How creative is that? Nadia G. was the best chef there. I know she would have gone all the way. Getting chopped because one of her croquettes slid off the plate is just way wrong. So upset right now. Not watching anymore. This was very wrong & I feel cheated.[polldaddy 7021450 http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/7021450/ polldaddy]

  8. Kar says:

    Not getting all the food on a plate has NEVER been the deciding criterion for getting chopped. If the show can't be fair, I won't watch. Nadia you rock!

    • lcsa99 says:

      What show are you watching? It has most often been the deciding criterion. Particularly in a situation like this when a lot of the other plates have flaws that are pretty evenly balanced.

      • ECB Portland OR says:

        See my post above RE: Chopped – Viewer's Choice. There are plenty of times when the chef who did not get his/her food on the plate did not get choppped – especially if they had a great dish.

    • MoHub says:

      Not getting all the food on the plate is a bigger factor in Chopped All Stars and Chopped Champions than it is in regular Chopped, because the bar is set higher. It's what killed Michael Symon in the finale the last time around.

      However, in Nadia G.'s case, this was the first time I've ever seen the food hit the plate and bounce off. I think every other incomplete plate in the past has been the result of the chef not getting one or more items on the plate in the first place, so I think some consideration of the circumstances was in order, and she should at least have survived the appetizer round, with Gabriele chopped instead.

  9. R. Sanford says:

    ok Nadia had 3 dishes n one sides of , 3 judges have a plate they can taste , what i see is men win this show n the woman judges really dont have a full say . the judges should never see whos dish is whos , that way they dont know who cooked what then after they have pick bring out the cooks , each judge uncovers the plate they dislike. , u say use contents in ur food , everytime i see this show the judges are making new rules as they go. not enough food on plat , or the one who wins has 1 frog legg on plate n its the meal , i love watching them cook , but from there on its a joke , get the show back n buddy buddy stops Ted if this ur showw

    • Diana Owen says:

      Food network pay attention to this idea! This would really make a good, fare, fun show to watch.

      Bad move on chopping Nadia.

  10. D Larson says:

    I've watched every episode of Chopped, several more than once. I've been surprised by some decisions, but, since we only get to hear some of the discussions among the judges, I never think much of it. Tonight, though, they were totally unfair to Nadia. She DID finish her dish, just one fell off the plate. That should not have disqualified her. Many times they've kept on cooks who actually DID NOT finish, because their food was superior. From the commentary, it was very clear she had the best dish, and was the only one to transform all the ingredients. The other three basically just put the banana bread on the plate. Jeff also didn't transform the terrine, and Gabriele didn't transform the mango juice. What a total ripoff.

    • lcsa99 says:

      I understand where you are coming from, because you are right, they have kept people who didn't finish in the past, but you have to keep in mind that this is an All-Star competition. Like the Chopped Champions episodes, they are holding them to higher standards in this episode.

      You also have to keep in mind that even if she did deserve to go on to the next round, there is no way she could have won with an empty plate. It was probably a lot more fair to keep someone who actually had a chance of winning, even if her food was technically better.

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