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. Jen says:

    Omg! The idiocy of chopping Nadia over the chef pouring juice in a shot glass…. For real.? Nadia was the "only" one who transformed the items, and her food was great by the judges own admission, YOU judges 'dropped the ball here' I won't be watching any more of the episodes… Bring Nadia to the food network, she rocks and makes cooking fun. And that was sooooooo Nadia to call the judges on their stupidity… you go girl!

  2. rafael says:

    Judges are full of crap!

  3. rafael says:

    we should boycott show.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Really disappointed in the judges decision to chop Nadia G. in the first round. Gabriele should have been chopped. Loved that she voiced her thoughts on the matter because she was absolutely right!

    • Kelly says:

      I completely agree with you! Chefs leave items off their plates all the time and survive. But to put one of the items in a shot glass…that the judges refused to even drink?!?! I call BS. They don't like Nadia because she's too "real" for them. I love it too when she called them on it. You go Nadia G!!!

  5. Kase says:

    Why are you hating? Anyone who watches Chopped on a semi-regular basis knows there are certain things that almost guarantees an elimination. Not serving a judge food is probably at the top of the list along with not using an ingredient. It doesn't matter how good the dish was or how successful they were at transforming it. I don't remember anyone ever making it to the next round who failed to serve a judge food. There was no surprise that Nadia got sent home the first round. Sunny definitely was successful in the entree and dessert round. It's a combination of transformation and taste. The contestants have to try and find the right balance.

    • Guest says:

      Especially in the Chopped All Stars Round, they have to incorporate all of the basket ingredients! If they don't, they will be CHOPPED…Love this show!

    • Carin says:

      Sorry; you must not have watched too often. I have seen several times where someone not plating all 4 dishes didn't get chopped because someone else made a more grevious error.

      And in this case, what's worse, is that she did finish on time and she did plate on time. It just didn't stay put. And since her dish was so very superior to the other 3, there was no question in my mind that they were sending home the mango juice chef. I really think since Jeffrey was able to taste from his neighbor's plate that they shouldn't have penalized her. It was a freak accident that the ball slid off. And no one's hating – just very upset that a chef with talent got chopped over others that should've gone, instead.

      • Kar says:

        You are absolutely correct. Well said. And if judges do not apply the same rules every time, then the whole competition loses its purpose.

  6. Dee says:

    AS asomeone who has watched almost all chopped shows 98.8% of those who get chopped for leaving stuff off are good to great chefs but did not follow the rules in some manner. Truley it looked like time got her in the end because she got to rushed! to bad as fo the others oh well thats the way the cookie crumbles. Congrats To MS Anderson for hangen in there!

  7. Frank A. says:

    I was completely taken aback by Nadia's wholly unprofessional response to being chopped. Seriously, she had her mistakes as did the others, but to call another chef out after the decision has been made reflects poorly on her professionalism, or lack thereof. It's another reaffirmation of why I choose not to watch her program. She seems tacky at best, and has just proven it so again….

    • Kelly says:

      She was not unprofessional, she was stating it exactly as she saw it…and she was 100% correct! You must take food way too seriously…she makes her show fun and amusing. If you do not care for it, that's your prerogative; but that does not make her tacky or unprofessional.

    • Carin says:

      Oh, good lord; get off your high horse. She's an entertainer, ok? She has a fun show that's a blast to watch and you still learn a thing or five about cooking. Not your style? Cool – don't have to watch, but to call her unprofessional is uncalled for – I believe she was well within her rights to call the judges out on an obviously bad call. I couldn't believe the unprofessionalism of the judges to even have considered chopping her. I will repeat again: she did finish on time and she did plate on time. The ball slid off the freakin' plate. Very unfortunate, but she was the only one out of the four that totally tranformed all the MB ingredients. I'm beginning to believe the judges felt jealous and/or frightened of her.

  8. skipling says:

    I love all the Cooking Channel Chefs, but I really love Naida G and Gabriel. Bitchin' Kitchen' is always entertaining and I try some of her delish recipes later. But Extra Virgin is one of my new fave shows and Gabriele rules. He is a lover, a babbo and a beautiful chef. Not so competitive, but such a sweetheart! And a great Italian chef. His recipes are simple, fresh and wonderful — like everyone on the show. Bravo!

  9. skontos2020 says:

    I'm really surprised at the uproar of Nadia G getting chopped. I saw a dish I would never order or want to eat. Bottom line: Neither she or Sunny Anderson will survive against professional chefs in the final.

  10. skipling says:

    Feel like commenting again, because it just occurred to me that part of what makes Chopped work is the unpredictability. Machines fail, ingredients like haggis are vile, things burn, people slip, meatballs go flying and the person who is the most creative ,like Nadia G, may not win. That's part of the deal. It's entertainment, and it's interesting, even if not always a satisfying win.

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