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. C Vera S says:

    Am I the only person who really likes Sunny Anderson? This is the Food Network, not the "chef's network". She is fun to watch and makes really good food. I am glad a home cook won and I hope she blows them away in the finale. She managed her time well and did her best. If any of the judges are reading this, at least one viewer supports your decision.

    • beachinfrizzy says:

      Nope, I like her too. She's down to earth without being 'cutsey' (like many FN "stars" I could name) and doesn't rely on schtick or dopey catch phrases (like many more FN "stars" I could name), and her recipes use accessible ingredients and equipment.

  2. Jacqueline Kennedy says:

    I was so looking forward to watching Chopped AllStars(1) But totally disappointed with the judges decision to chop Nadia G after her mishap. As readers have said above no one else incorporated all the ingredients in there baskets in the first round! She is a very health conscious creative chef…people shouldn't judge her by her appearance or her "no holds bar" personality …. there should be more people like her in this world!

  3. ECB Portland OR says:

    Am in the process of wathcing Chopped – Viewer's Choice 2013. One of the chef's did not get everything on his plate in round 2 but he did not get chopped because his dish was very good. Come on – Nadia got screwed!

  4. Shirley says:

    Hey there everyone,
    It's TV, not real life. Somebody has to go home after each round. It's just a game.
    As a previous responded said, on the top of the list for elimination is NOT SERVING A JUDGE FOOD..
    It could be wonderful, but they don't all get a taste, then you're toast. Those are the rules.

    • beachinfrizzy says:

      Thanks Shirley. All of the dishes had flaws, the other 3 didn't transform an ingredient (or two) and Nadia served an incomplete plate. Unfortunately when her potato ball hit the floor it took 3 of the ingredients with it…and with Zakarian getting that particular plate, I get the feeling he is the "senior" judge so he probably had the final say. I love Gabriele but I don't think he really "got" what the Chopped competition was all about, he got a reprieve in the 1st round but didn't learn f rom it and transform his pierogies (although, neither did Sandwich Dork…he just sliced it in half) so I can't complain about his going in the 2nd round. Sunny won and deservedly so, because she made a concerted effort in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds to incorporate ALL the ingredients PLUS ensure she had all of the plates complete.

    • Carin says:

      If they would be consistent, I'd say, sure – don't give a complete plate, get chopped. BUT they are very inconsistent in this area. I have seen numerous times someone who didn't finish plating not chopped because someone else that round did something worse.

      And it is real life for Nadia G and the other contestants. What a silly thing to say. Yeah, it's TV, but these are chefs playing for their charities. It means something to them; otherwise, why would they bother?

      So, since the rules are inconsistent, that's why most folks are up in arms over Nadia G being chopped over the other 3, especially when being told by the 3 judges that her dish outshone the other 3; that she was totally able to transform all the ingredients and make it tasty, too.

      So, sorry, Shirley; I'm still pissed off. It was wrong Sunday night and it's still wrong today. I keep coming back to this website in the hopes of seeing "MAN WE SCREWED UP! We're gonna do a do-over!" Unlikely, but ya nevah know!

  5. alandla says:

    What did they use under the cloche to show that she was chopped?
    Why wasn't that plate served to the judge?

  6. Jean says:

    Why don't chefs use a PRESSURE COOKER more (I haven't seen once yet) and I am a true Chopped viewer. so whats up with that??

  7. MoHub says:

    One thing that really gets me is Jeff Mauro feeling that he is obligated to turn everything into a sandwich. Yes, I know he's the Sandwich King, but most chefs with a specialty are anxious to show they have a range beyond whatever label they've been given. For instance, Elizabeth Falkner and Duff Goldman have repeatedly worked to show the public that they are able to do more than just pastry. To my way of thinking, Jeff would actually gain credibility if he made something other than a sandwich

  8. that_guy says:

    The judges made the right decisions, Nadia and Gabriele behaved a bit unprofessional in an All Star competition. I figure if you're an all star, you should know how to move something hot from point a to b. Then the whole wine drinking instead of double checking, and adding to finished dishes was asking for it. The judges had the right idea, congrats to Sunny!

  9. @marthabea32 says:

    Food Network: stop giving viewers "JeffMauroritis": admiti that you made a mistake making him a Food Network Star and get over it, he doesn't have the charm neither the knowledge to be 'royalty' as you call him. The Nadia G. elimination is a clear indicator about the show being 'arranged', but it was impossible to overshadow Sunny, an experienced and knowledgeable chef . Shame of you "judges."

    • beachinfrizzy says:

      Agreed Martha, it appears FN is bending over backward to Make Jeff Happen. He wasn't funny during his run on NFNS and he's not any funnier now, so I don't know why either he or the Network want him to keep pushing the schtick. I can see the next stop for him being yet another DDD imitator a la "Outrageous Food" "Meat and Potatoes" "Eat Street" "America Eats" etc. but he'll go around eating…wait for it…sandwiches. Yawn.

  10. sherman says:

    They did it again! The same ole judges have their preconceived "winners" in their egocentric ARROGANT minds before the show even starts! They CUT Nadia G…obviously the most talented but not to the hootie-tootie likes of the judges especially that G. Zakarian chef! Miss Nadia was by far the only chef who had the best tasting food as judged by all the judges But then she gets axed because one "ball missed the plate! And it was not like the others prepared food that was so good or even close to the taste of Nadia's little balls! The others were even criticized by how plain their food tasted, and the mediocre presentation was poor too for all the others!
    So now you had 3 inferior chefs who competed to determine who is the better of worse cooks ….
    Won't watch the rest of this competition now as can see the Food Network most likely already has the winner pre-determined! What's the sense when you know they let inferior chefs scoot on by picking on the rest so they have something nit picking to get the others out!
    Just like the fiasco in the last "new Iron Chef" of last year. SAme thing happened week after week!
    Obviously this not about who can make the BEST tasting food, but who the judges like the most!
    Nadia G. got Chopped by having the best tasting food! She was right when she remarked in her cute Italian
    saucy and sweet sarcastic voice " juice in a shot glass" ….is better than what I did?"
    These judges are dull, mean-sprited in some of their comments to the ones they don't like and are in essence now make the show unbearably unwatchable!
    There are plenty of good chefs on FN who are funny,witty, and with pleasant personalities. But no, they instead bring these flat-heads to comment on good people who deserve better!
    Good-bye Chopped all stars! Not worth the time nor is it "a fun" show anymore! These judges are the epitome of snobbery that until lately was not as flagrant.

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