Did You Miss the Meat? — Chopped After Hours

by in Shows, June 18th, 2013

In most Chopped baskets, it’s the meaty protein or shellfish that trips up competitors, what with these ingredients that tend to be difficult to break down, clean, and cook properly and fully in a hurry. But in tonight’s brand-new episode of Chopped, the contestants found themselves with vegetarian baskets, which meant that when it came time for an After Hours competition, judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Amanda Freitag and Marc Murphy were challenged to create entrees using golden beets, wheatgrass, tempeh and etrog citron.

While Alex and Marc admitted to being unfamiliar with cooking and eating these kinds of ingredients, Amanda told them, “I eat this stuff,” and she later admitted to being “a closet vegetarian.” For all three judges, the challenge was offering dishes that were both bold and hefty enough to be filling. Amanda stuck to a classic preparation of tempeh by featuring it in a spiced stew with curry, while Alex treated the tempeh like rice, turning it into a risotto-style plate with mushrooms and citrus. Marc, however, known for his fondness of meat-and-potatoes classics, made a tempeh-based burger that was anything but vegetarian, thanks to beef broth and bacon. After tasting each of their offerings, guest host Aarón told them: “I’m not crying for meat right now. You made satisfying meals that really sort of constituted a complete dish.”

Alex says, “I think it’s really great to have an experience where people can see that we, as judges, whether we’re cooking or eating these ingredients, we learn and grow from them, too.” But when it comes to the judges taking on mystery baskets, do you think these vegetarian-minded ingredients were challenging enough for them, or did the ingredients prove to be too easy of a selection? Did you miss seeing a particularly perplexing meat in the mix, or was the oddity of these products enough to satisfy your craving for the unusual? Which judge used the ingredients best in his or her dish, and whose final offering looked most appealing? Click the play button on the video above to see Alex, Amanda and Marc in action, then chat with fellow fans in the comments section below about what went down. Plus, browse behind-the-scenes photos from the battle to see inside the Chopped Kitchen.

<img style=”display: none;” src=”http://img.foodnetwork.com/FOOD/2013/06/10/TIRE_Amanda-Freitag-Marc-Murphy-Alex-Guarnaschelli-Aaron-Sanchez_s4x3_lg.jpg” alt=”” />

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Comments (63)

  1. Susan Malmay says:

    so what is tempeh

    • Ashley Anna says:

      It is fermented soybeans – it is dense like meat and textural. It is delicious – my favorite is the tempeh reuben. Although because it is fermented it is important to keep it refrigerated and fresh before consumption.

  2. Interesting says:

    Chopped seems to chop people in this order women first, African Americans and men last. There is a pattern 9 times out of 10.

  3. Marlene Carrero says:

    The "fix" was in! Really, my husband & I watch Chopped every week. You have a vegetarian chef who owns a vegetarian restaurant & SURPRISE NO MEAT, FISH or DAIRY. I couldn't believe it. He said he integrity , but when honey was in the basket, he used it to win the money. We are from Philadelphia originally & always want them to win, but not this time. When you sign up to be on Chopped you have to be prepared for any ingredient

  4. elizabeth says:

    it seemed a little unfair to have 1 contestant who was totally vegetarian, in fact vegan. I think it gave him an unfair.advantage. I watch chopped faithfully and this disappointed me. and what a surprise, he won.__

  5. Kari says:

    Vegan/vegetarian what? The food network having a show without meat? I LOVE IT and its about time. I have multiple food allergies and for health reasons I choose to be vegan-gluten free. Veggies rule!!

  6. John Campbell says:

    Just deleted Chopped from my Tivo. Don't act like it is a regular show and then "surprise" every basket item is Vegan. Say that up front, and I will switch channels.

  7. Jeff Geissler says:

    The worst episode of chopped I have ever witnessed. I was so bored I turned it half way through. A pure veggie chppoed, really??

  8. Julia Stein says:

    I am really outraged by this episode. In fact my husband and I stopped watching after the entrée basket ingredients confirmed that this was a totally unlevel playing field. If you want to have a vegetarian show either have one with all vegan chefs or with all normal chefs, but don't give one contestant a huge advantage over all the others. Not if you expect us to watch.
    In addition I do not believe that the vegan chef was not assured beforehand that he would not have to work with animal byproducts. I do not believe he would have appeared otherwise. In fact it would not surprise me if the idea for the episode did not come from him. Shame on all responsible for this travesty!

    • Barbara Pokras says:

      I thought all four chefs worked well with the baskets, though the addition of bacon with the dandelion greens and the use of chicken stock were not in the spirit of this episode's theme. Let's face it, these days, vegan and vegetarian diets are mainstream both for human and global health. The planet can simply not sustain a meat-based diet. The methane alone generated from the raising of cattle is a serious contributor to climate change. Kudos to Chopped!

      P.S. What is a "normal" chef?

      • jalp says:

        Actually, when I saw the addition of bacon and chicken stock I thought of the current Network Star contestant Nikki and her "meat on the side" concept. Whether or not I would make that choice, I can respect it — and perhaps even welcome it as a step in the same direction I'm traveling. . . .

  9. Ashley Anna says:

    Thank you Chopped! Congrats on highlighting Veganism on your show. I am a vegan that uses honey – only because I know where it comes from… the bees are happy and healthy and the queen bee's wings are not clipped. I understood his use of honey at the end. The sacrifice of doing so was worth winning to highlight the amazing foods that come from vegan cooking and to be able to give some of his winnings to animal sanctuaries. It is important to note the difference between vegetarian and vegan. Vegetarian being the absence of 'meat' and vegan the absence of any foods coming from an animal — dairy, eggs, and meat too. Thank you again Chopped. Veganism ends the slavery of animals, helps the environment and is good for the body (and the food is not bad either!).

    • Bucky Lapanski says:

      This is the problem with Vegans. You know the Bees are happy?? Did they tell you? I'm all for everyone living their own lifestyle but the assumed happiness of Bees is not only absurd, but condescending.

  10. Ardis Durbin says:

    We just went vegan for heart health issues three months ago. I wrote in and asked for vegan ism to be incorporated in FN shows. I don't know if that had anything to do with the show but I love Chopped and loved this episode. I can see what others are saying about the unfair advantage to the winner but it was a pleasure to watch him cook in the spirit of this episode since I am still learning to cook vegan. I really hope to see more of the vegan style of cooking highlighted more. Maybe Amanda Frytag could get her own show teaching vegan cooking since she seems to have somewhat of a handle on the whole thing.

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