One-on-One with the Chopped Tournament of Stars Round 1 Winner

by in Shows, March 9th, 2014

Greg and BrandiOn tonight’s premiere episode of the new Chopped Tournament of Stars, four sports stars entered the competition to take on the mystery baskets for an opportunity to earn a spot in the finale. A $50,000 donation to charity and the title of Chopped champion are at stake. Each athlete is familiar to the competition of his or her individual sport, but when it comes to the Chopped kitchen, it’s an entirely different ball game. Only one proved to have what it takes to win, showing a true charge of the kitchen. FN Dish has the exclusive interview with the Round 1 winner.

The Baskets
Appetizer: organic green juice, alligator, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and mini rainbow marshmallows
Entree: turkey tenderloin, double-yolked eggs, finger limes and pattypan squash
Dessert: chocolate liquid breakfast drink, pink wafer cookies, crystallized ginger and red Bosc pears

Elimination Details
First Round: Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Second Round: Charles Oakley
Final Round: Greg Louganis
Winner: Brandi Chastain

Judges: Geoffrey Zakarian, Alex Guarnaschelli and Marc Murphy

BrandiProfessional soccer player Brandi Chastain came into the competition as a fierce competitor, and after making it through three grueling courses, she proved her might by coming away the winner and securing a spot in the finale. Brandi is one step closer to earning $50,000 for her charity, BAWSI, and the title of Chopped champion.

Which was the hardest basket for you and why?
I think the first basket because it’s the first basket. Before you get the basket, your mind is racing as to what would be in there, and all of a sudden you have the basket. So the hardest part is putting your head around those items and trying to come up with something. The first basket is unique in that way.

What were you expecting, coming into Chopped?
I guess I expected excitement and fun, but in terms of how it actually goes and what it’s like, I couldn’t have been any farther off in those two categories. It was completely different than what I imagined, in its function and its intensity. I feel physically drained yet I think it’s because mentally you have to be in those 20 or 30 minutes. I did not see that coming at all.

Who did you see as your biggest competition?
I had no idea. I mean, I knew that Greg, Charles and Jackie were going to be in the competition with me, but I had no frame of reference in terms of their cooking expertise. I felt that my biggest obstacle was me. Could I stay within my comfort zone with what I knew, or could I be just slightly adventurous?

BrandiWere there any basket ingredients you weren’t familiar with? Were you thrown off at all?
Yes, the little finger limes. I’ve never heard of them. They didn’t taste too different, but they don’t have a lot of pulp. In terms of how do they work, I had to guess. I didn’t taste the outside. I only squeezed the inside. I learned a lesson there that you have to taste the whole thing if I you’re going to use the whole thing.

What was your goal by competing on Chopped?
This competition had many layers for me. One, my son and I love the show. We watch it and record it religiously. So I wanted to do a good job for him. Two, I wanted to respect the judges because this is their life’s passion. So I wanted them to know I was serious about the competition — that I just wasn’t coming in here to fool around. Three, as a BAWSI girls’ ambassador, my goal is to win the $50,000 for charity and to impact more girls’ lives in a positive way.

What’s your strategy going into the finale?
That’s a good question because not knowing what it was like kind of gives you the freedom to just go, but now the tendency would be to overthink it. So now my strategy will be to keep it simple, not simple basic, but simple as to what worked and what could work potentially without going crazy.

Geoffrey said you moved like a professional chef and you baked a successful cake. For never having cooked professionally, how did you do it?
I know for sure that it came from playing soccer. My athletic experience and instinct just kicked in. You move in space and time and you have to see the big picture. You have to think ahead of time. You have to know the process of things, otherwise you’re going to get it wrong. I know that that clearly was an asset for me today.

Coming from sports you’re used to competition, but how has this culinary competition affected you and how you see cooking?
What I love is soccer. It’s been a part of my life since I was a little girl. I fell in love with it with the first kick, but there’s something uniquely special about being able to cook a good meal and for people to be able to sit down at the table, take a bite and go “mmm.” I feel that. I’m not only tasting it, I’m feeling it. Gosh, it’s good. I haven’t had too many of those moments, but I think I have a newfound appreciation for what food and good, healthy food means.

More Chopped Tournament of Stars
Round 1: Sports Stars Highlights (Photos)
Brandi and Greg Face Off (Video)

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Comments (13)

  1. keith goodrich says:

    Why are Marcus Samuelsson first comments so negative. He never has anything positive to say. he is the drum major of demeaning comments. For someone who started a career on 'Top Chef', a show for hopefuls, he beats everybody before him into the ground. Marcus use your thumb for something else other than where you are sticking it.

    • Abby says:

      Marcus wasn't even a judge, so…

      • Guest says:

        Also, he didn't start his career on Top Chef. He won a James Beard award for best chef in NYC several years before appearing on Top Chef Masters. I mean, the guy had two TV shows of his own before going on Top Chef. I also think his comments are usually pretty gentle.

  2. Jay says:

    Why is it so difficult for a person of color to win on chopped? I watched the celebrity sports' edition and Jackie or Charles were not permitted to advance to the final round – unbelievable. Then again it appears to be a pattern with the judges used on Chopped (with the exception of Marcus Samuelson) to always find a reason to to chop contestants of color before the final round. Even if they make the final round, they are not declared the winners.

    • Dillo says:

      That's baloney, Jay. I've seen several episodes where people of color have won. It's an extremely difficult competition for ANYONE. Don't play the race card where it's not appropriate.

    • SpenDoc says:

      My thoughts Exactly!!! The obvious prejudice of Africa Americans has been sooo obvious since the beginning of the show. I have been fan from the beginning & I'm appalled how they systematic dismiss people of color every show!! Of course I realize I' cannot taste the food but over & over again they accept mediocre contestant over someone of color. Even Ted who I liked – His comments & questions are so slanted toward dismissive & negative. This is my 1st post & I'm going 2 get involved to sponsors, mgmt, judges & people who watch the show 2 understand why Chopped takes an aggressive position 2 dismiss African Americans – unless they are clearly an acception. SHAME ON YOU CHOPPED & Food Network!!!!!

  3. Wilma Cole says:

    Let's put a new spin on "Chopped Tournament of Stars" by letting previous contestants be the judge for the Chopped judges. [polldaddy 7871290 polldaddy]

  4. Shayla haynes says:

    Kids Should Have A Chopped Because I KnoW I Would win

  5. Trinnette Jordan says:

    i feel the same way sorry to say it those judge's just aren't for the people of color and once every blue moon will they give us a shot as being a chopped winner sorry to say it but u all no it's the truth

  6. Unknown says:

    Not only are you blind you also must be deaf. The only judge on the show who is pretty much negative is Chris Santos sometimes he says a tiny positive comment then he counters it with a huge negative comment and criticize the contestants way more than the other judges ever did. If anything Marcus is one of the nicest judge on the show.

  7. Dave says:

    The race card would be played even if it was a contest for the whitest person alive.

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