Dealing with regular basket ingredients is a feat in itself on Chopped, but working with themed baskets, like in the recent noodles episode, is pretty tough, especially when fresh pasta dough is an ingredient. The question is: Do you make pasta with it, or do you do something else? And will that something else be perceived as a cop-out decision? That’s exactly what went down when the judges took a stab at it.
In this episode of Chopped After Hours, Marcus Samuelsson, Amanda Freitag and Scott Conant cook with the entree basket ingredients. With sausage and meatballs, chayote squash, tomato sorbet and pasta dough, they make a variety of dishes, although only two of the judges use the pasta in its intended way. The running joke of the episode is that Scott made the pasta himself. “I was up this morning very early making pasta dough with my hands,” says Scott, beckoning the others to look at his overworked fingers, which leads to a conversation about Scott’s chest hair. But let’s get back to the cooking. “Thirty minutes to determine,” says Ted Allen, “who’s the best chef in the room?” The chefs happily take up the challenge, but Scott has to have the last words: “I’m already halfway there with my pasta.”
When it turns out that Marcus is making gnocchi and using the pasta “just to thicken the stock” for his sauce, Ted and the others can’t believe what he’s saying. “It’s not good enough for you?” Scott asks about his pasta dough. Amanda adds, “I heard him say that pasta dough was garbage and he threw it out.” But actually Ted takes the leftover pasta when he comes around with a shopping cart. Scott makes a special nidi di rondine, a rolled pasta that’s cut into rounds, then baked. “This is what I’m talking about,” he says. Although it looks messy, he promises it will eat well. And Amanda makes a ragu for her lasagnette, baby lasagna layered in mini baking dishes. “We really embraced the pasta, but you didn’t,” Scott tells Marcus during their tasting, but Scott still appreciates his fellow judge’s dish, even though the compliments may come off as insults. But just as Scott lays it down, Marcus picks it up. “I’m going to make a separation here,” Marcus says. “I don’t like you, but I like this pasta.” Everyone cracks up.
Click the play button on the video above to watch the entire After Hours episode and see the dishes Marcus, Amanda and Scott created. Then browse behind-the-scenes images for an insider’s look at the cooking.
Start a conversation with fellow fans and tell FN Dish in the comments below how you would have approached this basket: What would you make out of sausage and meatballs, chayote squash, tomato sorbet, and pasta dough?
Catch up on past Chopped After Hours episodes by watching all the web-exclusive battles online.