All Posts By Ted Allen

Chopped Up: Ted’s All-Star Finale Recap

by in Shows, April 3rd, 2011
The Final Four of Chopped All-Stars: Anne Burrell, Nate Appleman, Michael Proietti and Aarón Sanchez.

In this corner: Chef Michael Proietti, a fan favorite from season 5 of The Next Food Network Star, competing on behalf of the Jed Foundation;

Next: Chef Nate Appleman, James Beard Award Winner, Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chef cover boy, Iron Chef America challenger and competitor on The Next Iron Chef, cooking for the Kawasaki Disease Foundation;

And then: Chef Anne Burrell, star of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, co-host of Worst Cooks in America, and longtime right hand for Mario Batali on Iron Chef America, competing to help the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation;

And, finally, the Chairman of Chiles, the Tortilla King: Latin-cuisine impresario Chef Aarón Sanchez, beloved Chopped judge, veteran of Iron Chef America and The Next Iron Chef, co-star of Chefs vs. City, playing for the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

The day had finally come. We started with 16 chefs competing for $50,000 to be awarded to a charity of their choice and in the end, it all came down to dessert. I don’t think we’ve ever seen competitions this close or food this outstanding. This competition has been rigorous for the contestants but almost equally challenging for the judges. Every deliberation in this All-Stars series has been tough. These contestants have been consistently dishing up truly killer food under nearly impossible conditions.

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Chopped Up: Ted’s All-Star Recap, Round Four

by in Shows, March 27th, 2011

In the last round before the finale, four veterans experienced the other side of the chopping block.

The cast and producers of Chopped get this all the time from fans, on Facebook, on the street, at festivals: Yeah, sure, those judges of yours can pick apart a dish all day long—but could they handle the pressure on the HOT side of the chopping block? For four of our judges, this episode finally put that question to rest for good.

From our newest regular critic, Maneet Chauhan, to veterans Amanda Freitag, Geoffrey Zakarian and Aarón Sanchez, the energy and enthusiasm was incredible—and so were the nerves! In the judges’ lounge before the battle, Geoffrey acted cool as a cucumber (as always), but I didn’t believe him. Aarón was hopping up and down with nervous energy and even more bluster than usual—a different person than the sensitive, hilarious judge you see seated at the Block. Amanda confessed to some butterflies, too, but as a formidable competitor who came in third on The Next Iron Chef, we knew she would be vicious at the stove. Maneet, also a NIC veteran, seemed the least ruffled to me.

For me, this battle was the most anticipated of the whole series. But for the judges, it was the most dreaded. It is not easy to criticize the work of your friends, colleagues and peers, face-to-face, on national television, let alone to chop three out of the four, and Alex Guarnaschelli, in particular, was not looking forward to it. But everybody came in knowing that this was for charity and for fun, and that only one Chopped judge was going to come out on top. So we started the clock and got down to business.

Of course, our judge/competitors had a huge advantage over the average Chopped contestant — they’re all top-flight New York City chefs with years of experience, they know the palates of their colleagues, they know the kitchen inside and out, and not only are they not afraid of cameras, they know how to seduce them.

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Chopped Up: Ted’s All-Star Recap, Round Three

by in Shows, March 20th, 2011
The third round of Chopped All-Stars featured four culinary heavy-hitters.

Now this is stone-cold talent: For the third episode of Chopped All-Stars, three of our four celebrity chefs have competed in the culinary Super Bowl that is Iron Chef America: Chefs Beau MacMillan, Anita Lo and Nate Appleman. And one of them, Chef MacMillan, in a battle I was lucky enough to judge, actually won there, an incredibly difficult feat. The remaining competitor, lovable Frenchman Jacques Torres, is one of the most famous and successful chocolatiers in the world—a force to be reckoned with in any dessert competition. But could he get there?

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Chopped Up: Ted’s All-Star Recap, Round Two

by in Shows, March 13th, 2011
Ted weighs in on Round Two's star-studded lineup.

Now that’s competitive cooking! There’s a reason Anne Burrell, Robert Irvine, Claire Robinson and Duff Goldman are long-standing Food Network stars— these chefs accomplished more in 20 minutes than most people could do with an entire day.

The competition between Worst Cooks in America co-hosts Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine was neck-and-neck throughout the three rounds, and Anne just barely nosed out ahead of Robert in a photo finish to win a spot in the April 3 finale, where she’ll continue her fight for $50,000 for the charity of her choice, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

There’s no time for a warm-up on Chopped All-Stars, and right out of the gate, the contestants were presented with a basket that judge Alex Guarnaschelli aptly labeled “a total act of cruelty.” Notable culprit, of course: that canned haggis (collective shudder), which chefs and judges agreed had an aroma vaguely reminiscent of dog food. But somehow, all four All-Stars managed to use the stuff to create something that, judging from the empty plates on the judges’ table, was actually tasty. Unfortunately for all of us, who naturally wanted to see what pyrotechnics Duff might come up with in the dessert round, his flavors and technique weren’t enough to get him past round one.

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Chopped Up: Ted’s All-Star Recap, Round One

by in Shows, March 6th, 2011

Chopped host Ted Allen weighs in on Round One of the most exciting season yet.

Dog lovers everywhere can breathe a collective sigh of relief: Michael Proietti pulled it out in the dessert round to win the first round of our Chopped All-Stars series, a full-on face-off between four fan favorites from The Next Food Network Star. We’ve had our fair share of aggressive competitors on the show, but I think Michael is the first one so dedicated to culinary victory that he’d threaten puppies in exchange for a win.

Michael Proietti is the first to move on to the Chopped All-Stars finale.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Michael was joking and would never harm a domestic animal, excepting, perhaps, a lobster. He was, in fact, arguably the sweetest and definitely among the funniest contestants ever to compete on The Next Food Network Star—both major reasons we wanted him to compete in All-Stars. But it was his cooking skill, not his personality (or even his elaborate hair) that now have taken him to the April 3 finale, where he’ll compete to win $50,000 for the charity of his choice, the Jed Foundation.

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