On the show, the competitors all tried making pasta in some shape or form, but not without some sticky situations. Just think about how much time you might need for rolling out pasta! Amanda and Maneet reinvented the pasta. Amanda, deciding to make a fritto misto, thought not only was she going to fry the fish, she would fry the pasta too. And Maneet wanted to turn her pasta into Mexican tostadas with an Indian twist. Only Aarón tried to make a traditional Italian pasta dish of ravioli uovo, which is pasta with an egg yolk inside. Unfortunately his attempt to make “the best pasta ever” didn’t turn out so well, so instead he switched to plan B.
Tag: Chopped After Hours
The circus is filled with amazing attractions and fun amusements, but lest we forget there’s also the food: corn dogs, cotton candy, peanuts, candy apples and more. This week’s episode of Chopped was a special Circus Spectacular theme, with basket ingredients that evoked the big top. Judges Alex, Scott and special guest judge Sweet Genius Ron Ben-Israel took up spots in the Chopped kitchen for an After Hours competition. They faced cooking with the basket ingredients from the dessert round, which included a snow cone, popcorn, a funnel cake and sour cream.
On the show, the competitors embraced the childhood fun of the dessert basket ingredients and reimagined them in unique ways. The judges followed suit and created playful dishes that exemplified the joy of going to the circus as a kid. Right off the bat, Alex decided to bake cookies and make sorbet out of the snow cone and sour cream so she could create ice cream sandwiches. She thought it best evoked the fun of “getting it all running down your hands while you’re watching the circus.”
While many Chopped baskets may include a few common ingredients and just one oddball product, this week’s Halloween-themed episode featured baskets filled with extra-spooky offerings and downright ghoulish goods. Judges Alex, Chris and Marc took their places in the kitchen for an After Hours competition,
and they faced the challenge of cooking with an appetizer basket made up of eels, congealed pig’s blood, candy bats and potato crisps.
Instead of letting the strangeness of these ingredients get the better of them, the judges went back to what they know and the cooking styles with which they’re most familiar in order to turn out classic plates — as classic as they could be with pig’s blood and eel, after all. Potatoes are well within Marc’s comfort zone, so he was quick to feature them prominently in his offering. “So we’re going to have some potatoes — that is a shock, coming from Marc Murphy,” Ted joked with the judge, who featured a casserole-like offering studded with pig’s blood.
On tonight’s all-new episode of Chopped After Hours, Amanda proved that she can indeed walk the walk, if you will, in the kitchen, when she decided to bake a cake for her dessert. “I’ve always wanted everyone to bake,” she told Ted, “so I find it only fair for me to bake.” Her dish, like Aarón’s and Marcus’ dishes, had to feature chicken-themed ingredients, including chicken suckers, farm-fresh eggs, fruitcake and chicken feet, but she didn’t let the oddity of these products stop her from the mission. After a quick 30 minutes, she ultimately proved that it’s possible to bake — and bake well — in the Chopped , as her fruitcake with a sweet marshmallow mousse “melts in your mouth, ” according to Aarón. “I want to put my money where my mouth is. I am always begging the chefs to bake … so I baked,” she told her peers when presenting the dessert.
Just minutes into cooking, Ted and Chris took advantage of the opportunity when Scott was away from his station to playfully mess with the chef, hiding from him his chopped burger patty. “Someone stole my hamburger!” he exclaimed later, before Ted advised him to check beneath his station to find his missing ingredient.
Although he’s overseen hundreds of rounds of Chopped, Ted had never before cooked in the kitchen, and he didn’t know the experiences of manipulating mystery ingredients, running through the pantry or competing against the clock firsthand. Until tonight, that is. In his first foray into battle against the Chopping Block, Ted went head-to-head-to-head with Marc and Maneet in an After Hours competition, while Chris filled his hosting shoes for the day. Ted and the judges watched three chef-competitors attempt a basket of crab legs, sweet vermouth, green asparagus and Mexican wedding cookies, before they, too, tried their hands at those ingredients with only 30 minutes on the clock.
Ted may have been the rookie contestant in the kitchen, but that didn’t stop him from tackling an ambitious dish of crab cakes, especially since the crab was frozen at the start of the battle. He quickly boiled it, making the meat easier to work with, before getting started on a vermouth vinaigrette. As is often the case among the chefs, he faced a potentially damning problem with just minutes left to cook, when his vinaigrette broke in the blender. Per the advice of peer and guest host Chris, however, Ted remade the mixture, and in the end, “it totally made the dish,” according to Chris.
Aarón Sánchez was on hand to guest judge this round, and he encouraged the panel to elevate the teens’ already stellar dishes into something even more worthy of the Chopped Kitchen. “The flavors that they were able to get onto these dishes were absolutely amazing,” Marcus said of the teens’ offerings while cooking his own plate. “It actually inspired me to a do a really good job right now.” He set off to prepare grilled goat leg with a potato salad and bacon-studded red wine-rhubarb sauce, while Amanda and Marc prepared meatballs with rhubarb-tomato sauce and roasted goat with potato salad and grilled lettuce, respectively. After a quick 30 minutes of cooking, the panel came together to taste each other’s dishes, and Aarón admitted to his peers, “You guys did almost as good as the teenagers.” They agreed that their offerings were inspired examples of how to integrate dissimilar ingredients. “I love the way they cooked, and I hope we made them proud and gave them some new ideas,” Amanda ssaid at the end of the competition about the teenagers.
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.”
In the last After Hours episode, Chopped judges tried their hands at ingredients that collectively proved to be some of the most common ever featured on the show, and their experience with them was a challenge in and of itself. Similarly, on tonight’s all-new battle, judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Aarón Sánchez and Marcus Samuelsson faced a basket with one particularly demanding ingredient: lobster bisque. In the same way that the last group of judges had to transform the familiar, Alex, Aarón and Marcus had to redefine something that was already a finished dish.
“I think that’s the hardest [ingredient] right there,” guest judge Amanda Freitag said of the bisque, “’cause someone made it already. And maybe they made it too creamy, too thick.” Her peers understood what she meant by that, and they each went to great lengths to transform the bisque into something else, instead of simply warming it and serving it as-is. Aarón and Alex treated the bisque as the base of their sauces, guajillo and marinara, respectively, while Marcus used the bisque as the building block of another bisque. He added yogurt and white wine to the basket ingredient in an effort to increase its “sourness,” and cooked it with squid, potatoes and daikon radish. What resulted was a “completely complex” offering, according to Aarón .
You’ve seen them judge the competition, battle for the title of All-Stars champion and compete in a friendly game with colleagues on After Hours, but there’s a lot you don’t know about the judges of Chopped. Here’s your chance to get to know the nine people behind the Chopping Block.
Maneet Chauhan is a regular judge on Chopped. Viewers may also remember her as a contestant on Season 3 of The Next Iron Chef. After 8 years leading Vermilion restaurant, Maneet started Indie Culinaire, an avant-garde culinary and hospitality company that services events around the country. Her cookbook, Flavors of My World, was recently released. What you may not know about Maneet is that she hates cooking with pineapple. Find out more about Maneet in her Q&A.