On tonight’s episode, Chopped headed outdoors for the premiere of the second installment of the five-part Grill Masters tournament. In each of the four preliminary rounds, four expert grillers, barbecuers and chefs from across the nation compete for a place in the finale and a chance to win the $50,000 cash prize. In the first round, four fierce competitors took up the challenge; in the final round, two who share a history in the barbecue competition circuit faced off. The challenge could have ended in either’s favor, but the one who prevailed had the best three courses, earning a finale spot. Hear from the Chopped Champion of tonight’s episode.
During this season of Chopped Grill Masters, premiering Tuesday, July 14 at 10|9c, two new guests join the panel of regular judges at the chopping block: Amy Mills and Tim Love. Known as the heiress of barbecue, Amy is the daughter of famed barbecuer Mike Mills, and she is a top-notch barbecuer and restaurant consultant. With many years of experience, she knows what competitive barbecue is all about, so there’s no one more well-suited to judge two of the tournament’s preliminary rounds. FN Dish caught up with Amy on the set of the show to chat about grilling, barbecue and the difficulties the competitors face in this tournament.
Things got fishy tonight on an all-new Chopped when Ted Allen announced that the entree basket would contain something known as trash fish, or porgy — a type of fish that used to be a cast-off. That along with olive tapenade, blood oranges and vermicelli (rice) noodles made up the required ingredients, which proved challenging. Amanda Freitag, Marc Murphy and Geoffrey Zakarian took on the basket during a new installment of Chopped After Hours.
Amanda’s plan gets off to a rough start as she tries to deep-fry the rice noodles and realizes they’re not getting crisp. She makes some adjustments to speed up the process. “I cranked this, too, because I know my other chef competitors, they would like to use the fryer as well,” she says. “Look how considerate I am!” Geoffrey is convinced otherwise, asking where she put his pink peppercorns, which are actually on the ledge above his stove.
For the second time in the show’s history, Chopped headed out of the studio and into the great outdoors for Grill Masters. The cast traded in their dress shoes and city blacks for boots and overalls — well, almost! Production moved the entire crew to Queens County Farm on the outskirts of New York City to tape the special grilling tournament, premiering July 14 at 10|9c. FN Dish caught up with host Ted Allen to chat about the challenges the location posed as well as the challenges the competitors will face.
“We’re a studio show, for the most part, and you forget how easy you have it shooting indoors,” says Ted, referring to the fact that Chopped tapes at Food Network headquarters in New York City, which is a whole lot comfier than roughing it in the Tucson desert like the cast and crew did for the previous Grill Masters season — just think sand everywhere. For Season 2 everything still had to happen outdoors, and even though a more convenient location was chosen, it didn’t mean it would be that much easier — there was still the chance of inclement weather, among other uncontrollable factors.
There was no escaping smoky flavors on tonight’s episode of Chopped, as each basket contained barbecue-themed ingredients. That was no problem for judges Amanda Freitag, Marc Murphy and Maneet Chauhan as they dug into the entree basket after the competitors left the set. On an all-new Chopped After Hours, they took on some classic ‘cue ingredients: North Carolina BBQ sauce, avocado, rainbow chard and spareribs.
“The other barbecue sauce, you’re kind of stuck going down one road,” Marc says. “Here you can go maybe more on the Asian side or probably maybe Indian direction.” Everyone else agrees that they are happy about the choice of sauce. Maneet ends up going in a completely different direction, trying her hand at making a Brazilian stew called feijoada. It includes rice, which she decides to make in the microwave. Ted thinks it’s a great time-saver, saying “I don’t know why more people don’t do that!”
Chopped Grill Masters and Chopped Teen Tournament are back for second seasons on Food Network. First off starting July 14 at 10|9c, Tuesday nights are getting fired up with Chopped Grill Masters. There’s a $50,000 grand prize on the line as 16 chefs/grilling pros head out of the kitchen to compete in the great outdoors, working with mystery baskets that put their grilling and barbecue skills to the test. Judges Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli and Chris Santos, with special guest judges Amy Mills and Tim Love, will decide the fate of each competitor in the five-part tournament. Once the dust clears, there will be only one Grill Masters Chopped Champion.
Things got spicy on tonight’s episode of Chopped, with all of the baskets packing some heat — including dessert. While most would be hesitant to make something sweet from a basket full of fiery foods, the Chopped judges — Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Murphy and Maneet Chauhan — handled it flawlessly, using some very out-of-the-box combinations after the episode ended. On an all-new Chopped After Hours, they try their hand at the dessert round with chile pepper honey, devil’s food tres leches cake, pink lemons and canary melon.
“You’ve got to make sure you taste your ingredients before you cook with them,” Marc says as he coughs from the heat of the chile pepper honey. When Ted points out that he can assure Marc the canary melon is not hot and will offer some relief, Marc doubts his assurance, saying, “Well, maybe — you know — in the Chopped basket they might have infused the hot in here somehow. They might have put, like, a syringe in here!”
Five weeks ago 16 celebrated chefs entered Season 4 of the Chopped All-Stars tournament for a chance to walk away with the title of champion and the largest sum in the history of the show, $75,000 for a charity of their choice. Four preliminary rounds whittled down the competitors to four: Art Smith, Anne Burrell, Michael Psilakis and Jet Tila. In their earlier rounds, these four unlocked the mysteries of the basket, creating courses that earned them a place in the finale. All of them brought their A-game to the final battle, but one outmaneuvered them all. FN Dish has the exclusive interview with the champion.
Four celebrated chefs made it into tonight’s Chopped All-Stars finale, taking on the mystery baskets for a chance to win $75,000 for charity. The appetizer round presented them with fish carcass, tasso ham, Calabrian chiles and purple potatoes. And after the episode, judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Geoffrey Zakarian and Scott Conant decided to take on those same baskets. “It’s always a blast when you all leave the judging table,” Ted tells the judges. “It’s a blast for you, because you get to point and laugh at us,” Scott replies. “I think after all this time these might be my two favorite boyfriends that I have,” Alex says playfully, situated between Geoffrey and Scott. “You guys are our original gangsters,” Ted adds.
“A lot of Americans would look at this as garbage,” Ted says, pointing to the fish carcass, which includes a fish head. “This particular fish carcass is cod and a catfish head,” says Geoffrey. “I love how you say that,” says Scott, poking fun at how Geoffrey pronounces “cod.” He points out that most people would probably want to turn the bones into a broth, but with the time constraints it may not be the right choice. “I am dying to cook this,” adds Scott as Ted gives them 20 minutes to create a dish.
Chopped fans, have you dreamt of being able to cook like a competitor on the show? Now here’s your chance to make it come true. All you have to do is participate in the Chopped at Home Challenge, the final round of which starts today. Simply enter a dish using a set mystery basket of ingredients for a chance to compete in the Chopped kitchen at Food Network headquarters. And to top it all off, the winner will receive $10,000, just like a real Chopped champion.