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?
Tag: Ted Allen
This Sunday’s episode of Chopped All-Stars features four celebrity chefs with serious culinary chops. Anita Lo is a longtime fixture on the New York City restaurant scene, Beau MacMillan helms an applauded restaurant in Phoenix, pastry chef Jacques Torres is often credited with creating the best chocolate chip cookie on the planet and Nate Appleman has run successful restaurants on both coasts and has a James Beard Award (for Rising Star Chef) under his belt.
In anticipation of his Chopped appearance, Nate sat down to chat with us about competing for his son, how this experience compared to his run on Season Two of The Next Iron Chef, and what motivated him to recently make the move from an upscale restaurant kitchen to…Chipotle? That’s right — visit New York’s Chelsea location and you just might score a burrito made by a celebrity chef.
Did competing on Chopped bring back memories of your experience on The Next Iron Chef, Season Two?
It did, it brought back a lot of memories, just the competition aspect of the whole thing. By doing The Next Iron Chef, I realized how much I missed competition like that; I mean like when you’re a kid and you compete in games or whatever it is. It brought back that desire to want to compete. It was just really fun to do.
Was Chopped very different from NIC?
The timing of everything is very different, not only that Chopped is just one day but the timing of the battle, it’s 20 and 30 minute rounds versus…I think the shortest Next Iron Chef challenge was 45 minutes. It’s also different because on The Next Iron Chef I felt like I was really competing for myself. This time I was competing for everybody out there who went through the same thing I went through with my son. I did it to raise money for his disease through the Kawasaki Disease Foundation. I felt like I was doing it for everyone besides me.
Was Chopped harder than you expected?
It is at least twice as hard as The Next Iron Chef. It truly, truly is. Here, they open the basket and go. It was mind-blowing. I was trying to peek in the basket to see what was in there; it is a real surprise. I’ve always been a fan of Iron Chef, so watching that and Chopped, I’d think, what would I do with that as quickly as possible? That ended up being something that helped me; I was used to thinking that way, in a very quick manner. Then again, actually putting that to the test is very different from sitting on your couch watching.
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.
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.
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.
Recently I’ve become obsessed with The Best Thing I Ever Ate—the problem is, this show makes me way too hungry. While I usually just salivate in front of the TV, after watching the “Meat-Fest” episode I got proactive.
When Michael Symon professed his love for the Large Format Feast at Resto in New York City, a lightbulb went off in my head: “That’s how I’m celebrating my birthday this year!” At the feast Michael described, the restaurant would procure a whole animal of your choosing and prepare it every which way for a three-course feast.
I spent my afternoon coffee break with the one and only Ted Allen. Okay, it was a phone interview, but I did have my coffee and pen in hand. I can tell you, FN readers, I am officially a “Ted head.” Below are some of your questions Ted answered, as well as a few additional questions I was hungry to ask.
FN Dish: Setting aside the dropped food and tasting with cooking spoons, what’s the most cringe-worthy thing you’ve seen in the Chopped kitchens so far?
TED ALLEN: If you’re talking about the issue of hygiene, something that really freaks me out is chefs who sweat profusely. It seems like the sweatiest ones are the ones who like to lean over the plate while they’re tinkering with it. We can’t put all the blame on the chefs because the Chopped kitchen gets really hot. The judges are sweating too, but they’re not cooking. So, I kind of think if you’re a chef who gets really juicy, maybe a headband, hat, doo-rag? Something?
FN Dish: Are the baskets of food selected based upon the chef contestants, or are they selected at random?
Knock over your television and climb right onto Ted Allen’s set. Fine. Not really to his actual stage spot… BUT, now is your chance to talk to the quirky food personality instead of begging the screen to respond.
Here’s the deal: I scored an interview with Ted this Monday to chat about hosting the new Chopped episodes premiering next week. So…. Ten, Nine, Eight step away and fire your questions to me for culinary guru Ted Allen, and I’ll pick a few to ask him. If you’re curious as to what top three Chopped secret ingredients Mr. Allen would choose, or what guest judges he’d like to see on the show – now is the time to ask. Send away. You have until this Sunday (6/14) at midnight.
Yours Truly- The SC
So I’m standing about 5 feet away from Mario Batali, both an Iron Chef and one of the most successful restaurateurs in New York City. I go up to him and say, “Excuse me, where did you get that hot dog?”
And do you know what he says? “Over there.” Mind you, this guy can cook dishes like fennel dusted sweetbreads with his eyes closed, and yet there he stood, eating a hot dog like we were at a Mets game.
That said, one new FN show is seemingly creating even more buzz in the halls than usual. CHOPPED, hosted by Ted Allen, premieres tonight, triggering heightened chatter around our fancy, coffee maker-sized watercooler. Frantic sous chefs, insane time constraints, amazing food, flowing tears — all good.
Without giving it away, Rene Lynch (Daily Dish blog on the LA Times) summarized it best…
The format makes for one heck of a nail-biting experience, and it succeeds in placing the viewer in the shoes of the contestants. Who hasn’t raced around their kitchen, staring at the mismatched ingredients in the cupboard, while the clock is ticking?
Ok — enough shamless promotion.
Tune in tonight and let us know what you think…
Watch the promo here.
Go behind-the-scenes at the Bon Appétit Awards in New York, where Bobby Flay was honored as Cooking Teacher of the Year,and Mario Batali whipped up a feast.
CONTEST ENDED – CHECK BACK FOR A WINNERS’ LIST!
To WIN a copy of the newly released, “Bon Appetit: Fast, Easy, Fresh” cookbook by Barbara Fairchild, which comes with a year subscription to Bon Appetit Magazine. Post in the comments below what award you would give to your favorite Food Network host and why!
Winners will be contacted via email, so be sure to enter a valid email adress.