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Chopped Review: “Gyro We Go Again”

This week on Chopped, the contestants were thrown for a loop with some interesting ingredients such as chocolate donuts in the dinner round and pigs in a blanket in the dessert round. 

Unfortunately, not all of the chefs were able to hold their own with these “out there” ingredients and found themselves making friends with the chopping block instead of the $10,000 prize.

The Contestants:
Tara, Chef owner from Los Angeles
Guillermo, Chef de cuisine from New York
Jaquy, Food stylist from New York
Tom, Sous chef from New York

This Week’s Judges: Marcus Samuelson, Aaron Sanchez, and Elizabeth Karmel.

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The Appetizer Round: The quartet had 20 minutes to create an appetizer using gyro meat, piquillo peppers, hearts of palm and oysters.

Three of the contestants really impressed the judges with their appetizer recipes. Tom’s Oyster Shooters “celebrated the oyster," Tara was able to bring out the real essence of the oysters in her Oysters Two Ways and Guillermo showed the judges a great use of the gyro meat in his Panko-Crusted Fried Oyster.

Jaquy, however, was the odd one out in this round, creating a delicious oyster shooter but completely lacking any harmony on her plate – and blaming it on her celiac disease. She was, not surprisingly, sent packing before the dinner round – which was just as well, since the chocolate donuts in the dinner basket would have totally thrown her for a loop.

The Dinner Round: The contestants had 30 minutes to create an entrée containing sirloin flap, rainbow carrots, formaggio di fossa and chocolate donuts.

Tom managed to make the best use of the chocolate donuts in his Chocolate Donut Coffee Crumble alongside Cumin Roasted Sirloin Flap, though he made a big error in undercooking his meat. Guillermo created a Grilled Sirloin Flap with Potato Gratin, but cut the meat with instead of against the grain – a fairly basic technique for a chef, especially one claiming to have a lot of experience with cooking beef.

Tara, though, made the biggest mistake with her dish; even though she had the most creative use of the cheese on her Cheese Crusted Sirloin Flap, she put too much of the chocolate sauce on two of the plates and none on another, causing her to get chopped.

The Dessert Round: The two remaining contestants had 30 minutes to create a dessert recipe using sorghum molasses, kefir, cactus pear and pigs in a blanket.

Guillermo served the judges a beautiful but sadly overcooked Cactus Pear Molasses Chocolate Cake, while Tom served them an odd collection of dessert elements, the highlight of which was his Cactus Pear and Kefir Frozen Yogurt. 

The title of Chopped champion ultimately came down to the chefs’ performance in the dinner round, and the judges felt that Guillermo’s inability to correctly cut his meat was a bigger mistake than Tom’s undercooked sirloin. In the end, Tom walked away with the title and the prize, and the satisfaction of knowing he had proven himself as a talented chef apart from his place of employment.

Thanks for reading – and remember to visit our evolving section of Food Network recipes every week!