Skip to Content

Chopped Review: No Pain, No Shame

This week on Chopped, the contestants encounter a giant jawbreaker and watermelon soda in the appetizer basket, and “cronuts” in the entrée basket.

While the men were confident that they would take the competition, at the end of the day it came down to two strong, smart women to battle it out in the dessert round.

The Contestants:
Kristen, Executive chef from Nashville, TN
Jason, Chef de cuisine from southern California
Tek, Executive chef from Brooklyn
Jonah, Executive sous chef from New York

This Week’s Judges: Aaron Sanchez, Marc Murphy, and Geoffrey Zakarian.

Chopped pic

The Appetizer Round

The chefs had 20 minutes to create an appetizer using smoked catfish, ricotta salata, a giant jawbreaker, and watermelon soda.

The judges commended Kristen for her courage in making a soup broth in 20 minutes, and enjoyed the balance of the dish but were a bit put off by the texture of the fish skin. In contrast, they found the texture of the fish skin in Tek’s croquettes to be quite perfect, though they wished that there was more of the dish on the plate – which is always a good sign.

Jonah confused the judges with his so-called “soup recipe," which was really just a sauce with the color and texture of Pepto Bismol. Jason, meanwhile, should be saying a prayer of thanks for Jonah’s Pepto Bismol sauce; the judges were only so-so on his dish, and it was likely Jonah’s error that saved Jason from being sent to the chopping block.

The Dinner Round

The contestants had 30 minutes to create an entrée containing lamb tagine, miso paste, croissant doughnuts (also known as “cronuts”), and zucchini blossoms.

Once again, Kristen showed courage in this round by truly transforming the ingredients with her lamb recipe. Personally, I wanted to reach through the TV and pluck one of her stuffed squash blossoms right off the plate. The other two chefs, however, were not as successful with their transformation of the ingredients. Jason took a lamb stew and turned it into…lamb stew.

And while Tek did make the lamb in her dish taste better than how it began, the judges were underwhelmed with the drab appearance of her dish. In the end, the judges were looking for real transformation of the ingredients, and the flavors in Jason’s dish was not enough to save him from being chopped.

The Dessert Round

The two remaining contestants had 30 minutes to create a dessert recipe using blueberry scones, ginger preserves, rosemary, and gjetost cheese.

If the first two rounds did make this a close competition, this dessert round definitely did. While Tek’s dessert was a bit of a hodge-podge of garnishes, she made some bold flavor choices that really ended up paying off. Kristen, on the other hand, created a beautiful tart, though her caramel needed a bit of work.

Kristen’s ability to pull together a traditional dessert – not just a plate full of random bits and pieces of one – is what really gave her the advantage, proving that it is possible for an untrained chef to win in a competition against culinary school graduates.