The Chopped All-Stars finale aired April 3 on the Food Network, pitting four finalists against one another in the quest for a $50,000 donation to the charity of the winner’s choosing. Chefs Anne Burrell, Nate Appleman, Aaron Sanchez, and Michael Proietti went head to head in an elimination-style battle that ended with Chef Nate taking the prize for the Kawasaki Disease Foundation. Here’s a recap of the action.
The Chopped All-Stars finale got started with the appetizer round. The four chefs were required to make use of rabbit kidneys, baby beets, merguez, and salt and vinegar potato chips to create an interesting and innovative dish during the 20-minute segment. Chef Anne confessed to feeling “paralyzing fear” right after opening her basket of ingredients, but quickly got to work. Chef Aaron said he was “excited” to see rabbit kidneys among the fixins, and planned to create a taco. Chef Nate opted to create a soup, and spoke fondly of his son, saying that he wanted to show him that effort can equal greatness. Finally, Chef Nate cited his “passion and over the top energy” as his competition ace in the hole.
Judges Marcus Samuelson, Marc Murphy, and Alex Guarnaschelli had plenty to say about the appetizers offered up. Marcus enjoyed that Chef Nate thought “out of the box,” but criticized the dish as being too bitter. Chef Anne’s trio of crostini were declared “very good” by Marc, while Alex wished that Chef Aaron had included more beets in his taco. Marcus criticized Chef Michael’s aioli for not coming together completely. When the contestants returned for judgment, Chef Michael was the first hopeful to be chopped.
The Chopped All-Stars finale moved on with round two, which required the contestants to create an entree using goat leg, dried hibiscus flowers, pattypan squash, and trail mix. Each of the contestants stressed over using one of the ingredients; Chef Aaron called the trail mix “horrible,” while Anne disparaged the squash. Chef Nate struggled to finish on time, but somehow managed to plate his dish by the time the clock ran out.
Chef Anne’s goat leg lettuce wrap with squash gratin was called “creative” by Marcus, but he also noted that he found it difficult to detect “the nuances” in flavor. Chef Aaron was up next, and presented hibiscus-dusted goat with salsa verde for consideration. Marc enjoyed the salsa verde, but said the dish was “on the drier side.” Finally, Chef Nate introduced his duo of goat with pattypan risotto. Alex appreciated how he’d “struck a balance” by presenting goat in two different ways, but Marcus criticized him for a tough piece of meat. When the knife fell, Chef Anne was chopped thanks to the overpowering nature of the tomato in her dish.
And then there were two, as Chef Aaron and Chef Nate headed to the dessert round. The two men were charged with using sesame candies, ruby red grapefruit, chayotes, and chick peas in their dishes. Chef Nate ran directly to the ice cream maker, while Chef Aaron looked to a chocolate cake recipe as his potential golden ticket.
Chef Aaron presented his sesame chocolate cake with chayote salad to the judges first. Alex raved over his chick pea cream and Marcus loved the salad, but Marc noted that the cake was “a touch on the drier side.” Chef Nate’s grapefruit semifreddo with chick pea caramel left Alex and Marc feeling confused, but not unsatisfied.
When the two men rejoined the judges, Chef Aaron was eliminated, making Chef Nate Appleman, competing on behalf of the Kawasaki Disease Foundation, the Chopped All-Stars winner. Chef Nate said that winning “means the world” to him and his son, and was excited to have his little man join him for the final moments of the show.