Chopped Up: Ted's All-Star Recap, Round Two

By: Ted Allen
Show: Chopped
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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.

In round two, the entrée course, everyone was delighted to see a familiar and succulent protein, venison, in the basket. Not so much the red seaweed known as dulse. And if you thought Robert looked a little frazzled by the unfamiliar ocean vegetable, it was Chopped’s cramped quarters and tiny counter space that threw Food Network’s most muscular star for a loop. That difficulty cost Robert the carrot component when he knocked it onto the floor, but somehow he was still able to pull out an entrée that so wowed the judges they had nothing bad to say about it. And when Claire found herself returning her venison to the pan with only a minute left on the clock, it was clear she wasn’t going to get her plates done.

And then there were two.

Robert and Anne came at it like like gladiators in the dessert round. They both turned out desserts with lots of components and the sheer number of ingredients and techniques used in their dishes had to have been a Chopped record. After the judges tasted, deliberation got a bit heated; with contestants of this caliber, every little detail counts even more than usual. And so, while both chefs turned out great contenders, the judges felt that Robert’s was a little too rich and didn’t highlight the basket ingredients as well as Anne’s. Back on set at Worst Cooks, she’ll never let him hear the end of it!

Chopped All-Stars continues next Sunday at 9pm/8c with a third-round match-up of celebrity chefs from all over: Iron Chef veterans Nate Appleman and Beau MacMillan, renowned chef Anita Lo, and lovable chocolatier Jacques Torres. Don’t miss it!

Want more of Ted's witty commentary? Follow @ChopTedAllen on Twitter.

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