One-on-One with the Chopped: Impossible Champion

Get the exclusive interview with the winner of Chopped: Impossible. Find out if Robert won or lost against the last chef standing.
Show: Chopped

Chefs Robert Irvine and Emily Chapman moments before chef Chapman competes against chef Irvine for an additional $25,000 and the title of Chopped Impossible Champion, as seen on Food Network's Chopped, Season 27.

Photo by: David Lang ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

David Lang, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

In the new Impossible tournament, Chopped switched up the format and made the baskets even more difficult. In each of the three preliminary rounds, four chefs competed to earn a spot in the finale for a chance to go up against Mr. Impossible himself, Robert Irvine. If one of the chefs beats Robert, the winning chef will go home with $40,000 in prize money. In tonight's episode, the three winners of the preliminary rounds cooked through an appetizer round, before the remaining two moved on to the entree round. The winner of that round got to go up against Robert in a wild-card round. But who won? Read on to hear from the new champion.

The Baskets

Appetizer: geoduck, spring garlic, purple artichokes, fish fillet sandwich

Entree: fried brain sandwiches, dried pomegranate seeds, chocolate mint, spaghetti rings

Wild Card: cow's feet, cow's tongue, chateaubriand, beef jerky soda

Elimination Details
First Round: Marc Anthony Bynum
Second Round: James Major
Winner: Emily Chapman

Judges: Scott Conant, Amanda Freitag, Aarón Sánchez

More from this Episode

Chopped host Ted Allen and judges: Scott Conant, Amanda Freitag congratulate chef Emily Chapman on winning the sudden death round in which chef Chapman competed against chef Irvine for an additional $25,000 and the title of Chopped Impossible Champion, as seen on Food Network's Chopped, Season 27.

Photo by: David Lang ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

David Lang, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Even though Emily came into the competition as a ball of nerves, she tamed her shakes and became a formidable competitor, fully prepared to take on the magnitude of going up against Robert in the wild-card round if it came to that — and it did. In the finale, she cooked through both the appetizer and entree rounds with ease, turning out two dishes that pushed the level of creativity. For her appetizer dish she might not have prepared the geoduck as it should have been, but the judges appreciated her salad. For her entree she created a curry, using the fried brain sandwiches from the basket excitedly and supplementing them with scrambled eggs. Going up against Robert, she put all her focus on the all-beef basket, embracing it wholeheartedly. Although her broth may have been unexpected, her dish once again showed the most creativity, and the judges declared her the winner of Chopped: Impossible, leaving Robert surprised.

I heard you worked the line last night.

Emily Chapman: I did get to work the line last night. I had to stop by at work obviously to, you know, report about my schedule, and I walked in the door — we're a very small staffed restaurant. Right now it's just me and my chef, and my chef has been going above and beyond to make sure that I was able to take this time off. So, he had another person helping him, but not trained on the hot side, so I knew that my chef was alone on the hot line. So, I walked into the restaurant. The restaurant was full, and I knew what was going on in the back, so I didn't even say anything to anyone. I didn't say hello. I didn't say, "Can I get a drink?" I didn't say — anything that I wanted to say, didn't come out of my mouth. I just threw my bookbag down, walked into the back, took my sweatshirt off, and grabbed my spoons and jumped on the line, and I was just like, “Hey, buddy, need some help?” And I finished service out with him, and, you know, that's what I do.

Chef Emily Chapman works on her appetizer that must include: geoduck, spring garlic, purple artichokes and fish filet sandwich for Chopped: Impossible tournament, as seen on Food Network's Chopped, Season 27.

Photo by: David Lang ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

David Lang, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Now with that, and coming into Chopped this morning, how was your energy level?

EC: I was exhausted this morning. I'm also not a morning person in the first place, so me ever waking up before, I don't know, 10 o'clock, unless I absolutely have to be at work, is a very rare occurrence. So, I had some trouble waking up. I was definitely a little groggy. Staring at lights makes you sleepy, and especially, you know, when you have, like, a start when everybody's trying to get together and get everything organized, it definitely makes you tired and will bring you down a little bit. But the second that it was time to cook, I was just, like: "Alright, dude, this is it. Brain, you need to turn on." And the second I opened up the first basket, it's like an emergency generator kicked on and I was good to go.

How were your nerves, or your shakes, today?

EC: My nerves were very under control, and I was really happy with that, because it's just annoying to be shaking when you're trying to cut something. It's not anything I have control over, but I was able to kind of, you know, take deep breaths and really analyze things that were said to me [last time] and be able to learn from them. And ... it worked. So, I'm happy about my abilities today.

Chef Robert Irvine inspects chef Emily Chapman's entrée that must include: fried brain sandwiches, dried pomegranate seeds, chocolate mint and spaghetti rings for Chopped: Impossible tournament, as seen on Food Network's Chopped, Season 27.

Photo by: David Lang ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

David Lang, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

When Robert would come in and lurk around in the kitchen, did that bother you?

EC: It didn't bother me at all. I'm used to having chefs walk behind me, taste my food, ask me what I'm doing, making sure that I'm doing correct procedures. So, for me, this was just another day in a kitchen, and it wasn't anything abnormal. I knew what I was cooking. It wasn't breaking my concentration, and, you know, that's really all that matters.

It seemed that most of the basket ingredients leaned toward your strengths, except for the geoduck. What was going through your mind when you got that strange ingredient — and when you got the comments from the judges about how you could have prepared it?

EC: Seeing the geoduck was more of a frustration standpoint for me. It wasn't that I didn't know what it was, it was more of that time that I had the opportunity to learn how to clean it and I didn't, and so for me, I was just like, "Oh, I could be doing something with this, but I really have no idea what I'm going to do with this, so I'm just going to try my best." And, so that was my game plan moving forward, and it just didn't really work out in the way that I was hoping, but I was hoping that, you know, the remainder of the ingredients and everything were enough to be able to carry that round through. But, yeah, in comparison to playing on my strengths, I don't think this necessarily showed weakness. It just showed where I just need improvement.

Chef Emily Chapman works on her entrée that must include: fried brain sandwiches, dried pomegranate seeds, chocolate mint and spaghetti rings for Chopped: Impossible tournament, as seen on Food Network's Chopped, Season 27.

Photo by: David Lang ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

David Lang, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

What did you think about the other basket ingredients? You seemed pretty happy about the brains, the tongue ...

EC: Yeah, it's pretty interesting that I get excited over brains and tongues and feet and, I had no idea what to do with the geoduck, which is usually the exact opposite of the scenario. ... I get excited working with things that I know how to work with, as would anybody. But I get excited knowing how to work with things that I know a lot of other people don't know how to work with. Having that in the back of your mind is definitely a driving force, because you know that in a way, you already have an advantage, because you know what you're looking at, and you know how to handle it. You know what to do, and so this way, that approach can definitely help you.

In your entree, it looked like you came up with the scrambled eggs on the spot and plated it just before time was called. What made you want to do that?

EC: I always knew that I was going to be doing the scrambled eggs. I had the eggs scrambled and off to the side. I was waiting for the appropriate time to cook the scrambled eggs. I know that I have this terrible habit of waiting until the last minute, but a lot of the time I do that because I don't want to sacrifice the quality of the food that I'm putting on the plate. Eggs, you know they cook very quickly. They carry over very fast, and if you cook them just a little bit too long, and then you plate them, then the next thing you know, you have rubbery eggs, and no one wants any rubbery eggs. So, that was what I was trying to avoid with that last-minute decision ... but I wanted it to be a complete dish, and eggs are definitely a great way to introduce protein in a simplistic manner.

Chefs James Major and Emily Chapman stand before Chopped host Ted Allen and judges: Scott Conant, Amanda Freitag and Aaron Sanchez moments before finding out which chefs cooking to has won them $15,000 and the opportunity to compete against chef Robert Irvine for an additional $25,000 and the title of Chopped Impossible Champion, as seen on Food Network's Chopped Impossible tournament finale season 27.

Photo by: David Lang ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

David Lang, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

What was going through your mind when James was chopped in the entree round and you realized you'd be going up against Robert?

EC: In a way, in my heart, I knew that Robert and I were going to come, you know, head-to-head. After going through, you know, the entree round and after me looking down at my plate, I was really happy with what I plated, and I wanted to eat what I made. ... Like, that's a really good feeling to have going into the judging of the entree round. So, when I saw that Chef James was going home, I can't say that I was necessarily surprised, because in my head I knew that I was moving forward. But knowing that I was going to face Robert Irvine ... initially you're thinking, like: "Oh ... I'm going up against one of the Food Network's stars. Like, this is crazy." But at the end of the day, it's just another basket. ... Like, it doesn't matter who's cooking with you. What matters is what's in the basket, and ... I eventually erased that thought out of my mind and just focused on what I was going to see when I opened that basket up.

I heard that you had a lucky station.

EC: I do. I have a lucky station. ... Station number two was where I won the first time, and I am a creature of habit when it comes to, like, familiarity, and [I'm] very meticulous ... even though it doesn't seem like it on the show, because there's stuff everywhere. I'm very meticulous about how stations are set up, about being familiar with my surroundings, knowing that to throw things out, I always turn to my left, and having that garbage can to my left is really a huge convenience factor for me. So, having that sense of comfort and that sense of, you know, reliability, in that station, like, being on that station again was really exciting for me, especially to have it all three times in a row, and, so, I think luck definitely was on my side.

Chef Emily Chapman works on her dish that must include: pre-cooked beef feet, chateaubriand, pre-cooked beef tongue and beef jerky soda during the sudden death round in which chef Chapman competes against chef Irvine for an additional $25,000 and the title of Chopped Impossible Champion, as seen on Food Network's Chopped, Season 27.

Photo by: David Lang ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

David Lang, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

In your final round, you didn't actually put any vegetables on that plate. Why did you decide to do it that way, or was it just the way it came together or a matter of time?

EC: Yeah, that round, I really wish that I was able to put, like, a really nice mushroom, even if it was like a duxelles, or something to top ... the steak, or anything to tie in the meatiness of the vegetables with the savory of the broth and the steak. If I was able to do that, I think going up to that chopping block would have been a no-brainer for me. I would have been, like, "There's no way in hell that a bean salad is going to beat this." But I hiccupped in the sauce, and I spent too much time readjusting and seasoning, trying to make sure that those flavor profiles were, like, completely on point. So, you know, you have a game plan in your head, and you execute x, y and z, and then you realize that you know there could have been a q or an r or an s, and that you could've incorporated other things that would have made that dish better, but it doesn't mean that the dish that I gave was bad.

There was one point when you told the judges that this whole experience, whether you won or not, was going to help you in the future, just in moving forward, by giving you more ideas, etc. Can you explain what you meant?

EC: Yeah, I got really inspired by my dessert basket in the last competition, simply because I had this revelation of — even though maybe the judges didn't agree — but on my palate, I found this revelation of how black garlic can be utilized in a dessert. So, now I'm actually really looking forward to trying to mess around with black garlic [in a] dessert, or like a sweet version of black garlic. ... Being able to work with these ingredients, and look at them in a perspective where you can make a dish that most people would ... have no inkling of where your thought process comes from, is really a great feeling to have.

Chef Emily Chapman celebrating her winning the sudden death round in which chef Chapman competed against chef Irvine for an additional $25,000 and the title of Chopped Impossible Champion, as seen on Food Network's Chopped, Season 27.

Photo by: David Lang ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

David Lang, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

How does it feel to win today? Does it feel cathartic, or does it feel just like you've reached a certain pinnacle?

EC: Winning today has definitely been emotionally overwhelming. There's been a lot of highs and lows throughout this entire competition, more highs, fortunately for me, than lows, but my lows were pretty low lows. I have a tendency of really getting to myself when I feel like something has gone awry, but winning, finally coming out of this, and saying that I won, and that my best was the best is a really awesome feeling. ... I've put myself through the ringer ... [and] at the end of the day, I'm here, and I won. So, it's really, really cool.

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