Chopped Teen Tournament: Finale Highlights

Browse behind-the-scenes moments from the finale of the Chopped Teen Tournament and find out who took home the grand prize.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

The Finale Starts Now

The teen winners from the four preliminary rounds, Dante, Sequoia, Tommi Rae and Jason, have returned for the last fight to the finish line. They're battling to potentially win $25,000 in prize money, a coveted culinary school scholarship worth $40,000 and the title of Chopped Teen Grand Champion.

Intimidated and Inundated

Faced with purple cauliflower, kumquats, coconut caramel cookies and octopus, Sequoia isn't pleased with the appetizer basket: "The octopus is like the biggest and most horrible beast I've ever faced." She decides on a stir-fry to show her strengths, but nerves get the best of her and she fails to plate the kumquats.

Thinking Too Far Outside of the Basket

Jason purees the purple cauliflower, which he'll serve alongside a panzanella salad. "I'm trying to show the judges that I have a wide knowledge of cuisines," he says of his decision to go a Mediterranean route. But he ends up relying on too many pantry ingredients, including baguette, which he slices instead of cubing.

Souped-Up Appetizer

Tommi Rae decides to make the purple cauliflower the focus of her dish, turning it into a creamy soup topped with grilled octopus and a coconut caramel cookie-and-kumquat-infused oil. "Everybody loves a good soup," she says, plating it with grated Parmesan and sliced baguette she borrowed from Jason.

Overconfident ... and an Oversized Salad

"I'm laughing at this octopus," says Dante, "because it's funny how everyone is crying over there." He's convinced his deep-fried octopus will stand out among the rest. He serves it atop a warm salad, which includes the remaining basket ingredients and spinach, but he may have gone a little overboard.

Soup or Salad?

Tommi Rae's soup gets rave reviews, especially from Amanda Freitag, but Alex Stupak thinks it might have been too thick, and Alex Guarnaschelli's only negative is the infused oil. When it comes to Jason's dish, Alex G. calls it "pantry-centric," and Alex S. thinks sliced bread does not make it a panzanella.

The Rules of the Game

"Now, yours is really the standout," says Alex G. of Dante's octopus, but Amanda thinks all the spinach "diluted the flavors." Conversely, Sequoia's dish is packed with flavor but is missing a basket ingredient. "This is by far my favorite dish," says Alex G., but it's not enough to save Sequoia from the chopping block.

Sweet and Somewhat Spicy

For his entree, Jason is inspired to make something sweet and spicy with the antelope chops, red curry paste, ants on a log and rainbow carrots in the basket. He uses the curry paste on the carrots and chops, but decides to play it safe with the amount because, he says, "using too much will overpower the dish."

Bold Flavors, Big Servings

Tommi Rae marinates the chops in the curry paste and the peanut butter from the ants on a log before grilling them. Deciding there are not enough carrots for her dish, since "we're not known for little meals down South," she grills mushrooms and then sautes some more at the last minute, flavoring them with lemon juice.

Overthinking and Undercompensating

Excited about the curry paste, Dante takes it one step further and uses curry powder on his chops. He feels rice noodles would pair well with his Indian-style curry but just before plating picks out the noodles. "I learned from the last round to edit myself," he says of his decision to keep his dish within the basket.

Discussing the Degrees of Flavor

Tommi Rae's use of lemon juice on the mushrooms made them taste "borderline astringent," says Alex G. Amanda praises Dante for staying within the basket, but Alex S. feels he held back by doing so. Despite the perfectly cooked chops, the judges find Jason's dish too restrained, and he is chopped.

There's No Holding Back

Dante crosses himself as he tries the chocolate-covered crickets, followed by a swig of the frozen mocha cappuccino, both from the dessert basket, which also has jelly doughnuts and Vacherin Mont d'Or cheese. He's making ice cream, a compote and puff pastries "to prove to the judges that I'm the number one chef," he says.

Creative Thinking at Play

"In South Carolina we use crickets to fish with," says Tommi Rae. "We don't dip them in chocolate and eat them." Imagining the insects as nuts, she processes them with the doughnuts for a cake. Like Dante, she turns the cappuccino into an ice cream, but she finds he's eager to get to the machine too.

An Incredibly Close Competition

Both Dante and Tommi Rae succeeded in creating complex desserts out of difficult ingredients, but each had one negative: Tommi Rae's could have been sweeter, and Dante's pastry was not baked through. The judges decide to chop Dante's dish, with Amanda saying, "It came down to a piece of undercooked puff pastry."

And the Chopped Teen Grand Champion Is ...

"You're willing to take risks with your cooking," Alex S. tells Tommi Rae. "They say that fortune favors the bold." And with that Tommi Rae is awarded $25,000 and a $40,000 scholarship to culinary school. "This gives me the opportunity to be the first person in my family to go to college," she says.

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