Chopped Tournament of Stars: Finale Highlights

Browse behind-the-scenes moments from the finale of the Chopped Tournament of Stars.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: David Lang ©2013,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Tournament Finale

In the final round of the Chopped Tournament of Stars, winners from the previous four rounds return for one last battle. Gillian Vigman, Michael Imperioli, Carnie Wilson and Brandi Chastain are competing to earn the title of champion and leave with $50,000 for charity.

Appetizer Basket

The ingredients consist of a 10-pack of tacos, escarole, dragon fruit and vanilla ice cream.

An Uncharacteristic Plan of Attack

Brandi has never had escarole before but she decides to make a deconstructed taco salad with it. "This is typical California," she says, and adds some beans to round out her concept. She refries the taco shells and sautes and seasons the beef separately. Geoffrey finds her dish to be imbalanced. And Alex says, "It doesn't feel like a full offensive attack on the basket ingredients."

Tickled Pink by Technology

"The first thing I think of is escarole and beans," says Michael of the basket, but instead of the Italian classic, he goes Mexican. Unafraid of all the kitchen equipment, he uses the vacuum sealer to infuse the dragon fruit with tequila. He garnishes the plate with pink peppercorns, which has become a signature. Geoffrey finds the dish really weird, but thinks "it works." Alex loves the dragon fruit, but notes that he's overused the pink peppercorns.

From Home Cook to Chopped

"My stomach is churning like that damn ice cream," says Carnie when she opens the basket. Her mind goes blank at the sight of the tacos but she ends up using the meat for an escarole salad with a vanilla ice cream and dragon fruit dressing. "I learned how to cook years ago, actually, watching Food Network," she says, and she loves to cook for her family every day. The judges love the salad, but much of it is underdressed.

Up Against Some Serious Competition

"This time around, these aren't comedians trying to get their bit in," Gillian says of her new competitors. So she's bringing her A-game. She wants to tame the heartiness of the escarole with a creamy vinaigrette of dragon fruit and ice cream. She tries to blend the taco shells but nothing happens, so she sautes them and mixes them into the salad. Geoffrey thinks her dish has a "Caesar salad quality."

Dressed vs. Undressed

The judges concur that this was a tough basket. Geoffrey thought "Michael Imperioli's dish worked." Marc's favorite dish was Gillian's, though he would have liked more dressing. Geoffrey felt the same about Carnie's salad. Even though Alex found Brandi's dish lacking, she felt "[Brandi] was the only one who elevated the flavor of the taco meat." In the end, they decide to send Carnie's dish to the Chopping Block.

Entree Round

The ingredients consist of Peking duck, Brussels sprouts, cotton candy and veal demi-glace.

Mystical Maneuvering

Michael makes a sweet-and-sour sauce for the duck with the demi-glace, cotton candy and some bourbon. He plates it on toasted bread, going for a sort of Kentucky Hot Brown. "Cooking is like a meditation," he says. “The calmer you are, I think the more creative you can be." In the end the judges’ comments affirm this: "You have an incredible, almost mystical way of coming up with stuff," Geoffrey says.

Comeback with Creative Vengeance

"I am more worried than I was in the first round," says Brandi, who wants to prove Alex wrong by making a better dish. She decides to go for a Thanksgiving theme with gravy and mashed sweet potatoes. But in an unusual turn, she turns the duck into wontons. Geoffrey gives her points for creativity, but finds it to be "one-note." Marc thinks the ratios are off. Alex happens to loves the dish, finding it "really American."

Orange You a Lucky Duck

Not happy about the premade ingredients, Gillian decided to focus on the sprouts, turning them into a slaw with apples, an orange vinaigrette and rosemary. When it comes to the duck, she jokes "[it] kind of looks like what I look like when I try to get a tan." She sautes it with bacon, serving it with a demi-glace and cotton candy sauce. Alex finds that the rosemary "obscures a lot of the little finessed flavors" of her dish.

Countdown Crisis

In the last minutes of competition, the celebrities rush to finish their dishes. Michael is in such a hurry that he uses his hand instead of a spoon to plate. As Ted announces the two-minute warning, Alex worries: "We're down to the wire. I feel like Brandi might not finish." Marc jumps out of his seat as Ted yells, "Get it done; get it on the plates!" Gillian and Brandi finish just as the countdown is done.

Thinking the Grass Is Greener

Brandi second-guesses her decision, saying, "I look down at my plates and I think, oh my gosh, that's funky. Why did I do wontons?" Gillian thinks her own dish is missing something, and when she sees Brandi's plates, she says, "Oh my God, she's genius." Gillian worries that she doesn't have enough on her plate. Ultimately, her fears come true and the judges send her dish to the Chopping Block.

Dessert Round

The ingredients consist of blueberry goat cheese, pecans, churros and Champagne.

Revenge on the Ice-Cream Machine

"My stomach is in knots, but this dessert has to be great," says Michael. Right away he decides to make ice cream to settle the score from the last dessert round. He again uses the vacuum sealer to infuse the pecans with Champagne and uses the anti-griddle to freeze his blueberry goat-cheese sauce. He refries the churros and finishes his dessert with a dusting of curry powder, which surprises the judges. Alex calls it "magical."

Ice-Cream Relay Race

Inspired by her last dessert, Brandi decides to bake a carrot cake using the churros. She starts out whipping up a sabayon with the Champagne, but once Michael's done with the machine, she changes direction to make ice cream. "I'm going to fly by the seat of my pants on this one," she says. Brandi thinks her dessert will beat out Michael's just because he didn't do much with the churros. The judges commend her for her work.

The Chopped Champion

Ultimately the judges choose to send Brandi's dish to the Chopping Block, which means Michael has won the title of Chopped champion as well as $50,000 for The Pureland Project. "This is an honor," he says. "It's right up there with anything I've done." Alex tells him, "You really are a very worthy winner. You created some flavor combinations that were outside of the box."

Go Inside the Chopped Tournament of Stars

Visit the Chopped headquarters for more behind-the-scenes content, including video highlights and exit interviews with the celebrities.

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