One-on-One with the Chopped Grill Masters, Part 3 Winner
Tonight Chopped Grill Masters continued with Part 3 of the five-part grilling and barbecuing tournament. In each of the four preliminary rounds, four expert grillers, barbecuers and chefs from across the nation compete for four spots in the finale, where only one will win the grand champion title. In tonight's third part, four fierce competitors took up the challenge, but in each round, one chef got knocked out; in the end, only one remained, winning $10,000 and going on to the finale for a chance at an additional $50,000 in cold, hard cash. Hear from the Chopped Champion.
Appetizer: abalone, rainbow chard, spa water, raisins on the vine
Entree: bone-in natural cut rib-eye steak, toybox eggplant, Padron peppers, polenta log
Dessert: chocolate trifle, poached pears, slab bacon, pistachios
Daniel came into Part 3 just like his fellow chefs: confident he'd make it to the end. But upon seeing the appetizer ingredient of abalone, he was even more confident he'd get the first round in the bag, and he did just that by tenderizing the tough shellfish to the judges' satisfaction. Going into the entree round, Daniel found himself working with natural cut rib-eye steaks. His fellow chefs grilled them and served them steakhouse style, but Daniel took the fine-dining route and served them sliced and perfectly portioned to his eggplant side dish, unlike the other two chefs. By doing so he secured his advancement into the dessert round. Facing the last basket, both he and Jason put together great desserts that were neck and neck. In the end the judges found Daniel's three courses were the winning formula. Daniel's meticulousness and his ability to create flavor balance earned him the $10,000 in this battle, and he won the third spot in the finale. There he'll face Part 1 winner Jonathon Sawyer, Part 2 winner Sophina Uong and the next Chopped Champion for a chance to win an additional $50,000.
Daniel Gomez Sanchez: The baskets today were awesome — lots of cool stuff. There were some roadblocks, there were some curve balls, but by and large a lot of really cool stuff, good product, things that I was excited to cook.
Which basket or ingredient was the most difficult for you?
DGS: The log of polenta was the hardest ingredient for me today. It just wouldn't behave.
DGS: I thought I crushed the abalone dish. I'm definitely the most proud of that dish. ... I know how to cook abalone really well. I know how to get the most out of the actual abalone, but I was very, very happy with what I got from my broth. ... It was singing.
Is there anything you would have done differently with your dishes?
DGS: You know, there's little tweaks here and there that I could have done differently, but for the most part I'm completely happy and satisfied with how I performed. It was great.
DGS: My grilling philosophy is to get as much flavor from the charcoal and the wood as possible to really set off whatever ingredient I'm doing.
DGS: It was an awesome opportunity to compete today. ... It means so much to get to pit myself against all these other great cooks and see where I stand.
DGS: You know, going into the finale I'm going to keep my strategy the same. I'm just going to focus on doing my food and making sure that I don't beat myself by making stupid mistakes. ... I'm not going to beat myself. I'm not going to play it safe. I'm going to continue to do my food and really get the most flavor and the most deliciousness out of every ingredient I get my hands on.
If you end up winning the tournament, what is your plan for the prize money?
DGS: If I win $50,000, I'll take a little bit of it, and we're going to go on a big vacation, my family and I, and the rest of it I'm probably going to put away and focus toward opening my own restaurant eventually.
Stay tuned for Part 4 of the Chopped Grill Masters tournament on Tuesday at 10|9c, to find out who earns the last spot in the finale.