In this final round of the All-Stars tournament, the winners from each of the four previous rounds return to the kitchen to seek the title of champion and a $50,000 donation to charity. Boxer Laila Ali, Chopped judge Scott Conant, acclaimed chef Gavin Kaysen and Food Network personality Sunny Anderson will once again face the unexpected challenges of working with the mystery basket ingredients. Click through to the end to get interviews with the winner and the runner-up.
The basket ingredients are soft-shell crabs, crunchy peanut butter, sake and sea beans. Having never cooked crab before, Laila dives right in like an expert and makes an Asian-inspired dish. She cooks the sea beans with peanut butter — a riff on one of her own recipes. Geoffrey commends Laila for her decision to cook the crab in a flavorful bisque, but would have preferred fewer sea beans on the plate.
Scott wants to showcase his strengths while also pushing his boundaries, so his pasta dish takes on a Thai influence with a coconut-peanut sauce. Aarón thinks it's perfectly cooked, and Geoffrey applauds his cutting up of the crab. The only negative comments from the judges are that there were too many sea beans on the plate and the sake flavor wasn't as prevalent as it could have been.
Even with an injury from cutting herself, Sunny soldiers on. She makes fried crab and coats them in a mixture of peanut butter, jelly and Sriracha. To offset the saltiness of the sea beans, she boils them in apple cider vinegar. With a little extra time, she creates a sake cocktail to complement the crab. Geoffrey finds the dish very inventive and agrees that the cocktail worked to cut the richness of the crab, but says the crab wasn't cleaned completely.
Gavin is proud of his French foundation, but he's also inspired by other cuisines, so he makes a Thai-style dish, without knowing that Scott is making something similar. He crusts the crab with panko and serves it over rice noodles and a coconut-peanut sauce. He finishes by topping the dish with a few sea beans. Aarón thinks it wasn't a good idea for Gavin to sauce the crab because it negates the crispiness, calling it a "rudimentary mistake."
To keep the lean goat meat moist, Gavin decides to make sausage, using the crushed pretzels as a binder. On the plate he also has the farro cooked risotto-style with mascarpone and Parmesan. And on the rim there's a whole-grain mustard chantilly. Gavin was worried the farro wouldn't cook in time — unfortunately the judges did find it undercooked. But Marcus thought the dish had "a lot of soul."
Even though he's never worked with such a small goat, Scott is very familiar with the meat and immediately decides to moist-roast it with white wine and rosemary. He puts the farro to cook right away, knowing it will take a long time. He ends up turning it into a streusel with sausage and the crumbled pretzels after his planned dish of potatoes burns. Aarón gives a high compliment when he says the dish reminds him of spit-roasted goat and the farro is perfectly cooked.
At first Laila's shocked by the baby goat, but after she finds her competitive focus, she's ready to cook. She rubs the legs with herbs and sears them. With the farro she creates a risotto-like dish. She makes a sauce using wine, cream and the crumbled pretzels. For a side dish she cooks the broccoli rabe with curry powder and carrots. Marcus thinks the dish is a perfect representation of Laila's style of home-cooking. But the judges do find the goat is undercooked, which leads them to chop Laila.
Scott makes a brown butter-almond cake with chocolate and olive oil mousse. He has trouble separating the eggs, but after a few tries, he gets back in the groove. He turns the grapes into a sauce and combines the cannoli cream with mascarpone and bone marrow to create another mousse. Even though he makes the cakes in mini pans, they don't bake up in time, so he tears off pieces for the plating. Geoffrey doesn't mind the mangled bits of cake, but Marcus finds the two mousses too similar in texture.
Gavin creates a crumble from the bone marrow, freeze-dried grapes and almonds. He puts the cannoli cream through a screen to remove the chocolate chips and pipes it onto the plate. His dish features a lemon semifreddo to balance the marrow's fattiness. The judges commend the unique pairing, but taking into account all of his dishes, they decide to chop Gavin. Read Gavin's exit interview on FN Dish.
Scott impressed his fellow judges with his expert use of the mystery basket ingredients, giving them dishes worthy of their praise and proving that he can cook just as well as he judges. As the new All-Stars Champion, Scott earned $50,000 for his charity, Keep Memory Alive. Read Scott's exclusive interview on FN Dish.