Chopped All-Stars, Season 4: Part 1 in Review

See highlights from the first part in the $75,000 charity tournament to see how chefs Eric Greenspan, Madison Cowan, Brian Malarkey and Art Smith dealt with the mystery baskets.
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Photo By: David Lang ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cooking by Southern Persuasion

Using smoked pork tails, cilantro, natto and clams, the chefs are challenged to create an appetizer in 20 minutes. "My secret strategy is to put a little Southern in every dish," says Art. "They eat everything except the squeal," he explains about the region, so he's not afraid to cook with the pork tails.

A Game of Hide-and-Don't-Seek

"That natto — I can't get it out of my mouth," says Brian, who tasted the fermented soybeans for the first time. "Get me a toothbrush, please!" He decides to "stomp [it] out of existence" by pureeing it with canned chipotle. "I would have never gone there," says Amanda. The other chefs find the natto just as difficult.

How Much Is Too Much?

"It's such an explosion of flavors," says Maneet upon tasting Madison's pho. The only chef familiar with natto, Madison was able to "tamp down the funkiness," as Amanda says. Conversely, the judges find it noticable in the dishes from Eric and Brian, whose chipotle puree was "overpowering," which led to his being chopped.

An Entree with Attitude

Art butchers the basket ingredient hamachi, making sure to remove the bloodline, and crusts the fillets in shrimp skin and green garlic, two other required items. He segments a pomelo, the final basket ingredient, for a quinoa salad. "I'm from the South," he says. "We dress the salad ... we don't call it vinaigrette."

Uncharacteristic Missteps

"I start plating, but I realize I didn't actually reduce the dashi shrimp skin sauce," says Madison, deciding to scrap the sauce at the last minute. Luckily, he's utilized the shrimp skin as a crust on his fish. "The bottom line is, I've had better days," says Madison, the former champion who now feels unlike himself.

Back in the Game

"I got my mojo working now," says Eric, who hopes this round will redeem him from that last dish, which nearly got him chopped. He oil-poaches the hamachi to keep it moist and turns the shrimp skin into a sauce with pomelo juice. Running around the kitchen, he says, "Inside I'm calm; outside I'm a maniac!"

There's a First Time for Everything

"I don't think I've ever seen you stumble," Scott tells Madison after tasting his fish-and-chips dish. "This bloodline needed to be removed," he adds. Amanda points out that the dish is also overcooked. "I don't think I know how to take this walk, but I'm going to take it anyway," Madison says after he's chopped for the first time.

A Happy Coincidence

Seeing the basket ingredients of maple smoked cheddar cheese, almond flour, mayonnaise and dates has Eric riled up. "They were daring me to make a grilled cheese," says the well-known grilled cheese expert. "I'm stoked!" He's aware it's not a classic dessert, but thinks he can spin it as a cheese course.

Taking on Two of Chopped's Evils

"I am convinced I can bake a cake in 30 minutes," says Art, who's also decided to make ice cream. "God, make it work," he says, using the ice cream machine for the first time. "I'm trying to pretend I'm not sweating," he says, feeling the judges watching him as he hurriedly plates in the final five minutes.

Is It or Isn't It a Dessert?

"For me this was meant to be a cheese course," Eric responds to Amanda after she tells him she would have liked "a bunch of powdered sugar" on the grilled cheese sandwich. "I don't think there's enough cheese for a cheese course," Scott emphasizes. "You're already skirting the lines," he adds.

And the Chopped Champion Is ...

Art is declared the Chopped champion, earning the first spot in the finale for a chance at winning $75,000 for his charity, Reunion. "I'm in the finale," he says. "It's absolutely amazing!"

More Chopped All-Stars

Go behind the scenes of the tournament: Browse photo galleries, watch video highlights and read exclusive interviews from the winning chefs.

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