Chopped Champions, Season 5: Meet the Competitors

Get to know the 16 previous Chopped winners returning to battle it out in the five-part Champions tournament for a chance to win $50,000 and the title of Chopped Grand Champion.
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Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Battle 1: Daniel Sharp

Growing up in Sacramento, Calif., Daniel was always encouraged to eat healthy. But to spite his parents, he started cooking so he could eat the foods he wasn't allowed. After college, he got work as a waiter, and eventually ended up in the kitchen. Although Daniel has no formal training, he's learned by experience, even apprenticing in Italy. He is the corporate executive chef of The Meatball Shop in New York City.

Previous Winning Episode: Every 'Wich Way

Battle 1: Elderoy Arendse

Originally from South Africa, Elderoy, the youngest of 10 children, moved to New York City in 1993 to live with his sister. He put himself through college while working as a dishwasher, and moved up the ladder to professional kitchens, eventually quitting school to work full-time. He is currently the executive chef of Tender Greens in Los Angeles.

Previous Winning Episode: G'day, Chefs!

Battle 1: Meny Vaknin

Born in Israel, Meny grew up in a Jewish-Moroccan household, where food was always important. Many of his childhood memories involve food and cooking. After his mandatory service in the Israeli military, Meny worked as a farmer before leaving for New York City at the age of 22. He is now the owner and executive chef at Mishmish Cafe in New Jersey.

Previous Winning Episode: Hot Stuff

Battle 1: Stacey Givens

Stacey grew up the youngest of seven with a Greek mom and a dad from Arkansas. After traveling around the country for much of her youth, Stacey ended up in Portland, Ore. There she runs an urban farm, The Side Yard, which is also a supper club and catering company rolled into one. Stacey wears many hats, including those of farmer, chef, forager and cheese maker.

Previous Winning Episode: Scoop's On!

Battle 2: Adam Greenberg

Much of Adam's love for food comes from the big Jewish dinners he was a part of in his blended family. After he dropped out of college, Adam's parents convinced him to get a job, and he ended up working at a friend's restaurant, which set him on his career path. He eventually attended culinary school and is currently the executive chef of Barcelona Wine Bar in Washington, D.C.

Previous Winning Episode: Late Night Food Brawl

Battle 2: Dafna Mizrahi

Dafna grew up in a Jewish-Mexican household, raised by her grandparents in Mexico, before moving to Atlanta at the age of 10 to rejoin her mother. Much of her childhood revolved around food, and Dafna spent a lot of time cooking with her mom. She is currently is the owner, general manager and executive chef of Monte's Local Kitchen and Tap Room in Amenia, N.Y.

Previous Winning Episode: Chopped Gastropub

Battle 2: Georgeann Leaming

Born in South Jersey and raised by a single dad, Georgeann would cook with her three sisters while their father was at work. While teaching preschool, Georgeann decided she wanted to pursue cooking professionally, and attended culinary school. After graduating, she found restaurant work in Atlantic City. She eventually moved to Philadelphia and opened Suppa, where she is the executive chef.

Previous Winning Episode: Peri Peri Determined

Battle 2: Thiago Silva

Originally from Brazil, Thiago moved to New York City at the age of 6 with his mom and sisters. Here his mom started her own catering business and his stepdad worked as a chef. Inspired by all the cooking around him, Thiago started decorating cakes for his mom's business. With no formal training, Thiago worked his way up through the ranks. He is currently the corporate executive pastry chef for the EMM Group.

Previous Winning Episode: Fabulous Baker Boys

Battle 3: Deborah Caplan

Growing up in Nutley, N.J., with a dietitian for a mom, Deborah was always into healthy eating and fitness. Watching Food Network religiously and doing a lot of baking at home helped her make up her mind at age 15 to become a chef. Deborah eventually attended Johnson and Wales in Florida, and later moved to New York City, where she is currently the sous chef at Alex Guarnaschelli's Butter Restaurant.

Previous Winning Episode: Oktoberfest!

Battle 3: Mo Major

Mo was strongly influenced by his grandfather, who was a chef. Growing up in New Rochelle, N.Y., with his grandparents living nearby, Mo found his passion for cooking. Eventually he decided on a culinary path, even dropping out of college. Although he's entirely self-taught, Mo worked his way up the ladder. He's now the executive chef at the Huguenot Yacht Club.

Previous Winning Episode: T.G.I. Fry-day

Battle 3: Raffaele Ronca

In Naples, Italy, Raffaele grew up surrounded by food, either making pasta with his mom or working in his uncle's butcher shop from the age of 11. Raffaele emigrated to the United States at the age of 21. His experience helped him find work at many Italian restaurants in New York City, where he now is the chef and owner of Ristorante Rafele.

Previous Winning Episode: Knife Strife

Battle 3: Rian "RoRo" Morales

RoRo was set on a career in the fashion industry after having attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. After a rough patch in his life, he switched career paths to his other passion, cooking. Although he has no formal training, RoRo got jobs at many different restaurants, which all influenced his cuisine. He now runs a catering business and hopes to one day open a restaurant.

Previous Winning Episode: Mummies and Gummies

Battle 4: Adam Sappington

Adam's family gatherings always centered on fried chicken and biscuits. He started cooking at age 19 while in a rock band, and he soon saw that food could be his career path. He eventually went to culinary school and started working in restaurants. After raising a family with his wife Jackie, the two opened The Country Cat in Portland, Ore.

Previous Winning Episode: Double Trouble

Battle 4: Andre Fowles

Growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, Andre was inspired to cook by his grandmother, who raised him and taught him all about cooking and baking. She runs a cook shop, where Andre started working when he was old enough, and his experience there eventually led him to want to become a chef. He moved to New York City a few years ago to further his career, and is now the sous chef at Miss Lily's Restaurant.

Previous Winning Episode: Cooking Caribbean

Battle 4: Jackie Sappington

As the child of a single mom, Jackie would help with preparing dinner from an early age. Originally from Los Angeles, she moved to Portland, Ore., to attend college. There she studied anthropology, but in her spare time she would bake, and eventually discovered her love for pastry. With her husband, Adam, she runs The Country Cat. The two recently released a cookbook, Heartlandia.

Previous Winning Episode: Double Trouble

Battle 4: Silvia Baldini

After studying in Italy and in California, Silvia ended up working in advertising in New York City for 17 years before deciding on a complete career change. She moved to Europe with her husband, attended culinary school and eventually found work in a number of Michelin-starred restaurants. She now runs her own creative food group, Strawberry and Sage, in Connecticut.  

Previous Winning Episode: Fake Cake, Real Stakes

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