Chopped Grill Masters, Season 3: Tournament Rounds in Review

Browse highlights from the battles to find out which chefs got chopped and who earned spots in the finale for a chance to win $50,000.
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Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Chopped Winners Back for the Final Fight

The champions of the four preliminary rounds — Jonathon Sawyer, Daniel Gomez Sanchez, Tony Maws and Sophina Uong — have returned for the last battle in the Grill Masters tournament. They've each won $10,000 previously, but the single winner here will walk away with an additional $50,000 and the title of Chopped Grand Champion. See which chef rose to the top of the pack.

Taking the Wrong Cues

"You can use every part of it," says Tony, excited to get a pig's head in the appetizer basket; however, he decides to focus on just the jowls. "If they gave me the pig's head, they want the fat," says Tony, purposely plating fatty pieces alongside the other components of his dish. "It's an elegant dish," Geoffrey says, but notes that it's "a little bit more fat than meat." 

The Trouble with Tortillas

Jonathon also decides to focus on the jowls, and grills tomatoes to blend into a sauce with the basket's smoked chocolate chips. But with just minutes left he grills the homemade blue corn tortillas from the basket and whips together a crema. "It needs just a little more time," says Amanda of his tortillas, and Marc mirrors the comment. Similarly, the judges find Daniel's tortillas inconsistently cooked.

Hitting the Right Balance of Fat and Meat

"I start to smell the pig face burning," says Sophina, hurrying to take it off the heat just in time. Geoffrey is happy to find her meat is less fatty, but Amanda feels there's too much meat for an appetizer. "You gave us just enough of each," Marc tells Daniel of his dish, which featured the tongue, the cheek, the ears and some of the fat. After considering all four chefs' dishes, the judges chop Tony for plating too much fat.

When Confidence Takes a Tumble

"I need to take these guys down," Sophina says, heading into the entree round, where she'll have to cook with porterhouse steak, candied garlic, artichokes and razor clams. Having trouble getting her steaks to the correct doneness, Sophina starts to fumble: Just before plating, her blender filled with sauce tips over, and she knocks her pot of artichokes over. She's forced to stretch her ingredients for four plates.

Punching Up the Flavor, Almost

"How am I going to get a steak this thick cooked in 30 minutes?" Daniel says, sounding worried. His solution is to use just the strips, making a spice-and-herb blend with the candied garlic to rub on the meat. Daniel prepares the artichokes in a classic French method, and makes a sauce out of the razor clams. Marc and Geoffrey love the spice crust on the steaks, but Amanda finds the artichokes bland.

Unorthodox Grilling Method

"I don't know what he's thinking," says Marc, alarmed to see Jonathon putting whole steaks on the gas grill. Jonathon claims that cooking them bone-side down ensures the meat reaches "rare evenly." His reasoning: "My ambition is for the judges to remember me." Amanda says, "It almost tastes like it had been aged," but Geoffrey feels it's too rare and too thickly sliced. Jonathon admits to being too ambitious, which hindered his technique. The judges chop him for inconsistent plates.

Going from Almost Burnt to Bitter

"My technique is more refined, and I'm more creative," says Daniel, comparing himself to Sophina as they head into the dessert round. He's grilling the bananas and the chocolate babka, both basket ingredients, for his pain perdu. "I'm getting some burnt-sugar smells, and it's coming from Daniel's station," Amanda announces. Daniel checks on his desserts and they're fine. But Amanda finds his Cabernet syrup is bitter.

Killing It Silently, Too Subtly

"I kind of feel like I'm a silent assassin," says Sophina of going up against Daniel. She decides to turn the Cabernet Sauvignon from the basket into a wine reduction, and she melts down the goat cheese with cream and instant coffee. She then combines the cheese mixture with pureed babka to create a brownie batter. "I really like this dessert," Geoffrey tells her, but Marc finds the goat cheese flavor indiscernible.

Watch the Highlight: Grill Masters Season 3

The Chopped Grill Master

After considering all three courses, the judges decide to chop Daniel. "This decision comes down to a few minor points," Amanda tells him after the close race. Ted announces Sophina as the Chopped Grand Champion and the winner of $50,000. "It is the most-amazing feeling to be the champion," she says, "to know that I've beat so many badass chefs."

Part 4: Only 1 Spot Left

Chefs Tony Maws, Chrissy Camba, Tracy Anderson and Ken Hess are competing in Part 4 of the Chopped Grill Masters tournament. By the end of this last preliminary round in the tournament, one of them will earn $10,000 and land the final spot left in the finale for a chance to become the Grand Champion and win an additional $50,000. Find out which chef secures the fourth spot.

Ingredients Through Rose-Colored Glasses

Seeing the appetizer basket's hen of the wood mushrooms and avocados, Tony decides to grill them both. "I'm going to use the grill — that's why I'm here," he says of his decision to cook straightforwardly. And for the tri-tip in the basket, he makes his own harissa rub using the rose petal confit. But Amanda feels the rub disguises the required basket ingredient, and Geoffrey Zakarian finds the steak is tough.

When Time Is of the Essence

"Twenty minutes to do a tri-tip is pretty quick," says Ken, using the charcoal grill to impart a smoky flavor. However, he's cooking the meat whole, and he's realizing he doesn't have enough time to get it completely cooked on the inside. He hopes moving it to the gas grill will cook it like an oven would. Unfortunately Amanda finds her meat too rare in the center, and Marc comments on Ken plating too many slices of steak.

When It Tastes Better Than It Looks

"This is just the messiest thing I have ever made," says Tracy after plating her steak tacos right up until time is called. Presenting her dish, she excuses her presentation, but she gets a flattering critique: "So far I think this is the best use of the steak," says Marc. The compliments stop there, as Geoffrey finds her tortillas "doughy," and Amanda finds the chiles and garlic are "overpowering" the rose petal confit. But the judges decide to chop Ken for his inconsistent plates.

Clashing Cultures

"I hate grape leaves," says Tracy, who decides to chop up the entree basket ingredient for a salt element in her dish, which must also include red snapper, Meyer lemonade and beets. She uses the lemonade in her curry sauce, but with little time to reduce it, she thickens it with cornstarch. From the beets she creates a Mediterranean salad, but Amanda points out the competing flavors, calling them "not very cohesive."

Ingredient Inexperience

"I want to wring all the flavor out of this carcass," says Tony of the red snapper, using the bones to flavor his sauce. Conversely Chrissy wants to infuse flavor into the fish by smoking it. Deciding on a Filipino soup concept, she adds the grape leaves to her broth. Tony rolls up some of the leaves with hummus. But the judges point out that both chefs left the grape leaves uncooked, which Marc calls "a big mistake." The judges decide to send Tony and Chrissy on to the dessert round; Tracy is chopped for her gloppy sauce.

Midwestern Mentality

"I want to do a riff on ... my Midwestern roots," says Chrissy after seeing the olive oil cake, cheddar cheese, Gala apples and salted caramel in the dessert basket. She makes individual bread puddings, topping each with salted caramel frosting and cheese crisps made from the cheddar to highlight the apple pie with cheddar crust concept. "I think you incorporated the cheese very well here," Marc tells her.

Looking for the All-American Cheese

Going a similar route as Chrissy, Tony makes a pain perdu, flavored with ginger and fresh herbs. He infuses cream with the cheddar cheese and decides to put it through a whipped-cream canister, but it doesn't work. "There's no way I'm going down," he says, having no choice but to serve it as a sauce instead. Luckily the judges like the cream, but Amanda wants more of the cheese. "I could have gone Midwestern ... but I didn't think that was what this dessert called for," he tells the judges.

Watch the Highlight: Grill Masters Season 3

The Part 4 Champion

"I wouldn't call this a bread pudding," Geoffrey says of Chrissy's dessert, calling it dry, and Amanda thought Chrissy missed out on an opportunity to make a custard. In the end the judges decide Tony worked the ingredients better, and Chrissy is chopped. Tony earns $10,000 and the last spot in the Grill Masters finale, where he'll get the chance to fight for the grand prize of $50,000. "I'm amped up," Tony says. "I came out to Napa to win this whole thing, and that's what I'm looking forward to."

Part 3: Championship on the Line

Chefs Charles Grund, Brian Bruns, Jason Bergeron and Daniel Gomez Sanchez are competing in Part 3 of the Chopped Grill Masters tournament. After this round, one of them will earn $10,000 and land a spot in the finale for a chance to become the Grand Champion and win an additional $50,000. Find out who earned the third spot.

Curry in a Hurry

Daniel's excited to get abalone in the appetizer basket, which also contains rainbow chard, spa water and raisins on the vine. He decides a curry broth will tie all the components together. "There's only one thing you can do with abalone when you only have 20 minutes, and that's get it tender, and put it on some high heat," he says. "You cooked it just right," Marc tells him, and Amanda loves the curry direction.

Disagreeing Flavors

"My strategy coming into this competition is to ... try to keep the integrity of the ingredients," says Charles, who's making a chile-crusted abalone. He decides to grill the chard leaves and then add them to a saute pan. He finishes his plates with a spa water-raisin reduction, which Marc and guest judge John Koch find too sweet. Amanda, however, feels her dish does have a good amount of acidity.

All Alone on the Abalone

"It's not an ingredient I use every day," says Jason of the abalone. "I just don't know if it's going to be enough," he says, working hard to tenderize them with a mallet after already having cooked them on the grill. "I'm finding your abalone is a bit tougher," says Marc, comparing it to the others' dishes. Despite his improper cooking of the abalone, Jason isn't chopped; Charles is instead chopped for inconsistent plates.

Steakhouse Proportions

"I need to make all my ingredients perfect," Jason says, hoping he'll redeem himself with the entree ingredients: bone-in natural cut rib-eye steak, toybox eggplant, Padron peppers and a polenta log. Both he and Brian take similar directions, serving their steaks whole alongside a polenta and eggplant puree. The judges find both chefs' ratios off: There's too much steak to too little of the eggplant side dish.

Meticulous Maneuvering

Deciding on a Mediterranean direction, Daniel makes a spice paste with cumin, sesame and caraway to spread on the rib eyes. He grills both the eggplant and the polenta, and he makes a yogurt sauce to serve on the side. "I'm completely a perfectionist," he says, plating the steak in slices, unlike the other chefs. The judges enjoy his flavors the most, and they decide to chop Brian for inconsistently cooking the steaks.

Pistachio Problems

"I'm starting to dread the amount of work to open them all," says Daniel of the dessert basket ingredient pistachios in the shell. So he grabs shelled ones from the pantry. Using the poached pears from the basket, he decides to grill them and makes a caramel incorporating slab bacon from the basket. But when checking his pistachio crumble, he realizes it might not work as he had planned.

Watch the Highlight: Grill Masters Season 3

Helping Hand Game Play

"The poached pears seem like a great ingredient to put in a burrito," says Jason, grabbing flour tortillas. He also works on a Mexican-inspired mousse made from cocoa nibs and the chocolate trifle in the dessert basket. He ends up borrowing the shelled pistachios from Daniel, who borrows Jason's cocoa nibs. "Looking at my dessert side by side with Daniel's, I feel it's the better of the two," says Jason.

Comparing Pistachios and Mousses

Standing at the judges' table, Ted asks if either of the chefs utilized the pistachios in the shell, but both admit to not using them. "The good thing in the end is you both did the same thing," says Marc, jokingly. He likes Jason's mousse but finds the tortillas too doughy. Surprisingly Amanda likes the pistachio crumble, which Daniel almost didn't plate. But Marc points out that Daniel's trifle mousse is too sweet.

Part 3 Grilling Champion

"My dessert was far greater than his," says Jason, believing he's got the win in the bag, but the judges disagree and chop him. "You two really put up one heck of a fight," Marc says after Ted lifts the cloche. Daniel earns the $10,000 in the round and takes the third spot in the finale for a chance to earn $50,000 more. "It's so surreal right now," he says. "I feel like dancing!"

Part 2: Four More Contenders for the Finale

Chefs Sophina Uong, Christopher Schobel, Karen Mitchell and Nate Berrigan-Dunlop are competing in Part 2 of the Chopped Grill Masters tournament. At the end of this round, one of them will walk away with $10,000 and go on to the finale for a chance to become the Grand Champion and win $50,000 more. Find out who got that second spot.

Great Minds Think Alike

"It can set up for a pretty nice flatbread-type appetizer," says Christopher after seeing the lamb belly, baked beans, flatbread dough and grilled grapefruit in the appetizer basket. However, he's not the only chef with that idea: Everyone decides to puree the beans to use as a spread on the bread. But once Sophina sees her three competitors are grilling their bread, she decides to deep-fry hers.

Lowered Lamb Expectations

"Normally I would braise it for a couple of hours instead of grilling it in 15 minutes," says Nate, worried about the challenge of cooking the lamb belly. Christopher has trouble rendering the fat on his. Sophina worries hers might not be cooked through: "If I serve undercooked lamb to the judges, I'm going to be mortified," she says. The critiques end up falling on Karen's lamb when Marc gets a gristly piece.

Burned Bread vs. Doughy Dough

"I burned the flatbread, but it looks like something I'd eat," Christopher says, excusing his mistake. By some miracle Amanda gets the only piece that isn't overcharred. "It falls short just a little bit," says Amanda of Sophina's decision to fry the bread. Despite Nate's confidence in his flatbread dish, the judges find it doughy — "as soon as we cut into it," points out Amanda — and Nate is chopped.

Watch the Highlight: Grill Masters Season 3

Not Her Fish Forte

"I look at this spiky ball," says Karen, who, as a steakhouse chef, has never worked with sea urchin, one of the entree basket ingredients. The other ingredients she must utilize are reginelle, leeks and a side of halibut. Karen ends up overcooking the halibut, thinking it needed more time for being so thickly cut. "The basket gods were playing jokes on you," Amanda tells Karen, whose inexperience shows on the plate.

Making a Technical Misstep

"They have to figure out how they're going to get grilled or smoked flavor into this dish," Amanda say about what she thinks is the chefs' biggest struggle. With little experience using halibut, Christopher decides to bake his en papillote. "I wanted to know that it was cooked on the grill," Amanda tells him, adding that she wishes he would have poked holes in the foil packets and thrown some wood chips on the grill.

Unnoticeable Uni

Even though Sophina calls the halibut "not a good fish to grill," she decides to grill the flesh and the skin separately so that the skin gets crispy. She starts to worry about the sea urchin, saying, "I realize as I taste the sauce that I don't have enough uni flavor," so she adds more to the dish. "The skin is not so crispy," Amanda says, disappointed by the fish. Luckily, the judges can taste the presence of the sea urchin. Unfortunately, they don't taste it in Karen's dish, and she's chopped.

Gone with a Wisp of Smoke

Looking at the marshmallows in the dessert basket, Sophina decides to smoke them along with the strawberries, adding pineapple to the smoker too. She turns both fruits into a salsa, and serves her dessert with a cream made from the tamarind candies, and grilled cinnamon rolls. "The strawberries really did absorb that smoke," says Marc, surprised by the flavor, but the judges feel the marshmallows disappeared.

Almost Toasting the Competition

"I think I can make a parfait out of this," says Christopher of the cinnamon rolls, which he puts on the grill in individual cocottes. He is unfamiliar with the tamarind candies but feels he knows the flavor well enough to melt them into a sauce. He realizes too late that he's burned his rolls: "This is the move that's going to get me chopped," he says, trimming the charred bits. "I would never have known," Amanda says. Sophina's rolls, however, are noticeably charred.

Part 2 Grilling Champion

"You needed to push the fruit note a little harder here," Marc tells Christopher. The judges feel his tamarind sauce overpowered the components of his dessert, and he is chopped. Sophina wins $10,000 in this first round and earns the second spot in the finale for a chance to make an additional $50,000 in prize money. "I'm super-stoked that I made it through to the finale," she says.

Part 1: The Road to $50,000

Grillers Jonathon Sawyer, Ashley Pado, Bryan Moscatello and Chad Rosenthal are competing in Part 1 of Chopped Grill Masters. This round's champion will win $10,000 and go on to the finale for a chance to win an additional $50,000 and leave as the Grill Masters Grand Champion. Find out which of these chefs earned the first spot in the finale.

See More Photos: Chopped Grill Masters, Season 3: Meet the Grillers

Home Team Advantage

"I'm the only Napa chef here, so I'm competing for the home team," says Bryan, who's making charred octopus with Italian sausage and purple cauliflower puree, all three of which are appetizer basket ingredients. He melts the last basket ingredient, fruit pops, to make a dressing for the octopus. "I'm making stylistically fine-dining dishes," he says, plating his puree in a modern swirl before topping it with the octopus.

Watch the Highlight: Grill Masters Season 3

No Reward Without Risk

"How can I echo the bottom of the sea?" Jonathon contemplates as he works on a marinade to highlight its flavor. He decides to grill the cauliflower over wood chips. "I like the mystery of mesquite," he says. However it doesn't cook through in time. "I'm embarrassed to serve the cauliflower raw," he admits, but adds that he can't leave a required ingredient off the plate, because he wants "to be here for Round 2."

The Bigger Offense to Cauliflower

"I sort of wished for a little more smoke in there," Marc Murphy comments on Jonathon's cauliflower, thinking that cutting it smaller would have better achieved what the chef was going for. "For me this sauce is not waking up my palate," Marc says about Bryan's sausage-cauliflower sauce, wishing for a pop of heat. Bryan is chopped for a sauce that lacked flavor and was mismatched with the octopus.

Going Where the Basket Takes Her

"When I see the nachos, I instantly think Southwest," says Ashley of the ingredient in the basket, which also contains veal chops, pickled smoked okra and watermelon radishes. She decides to make a Southwestern rub for the chops, which she gets on the charcoal grill. She ends up cutting them off the bone halfway through cooking them, and returns them to the grill to finish.

Cooking with a Mexican Mindset

"I've been to Mexico a lot, and looking at the ingredients I see tacos reinterpreted," says Jonathon, making a Mayan-inspired rub with chile and coffee for his veal. Unfortunately, his veal isn't cooking the way he had hoped on the gas grill, so he moves it to the charcoal grill. For serving with it, he makes a classic salsa verde "just like you would see in Oaxaca," he says, hammering home his concept.

Who'll Be Chopped for a Bad Chop?

Judge Amanda Freitag finds Ashley's veal tender, and Marc loves the outer crust but finds "there are some pieces that are a little bit more rare, and some that are cooked perfectly." Marc reveals he was nervous watching Jonathon cooking the veal, and feels it didn't rest properly. Both chefs had issues with their veal, but Ashley is chopped for her meat's inconsistencies.

Romancing the Fruit

Seeing pineapple in the dessert basket, Jonathon decides to grill it over its own embers, calling it "the most-romantic expression of a pineapple." He also has honey gelato cones, Anaheim chiles and petimezi in the basket. Jonathon decides to turn the chiles into a chocolate sauce, but the mixture seizes. "Pastry chefs of the world, I'm sorry," he says, discarding it. He grills the peppers instead.

The Rivalry Is On

"I could beat Jonathon," says Chad, not intimidated by his fellow chef's many awards and accolades. "It's come down to a battle between Philadelphia and Cleveland," says Ted. Chad decides to make a bread pudding with the pepper and pineapple. "All I have to do is cook one dessert and cook it right," he says of his goal. He decides to use the petimezi, a grape-must molasses, in a red wine sauce.

It All Comes Down to the Pineapple

"I like the chiles in here," Amanda tells Chad, but she feels he didn't highlight the honey gelato or the pineapple. "It's almost really like a high-class bowl of cereal," says Jonathon to explain the concept for his dessert. "You're getting that milk-cereal infusion-type thing," Amanda agrees, praising its components. Her only critique is that she wanted more of the cannoli cream he made with the honey gelato.

Part 1 Grilling Champion

"If I leave a champion, I'm going to cartwheel all the way ... to the finals," says Jonathon. And after Chad is chopped for neglecting the pineapple in his dessert, Jonathon might just have to do that. He wins $10,000 in this first round and takes the first spot in the finale, getting the chance to win an additional $50,000. "I'm going to bring the flavor, and I'm going to bring the fire," he tells the judges before cartwheeling.

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