Chopped Ultimate Champions: Heroes — Part 3 in Review

Browse highlights from the Heroes round of the Chopped Ultimate Champions tournament.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: David Lang ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

The Second Round of Amateurs

Returning Chopped champions Army veteran Robbie Myers, firefighter Paul Rut, former police officer Diana Sabater and firefighter Richard Fields are battling for a spot in the Ultimate Champions finale, where they'll have a chance to win $50,000 in prize money and a brand-new car.

Appetizer Basket

The dishes must include sablefish, pineapple, fruit-and-nut bars and turnips. "All these competitors have had enormous mental training, so this is like another battle for them," says Aarón of watching the heroes furiously attack the basket ingredients.

Force to Be Reckoned With

"I'm a fighter," says Diana, determined to put out her best dish. "I will fight to the bitter end to win." She's making sablefish tacos with a spicy red pepper sauce "to stay true to my Latin roots," she says, and she uses both the pineapple and the turnip roots in a salsa.  

Ready for Surprises

"Every day you never know what you're going up against," says Paul of his job as a firefighter. "It's just like being on Chopped." So looking at the basket of ingredients is almost no different, from his perspective. He decides to use the turnip greens for a salad to accompany his pan-seared sablefish.

Almost a Pro-in-the-Making

"I fall in the amateur category, but I've always looked at myself as a professional chef," says Robbie of his experience as a food services specialist in the Army. But when it comes to competing, he lets his anxiety get to him when he tries to pulverize the fruit-and-nut bars with panko for crusting his sablefish.

Captain of His Own Destiny

"Being a captain gives me the ability to manage chaos," says Richard, "and I bring that same attitude to the competition." Finding the pineapple in the basket leads Richard to take his dish in a tropical direction, using its juice along with citrus juice in the marinade for his sablefish.

Heroes with Pro Potential

"I'm super impressed," Chris tells the competitors. "If you guys keep cooking like this, the winner today has a good shot to beat that pro." Although most of the dishes hit high flavor notes, both Robbie's and Richard's sablefishes were undercooked, but ultimately Richard is chopped.

Ambitious Aspirations

"I want that Michelin-star-rated restaurant," says Robbie as he frenches the rack of lamb, an ingredient in the entree basket, which also contains papaya, peppermint patties and spring garlic. He decides to cook the last three ingredients into a sauce, hoping the papaya will "tone down that peppermint."

Inexperience Leads to Creativity

"I don't have any experience butchering lamb," worries Diana, so she doesn't know how much fat to leave on or off. She ends up slicing the rack into chops, seasoning them for grilling. With the peppermint patties she settles on a spicy sauce much like a Mexican mole, and makes a papaya and potato puree.

Presenting a Square Meal

"I think this is going to be an award-winning dish," Paul says about his roasted double chops. On the side he decides to make spaetzle. For a sauce, he reduces red wine with lamb bones and the spring garlic, and decides to plate with asparagus. In this way, he says, "we have a vegetable, a starch and a protein."

When the Mistakes Add Up

"Each one of these heroes did something with a real pro touch," Chris tells his fellow judges, "but with 'amateur mistakes.'" Diana had inconsistently cooked lamb. Robbie had undercooked lamb. Despite Paul's perfect lamb, his relish didn't work and the spaetzle was dense, putting his dish on the Chopping block.

Dessert Basket

The dishes must include purple corn pudding, crystallized ginger, cinnamon spice coffee liqueur and pecans. The oddball ingredient in this basket is the purple corn pudding, which Aarón describes as "purple corn juice that has been thickened with cornstarch." Chris adds, "It literally tastes like bubblegum."

Redemption and Reinvention

"Last time I was on I made an ice cream sundae that the judges weren't thrilled about, so this is going to be my redemption," says Robbie, who's turning the purple corn pudding into an ice cream. He also infuses whipped cream with the coffee liqueur, and candies the pecans and crystallized ginger.

South-of-the-Border Influence

"The judges are liking my creativity and flavors," says Diana, so she reaches into her Latin arsenal to make churros, infusing the batter with the ginger and coffee liqueur. She hides the corn pudding in a chocolate sauce and makes a ginger caramel, but Robbie notices it's burning, so she has to start it over.

Almost Too Close to Call

The judges have very little to judge when it comes to dessert. Aarón commends Robbie for transforming the pudding into an ice cream. Chris tells Diana: "Churros is a very ambitious thing to do in this setting, and you did it successfully." The judges will have to pick apart every course in making their final decision.

Her Place in the Finale

Diana earns the second amateur spot in the grand finale, where she'll compete against the pro chef winner and the winners of the two other amateur rounds for a chance to win $50,000 and a brand-new car. "I'm hungry for it," says Diana. "Now I can say I'm a two-time Chopped champion."

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