Top Moments of Chopped: Impossible

Browse highlights from the tournament to find out who got chopped and who earned a spot in the final battle.
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Photo By: Susan Magnano

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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.

The Aim of Chopped: Impossible

"Chopped is tough enough anyway," says Robert about the challenge at hand, "but when there's one competitor left they get to go against me." "Mano a mano," Ted says. "It might be womano a mano," Alex corrects him. "The baskets are actually more impossible than usual," Chris says. "I am waiting for the day when we open a basket and a live animal walks or flies out," says Alex.

Unappealing Textures

"I immediately think ravioli," says Barry when he sees the beef fajita meat in the appetizer basket. He decides to use the flying fish eggs and the whipped topping in a crema, and turns the cheeseburger Bloody Mary into a ragu. "I have to solve the impossible riddle that is the basket," he says. He tries to turn the hamburger bun into croutons, at first deep-frying them and then sauteing them. "I love the idea of the ravioli," says Robert, but he can't get over the oily croutons. Barry is the first to be chopped.

Fish and Fusion Confusion

Despite negative feedback earlier, Diane makes it to the entree round. "I don't like this basket at all," she says, deciding to fry the mackerel from the basket, using the durian cookies as a coating. She makes a salad out of the pork stomach in soy and the edible flowers. "Your big muscles won't get you anywhere," she says, hoping to see what Robert can do on Chopped. Alex feels she shouldn't have fried an oily fish like mackerel, and Chris doesn't like the large chunks of pork stomach, so Diane is chopped.

Raring to Earn a Win

Chefs Marc and Roxanne make it to the dessert round, where they must cook with Welsh rarebit, apple teeth, nacho cheese tortilla chips and gumdrops. "I think it's ridiculous," says Roxanne about the basket, but she starts working on a peanut butter marshmallow ice cream. "The gumdrops are the worst out of this basket," she says, using only citrus colors to melt for candying the apples in. Chris feels Roxanne underutilized the rarebit, and Robert agrees: "I think you could have highlighted the ingredients better."

Watch the Highlight: Chopped: Impossible Highlights

A Light-Bulb Moment

"When I open up the basket, I really don't know what to do," says Marc, "so I just begin to pick everything apart." He walks into the pantry to get some inspiration, but he's drawing a blank. "I'm a very competitive person," he says, so he slowly figures out his concept. As Ted makes his five-minute-warning call, Marc finally has his dish, a play on Southern apple pie. Although Alex and Chris find Marc's dessert too sweet, Robert disagrees: "It's a home run for me." Marc wins the round, earning the first spot in the finale.

Part 2: Striking the Right Balance

"We have detonated a salt bomb," Ted says to judges Geoffrey, Maneet and Robert after revealing that prosciutto, dried olives, green gelatin and salted duck are the appetizer basket ingredients. "Impossible can happen," says Robyn, who makes a warm radicchio and arugula salad. Despite the judges thinking the only way to deal with the basket is to add pantry ingredients, they find that Robyn simply brought too much of the pantry to the plate, and she is the first one chopped.

Understanding a Product's Limitations

"That was a lesson to you," Robert tells the three remaining chefs as they go into the entree round, which has them cooking with chicken in a can, sweet lemons, corn cob jelly and crawfish tails. "My strategy for this round is to just step up the competition," says Timothy. He's making tarragon chicken with Creole crawfish sauce. "There's a lot of good thought here," Geoffrey tells him upon tasting the dish, but unfortunately the precooked crawfish was overcooked even more, and Timothy is chopped for it.

Trying to Do the Impossible

"I am trying to do something different, something that they've never seen before," says Nong, who's making a Thai dessert out of the ostrich egg, balsamic vinegar, meat lover's sub sandwich and chunky peanut butter in the basket. She cooks the egg yolk in a simple syrup and combines the peanut butter with coconut milk. "In terms of flavors and textures, this is delicious," Maneet tells Nong. "When I watched you do it, I was like, 'Oh, no,'" Robert says. But he loved it all except for the sandwich croutons.

Watch the Highlight: Chopped: Impossible Highlights

Defining His Cooking Strategy

"In the previous round it was just too close for comfort," says James. "I want there to be a definitive difference between myself and Nong." James puts the finishing touches on his balsamic sponge cake with peanut butter cream and sub-meat ice cream, and he thinks it's a winning plate. "I just don't taste it," says Geoffrey of the vinegar, and he believes the ice cream had too much sub meat. Robert's only critique was that the cake could have been sliced. James wins the round and earns the second spot in the finale.

Part 3: Out of the Fryer and Into the Fire

Presented with an appetizer basket containing alligator, zucchini blossoms, guacamole with roasted crickets and cricket flour, Leslie decides to make alligator nuggets. "I'm treating the alligator kind of like I would do fried chicken," she says, marinating chunks in hot sauce. But when the time comes to get them into the fryolator, Leslie steals a fryer basket from Emily, who then doesn't get to fry all her squash blossoms. The judges find Leslie's batter heavy and the alligator overcooked, and she's chopped.

Watch the Highlight: Chopped: Impossible Highlights

You Eat with Your Eyes First

Jonathan decides to combine two of the entree basket ingredients into a pureed sauce: the fiddlehead ferns and the yolk from the hundred-year-old egg. The marshmallow chicks from the basket go into his polenta, and he simply sears the basket's skate wing. As he's plating he realizes the color of his sauce is "off-putting," so he tries to cover it with a slaw. Unfortunately, Aarón can't get over the color or the texture of the sauce, and Jonathan is chopped.

One Stroke of Genius, But It's Not Enough

"My first thought is little, thin crispy cookies," says Antonio, upon seeing the black garlic in the dessert basket, deciding to incorporate the ingredient into the dough, which he spreads thinly onto silicone mats. He decides to caramelize the bananas and turn the vanilla ice cream into a berry coulis. "That is a stroke of genius," Aarón tells Antonio of the black garlic cookies, which Antonio shaped as bowls. But after considering all three courses, the judges decide to chop him.

From Panic to Progress

"When I see the dessert sushi, I am panicking," says Emily, thinking the basket ingredient is real sushi, but once she realizes what it actually is, she finds her calm. She's more focused now than in her first round, when she shook like a leaf. She starts making a crumble with spiced creme anglaise made from the vanilla ice cream in the basket. She also decides to make her own ice cream out of the bananas. Despite Robert finding her dessert salty, the judges award Emily the title of champion.

Part 4: Focusing on the Food

"It's not about the muscle. It's about the food," says Marc when he sees Robert in the kitchen. Marc uses both the bread and the fillet from the fish fillet sandwich to go with his ceviche of geoduck, which he pairs with roasted purple artichokes and spring garlic. "I think I tamed the geoduck beast," he says, but Aarón doesn't agree. Scott feels "there's not a lot of cohesion" among the basket ingredients, and Amanda finds Marc brought out "greasy fryer flavors" by re-cooking the fish. Marc is the first chef chopped in the finale.

Mind Over Matter

"Fried brain?" asks James. "This basket just sucks," he says. Emily, on the other hand, is excited for the ingredient. James decides to use chorizo to add more protein, and he uses the chocolate mint in the dumplings he's making. He combines the dried pomegranate seeds and the sauce from the spaghetti rings to make a bourbon barbecue sauce. The judges find his dish didn't have enough of the sauce, which Amanda feels has too much bourbon. The judges chop James, and Emily earns the chance to take on Robert.

Who's Got the Beef?

Using cow's feet, cow's tongue, chateaubriand and beef jerky soda, Robert and Emily cook off against each other in a wild-card round. "I owe it to the other 11 competitors ... to beat Chef Robert Irvine," says Emily, who decides to do a take on meat and potatoes. "So, I know beef," says Robert, but this challenge is to create a dish that's not "overly beefed," he adds. He stuffs the beef with ground tongue and makes a sauce from the feet and soda. Emily uses the tongue in fritters and adds the soda to her gravy, but it doesn't work. "I'm not going to let my now broth that should be gravy dishearten me," she says.

A Modern David vs. Goliath

"It's absolutely impossible to imagine myself not taking down Robert Irvine," says Emily of her journey so far. "What's at stake for me right now is my reputation as a chef," says Robert. "I don't like to lose ever." Amanda calls Emily's dish "above and beyond" in creativity, but the broth throws off Scott. And Aarón finds Robert's beef not seared or salted enough. "This competition wasn't about impossible ingredients. It was more about the chefs overcoming their impossible," Emily tells Robert. In coming to the final decision, judge Scott says: "It's not about who made the better dish … [but] who's the champion?" The judges decide Emily "pushed the lines of creativity more," according to Scott, and beat Robert to win $40,000.

More Chopped: Impossible

Find out more about the competition, go behind the scenes of the battles, read interviews from the chefs and vote in the Most-Impossible Ingredient poll.

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