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'Chopped All-Stars' recap: Poor Robert

March 14, 2011 |  1:10 pm

Burrrell300 Best "Chopped" episode ever. Am I right?

It was no surprise that Anne Burrell and Robert Irvine would face off against each other in the final round of "Chopped All-Stars." But it still made for outstanding TV. This week, the all-star spinoff of the series hosted by Ted Allen featured a showdown of the TV show chef/hosts. There was Claire Robinson of "Five Ingredients Fix"; Burrell of "Worst Cooks in America" (and other shows); Irvine, co-star of "Worst Cooks" and host of "Dinner: Impossible"; and Duff Goldman, a.k.a. "Ace of Cakes."

"Chopped" chef/competitors are given a basket of mystery ingredients and an insanely short amount of time to turn them into an appetizer, entree or dessert. The chefs who normally appear on "Chopped" are all experienced in the kitchen -- but have little to no experience on a TV set or in a cooking competition. That results in some spectactular flame-outs.

This week, we saw how experience in front of the camera can pay off in the "Chopped" kitchen. Irvine's "Dinner: Impossible" is basically an extended version of "Chopped" and Burrell has been a frequent victor in "Iron Chef: America" as Mario Batali's secret weapon.

The judges were blown away by Burrell and Irvine's ability to create multiple elements in the          kitchen -- and not just the ingredients they were given. Burrell managed to make a flatbread, for crying out loud. And yet they still had enough time for a visually stunning presentation. (Fans of "Chopped" know that sometimes the competitors have barely enough time to slap their food on a plate.)

Maybe it's just me, but it seemed downright unfair to pit Burrell and Irvine against Goldman and Robinson. In retrospect, you have to wonder why Goldman and Robinson would even take that bait. Like they need that smack in the chops. (Yes, I know they are all competing for $50,000 for charity, but still.)

In the end, Burrell won. Again. She has been beating Irvine at his own game repeatedly and won't let him forget it. Both served up stellar dishes that had judge Marc Murphy wondering aloud how they could choose a winner.

It all came down to dessert, fennel and the spirit of the competition.

Irvine sidestepped the pesky fennel by turning it into a secondary element as he plowed forward with his pretty little chocolate pots de creme. But Burrell embraced the concept of fennel for dessert, a bravado that the "Chopped" judges love. She turned out a trio of sweets (including a stab at ice cream) that highlighted fennel's licorice taste.

Irvine was none too happy. "I lost to Anne. Again," he said. "What do you want me to tell you? That I'm not upset? Yeah, I am."

For Burrell's part, when Irvine turned to congratulate her again, she retorted "Go away!" She wanted the stage to herself.

Forget "All-Stars." It looks like Burrell will be the last star standing. Did you watch? What did you think?

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--Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

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