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Judges get their just dessert as 'Chopped All-Stars' begins Sunday

Debbie Lee & Judging Panel_Ep 1 (3)
It’s time to turn the table on the “Chopped” judges.

“Chopped All-Stars" starts Sunday night for a special five-episode series featuring a who's who cast from Food Network, including network celebrities including Duff Goldman of “Ace of Cakes,” L.A. restaurant consultant and former “Next Food Network Star” competitor Debbie Lee and New York chef and “Next Iron Chef” competitor Nate Appleman.

But the delicious highlight is this: “Chopped” judges Maneet Chauhan, Amanda Freitag, Aaron Sanchez and Geoffrey Zakarian –- all chefs -- will face the dreaded chopping block themselves.

“It’s the question I get asked the most,” “Chopped” host Ted Allen said. “People want to know when we’re going to turn the tables on the judges -- those mean, nitpicky judges…Well, it’s here.”

For the uninitiated: Each competition starts out with four hopefuls, who face a mystery basket of ingredients designed to confound them and put their creativity to the test. They must use each ingredient to make an appetizer, entrée and dessert, all while up against the clock. One competitor is eliminated after each round until one chef is left standing.

This all-star series will lead to a finale featuring the winners from the earlier episodes. Week 1 features fan favorites from “The Next Food Network Star.” Week 2 features Food Network stars. Week 3 welcomes noted restaurant chefs. And Week 4 features the “Chopped” judges. The winner will get $50,000 for his or her favorite charity.

If you’re not watching “Chopped,” you should be. IMHO, it’s one of the single best food competitions on TV. The format leaves no time for the backbiting and petty drama that can mark so many other food competitions. On “Chopped,” there’s no time to do anything but cook your heart out. The judges also have plenty of discretion. What you cooked in Round 1 can help –- or hurt -– come Round 3 because the judges can draw on the entire performance to make their decisions.

"The level of competition is so elevated that it's thrilling,” Allen said of the "All-Stars" series. “You're not going to see a whole bunch of people who are nervous around the cameras [like the typical "Chopped" competitor who has rarely, if ever, been on TV.] You’re going to see a bunch of people who are comfortable on set, they know how to make delicious food and they know how to make it fast, and they’re very competitive and they hate to lose." 

He added: “We also have elements of tension that come from places you might not have expected.” Such as “Chopped” judges who don’t like to judge –- or be judged by –- their fellow judges.  “You can see how uncomfortable it makes everyone, they really squirm. Especially Alex,” Allen said with a laugh. "It makes for good TV.”

Alex is Alex Guarnaschelli, whose acid tongue makes her the harshest of the “Chopped” judges. (Although she hardly needs to speak to register her displeasure with a subpar dish. She just lowers her eyelids and glowers.) She will return as a judge in Week 4.

Will “Chopped” fans see the tables turned on Guarnaschelli at some point in the future? “We’ll see,” Allen said.

Allen will Tweet Sunday’s episode live. You can follow him @ChopTedAllen. But if you want to interact with him in the social media world, head on over to his Facebook page, where you’ll find him chit-chatting with fans and answering their questions.

--Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: From left, judges Alex Guarnaschelli and Marc Murphy, host Ted Allen and competitor Debbie Lee. Credit: Food Network

Comments () | Archives (11)

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Alexandra "Alex" Guarnaschelli - in the dictionary, I found her picture next to the words mean, nasty and ugly.

Honestly, for someone who's supposed to be a professional, she NEVER has a kind word to say about anyone's dish and if she could see her facial expression during an entire episode, I'm sure she would be more pleasant. With that constant frown, she is very hard on the eye. She also needs to lose about 50 pounds...maybe that would help. Other than that, I love the show.

Really, people. Get over yourselves and get a sense of humor. Do you honestly think he would literally kill a litter of puppies? I am an animal lover myself with pets in my home. I thought the comment was funny because I knew enough to take it as a joke and apparently the producers did as well. There are far, far, far worse things on TV than this. Lighten up.

My Mom and husband and I watch Chopped every week and we were so offended that the winner said that he would kill a litter of puppies if he won. OMG, why would you air something so repulsive to people who love animals and have them in their homes. I cannot believe that you would even consider chosing him as the winner. He sucked!!!!!!!!! I think Brad was definitely the better chef and more gracious. I am not sure that we will be watching this show anymore.

Much as I love Ted Allen and most of the "Chopped" contestants, I can't believe some of the gross and elistist ingredients in the baskets-who eats this stuff? If you want this show to be more then for foodies, try having cuts of meat or chicken that middle class people eat, vegetables that ordinary shoppers purchase and a more inclusive attitude!

I wish they had made Alex a contestant. She's mean!

If you want to keep politics out of shows do not have contestants talk about killing puppies way worse than milk comment.
Betty Gresham
animal lover

I am appalled at the comment made by Michael, the winner of last nights chopped all stars. He said that he would kill a litter of puppies to win this competition. What a disheartening way of making me upset that I even watched the show. I will watch the remainder of the shows, until the finale. Since he is in it, I will not be watching and think you'll have a lot of viewers saying the same thing

enjoy food net work but was angry that a contestant would win that said He would kill a litter of puppies to do it can not watch someone who would make a comment like that our puppies are our family.

Really like the show but couldn't get past last night's winner's comment[ being an avid animal lover] about that he would kill a litter of puppies to win don't think I care to watch him. too bad as I really enjoy food network.

My husband and I watch Chopped every week. We had an engagement tonight and taped tonight's show. We just finished watching the Chopped All-Stars first episode. We have been waiting for this for weeks, but.....we were shocked. We could not believe that the fan favorite that won this week said that he would kill a litter of puppies to win and that Chopped actually aired his comment! We were and are so offended by this! We have multiple animals--have rescued several that are sitting at my feet at this very moment that I am sending this to you. Really? Your producers could not edit that?!? Very offensive!!! And that fan favorite is the one playing for a charity that promotes acceptance of all people and their uniqueness and differences and is talking about killing puppies--even in humor or tongue in cheek cuteness--bad, poor taste for him and Chopped producters and editors!! Booh!!!

Love the show both me and my wife watch it often.Q.Who comes up with the recipes?


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