The third episode of Chopped All Stars had past Food Network Star competitors battling it out for a chance to go to the Finale. Michael Symon and Jeffrey Saad were the winners in the previous two episodes. Today, the challengers were: Vic “Vegas” Moea, Penny Davidi, Justin Balmes, and Chris Nirschel. All of the chefs were non-winning contestants on season seven of the Next Food Network Star. However, all were very popular with audiences and this likely played a part in their casting for this season of Chopped.
The judges for this episode were Arron Sanches, Scott Conant, and Amanda Freitag. The judging would take place across three courses: appetizers, entrées, and desserts. Each judging round is timed, putting an emphasis on quick planning and execution. The judges award points for presentation, taste, and creativity and each round has four secret ingredients that must be incorporated into a dish. The winner of this episode would go on to a Finale where they will have the chance to win $50,000 for a charity of their choice.
The appetizer round had the secret ingredients of razor clams, breakfast radishes, green grape tomatoes, and shrimp paste. None of the chefs knew to clean the clams under running water, as they have residual sand inside the shells. Penny, a self-described Persian princess, took the time to stuff the tomatoes with her clam filling. The chef who was eliminated during the appetizer round was Chris Nirschel for using the overpowering flavor of truffle oil.
The entrée round had the secret ingredients of culotte steak, Okinawa sweet potatoes, turnips, and strawberry leather. Culotte steak is the cap of the top sirloin cut of beef. Penny used her fingernails to beat the steak into a uniform height. Justin lost time fighting with his food processor and he struggled to make up the time. The chef who was eliminated during this round was Justin Balmes, who undercooked his steak.
The dessert round featured a secret basket of ingredients including mango chutney, white apricots, blue cornmeal and bacon bits. White apricots are a sweeter, more fragrant type of apricot. Vic made a bread pudding with drunken summer fruits. The bread never crisped up however, and the chutney was unpalatable. Penny made an apricot stuffed pastry but the judges found it very dry.
The winner for the episode was Penny Davidi. She will be seen again on the Finale battling to win money for her charity of choice.