Chopped!: Scott Conant is so angry!

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Raiding the fridge on Chopped!.
Raiding the fridge on Chopped!.

Last night's episode of string cheese, jicama and gingersnaps featured some of the harshest criticism (save Gordo's filthy tirades) that we've seen on any reality cooking show. A cantankerous Scott Conant was containing some serious anger on Chopped!. He was joined at the judge's table by Amanda Freitag and Geoffrey Zakarian. As for the contestants, there was Jonathan Jernigan of Catering by Jonathan; giant of a man Darius Peacock, executive chef of Exceptional Taste Catering; and executive chefs and business partners King Phojanakong of Kuma Inn and Phet Schwader, exec chef at Talay (which he runs with Phojanakong).

The appetizer round found the chefs working with chicken wings, soba noodles, celery and string cheese. All of the chefs were in a rush to cook the chicken in time, but only Schwader and Peacock were able to serve completed dishes. Schwader's chicken miso broth with soba and pickled onions was praised for its competent use of the ingredients, and Peacock received compliments for stuffing his chicken wings with cheese and celery. Conant was so aggravated by Phojanakong and Jernigan's decision to serve the celery and string cheese whole that he suggested chopping them both until Zakarian chimed in. And so, Zakarian delivered Jernigan a nasty chop: "Your dish failed on all three levels: creativity, presentation and taste. We all thought it was just awful and you are chopped"—burn!

For entres, the chefs were given striped bass, pimento peppers, jicama, mango and Brie. Even the judges were confounded by the prospective combo of cheese and fish, but Schwader and Peacock delivered once again, with Peacock using his Brie in a very clever savory bread pudding, and Schwader earning points for a flavorful red-pepper-and-onion puree complementing his fish. As for Phojanakong, Freitag felt he didn't take advantage of the second chance they gave him, and Conant had this to say: "I'm gonna try and control my anger toward the food that I had today. None of your cooking components actually came together at all. You can't move forward." Anything you need to work out with your therapist there, Scotty?

Desserts had to be made with gingersnaps, crme frache, instant coffee and carrots. Peacock put forth a carrot genoise with raspberry syrup and ginger coffee cream, and Schwader was reprimanded for a gummy and too-thick crpe. In the end, the judges felt that Peacock "just brought a level of passion, love and soul to his plates" that Schwader was missing, and so he was chopped.—Zachary Feldman

Next week: More chefs tackle jumbo shrimp, pepperoni, and cereal!

Related: See all Chopped! posts.

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2 comments
KL
KL

Oops, sorry, it was NOT Jackie Lee. But another chef in a later season did just placed the pretzels as is on her dish during the entree round. But her food was so good that the judges overlooked it and she went on to win.

KL
KL

I saw the episode. The judges were right in their annoyance that two of the chefs did absolutely nothing to trasnsform two of the mystery ingredients. In Jonathan's case, even I couldn've made that dish. As for King, I think he was B.S.ing with the judges that he had a more elaborate plan in mind but just didn't have the time to implement it. It worked as Zakarian spoke in his defense and they wind up keeping him for the entree round. I remember one other chef in season one, Jackie Lee, did a similar thing. One of the mystery ingredient was pretzel and she just placed them unaltered on the plate. But her cooking was so fantastic that the judges was willing to overlook that one no-no and she ultimately going on to win. So if Jonathan and King were not going to do anything with the celery and cheese, at the very least their chicken should come out fantastic.