Coconut, Calamari, Donuts
Season 1, Episode 8
CCD Chefs
Air date March 03, 2009
Winner Mina Newman
Episode Guide
Quail, Arctic Char, Beer
Mac & Cheese, Cola, Bacon
The mandatory ingredients in the appetizer make the chefs nervous when they coconut for appetizers, calamari for entrée and donuts with smoked gouda for dessert.


  • Francesco Peluso, Executive Chef, Peluso's Italian Specialties, Clifton, NJ
  • Mina Newman, Executive Chef, Christos Steakhouse, Astoria, NY
  • David Ogren, Executive Chef, Almos Restaurant, New York, NY
  • Gwen LePape, Executive Chef, Frederick's Restaurant, New York, NY




Ingredients: Turbot, Nori Sheets, Pistachios, Coconut

Chef Francesco: Sautéed Turbot Wrapped in NoriEdit

Franceso's California Roll
Francesco's appetizer was sautéed turbot in a seaweed wrap with pistachio and sprinkled with toasted coconut. Alex found his pistachios gave a burnt taste to the fish, but the turbot was cooked perfectly. She would have liked him to have used a sauce on this dish, as well as some salt and pepper in the dish. Aarón appreciated that he used the nori as a wrap, whereas the other competitors simply chopped it up and seemed almost afraid of using it.

Chef Mina: Seared Turbot with Potato and Bacon HashEdit

Mina's Turbot and Hash
Mina made seared turbot with a potato and bacon hash and a lime-coconut vinaigrette. Aarón liked how the coconut gave a good texture to the dish, and the vinaigrette was delicious. Chris noted that it very well-balanced and the fish was cooked perfectly. However, he felt it was the same texture throughout and he only got one pistachio in his bowl. He also felt that the presentation was sloppy, and felt that with her finishing with a minute to spare, she should have used that to mix up her presentation. Both he and Alex noted that it was too big for an appetizer.

Chef David: Pistachio Dusted Turbot with Coconut Potato PuréeEdit

David's Pistachio Turbot
David's dish was pistachio dusted turbot with a coconut, lime, nori vinaigrette and a coconut potato purée. Alex felt that the potato was a bit undercooked, but to her surprise, the raw potato flavor mixed with the coconut. She liked the acidic bite in his sauce, and thought he used the right amount of pistachio, but would have liked a bit more color and texture. Aarón liked how he cooked the turbot and how soft and delicate it was, but didn't see or taste the nori in the dish.

Chef Gwen: Pistachio Crusted TurbotEdit

Gwen made pistachio crusted turbot. However, he was unable to finish his dish, and he ended up not getting a single thing on any of his dishes out of refusal to serve undercooked food. With the permission of the other contestants, he was able to give the food he prepared to the judges. Chris remarked that it was very tasty, and that he was clearly on the right path, just not fast enough. Gwen left the chefs with a very difficult decision, as they enjoyed his food. Chris said that he felt in his gut that Gwen was probably the best chef out of the four, but he still did not get any food on his plates.

Chopped: Chef Gwen was chopped. The judges acknowledged that he was a very talented chef, but the name of the game is to do it on time and he failed to do so.


Ingredients: Rainbow Chard, Papaya, Granola, Parsnips, Calamari

Chef Francesco: Stuffed Calamari with Grilled PapayaEdit

Franceso's Stuffed Calamari
Francesco made calamari stuffed with granola and peppers, with grilled papaya on the side. Aarón liked the presentation on the dish and enjoyed the stuffing, but he did find that the calamari was undercooked. Both he and Chris felt that he made the best use of the granola, and Chris felt he was the only chef to embrace the granola. Chris enjoyed that he grilled the papaya. Alex noticed that he left the skin on the papaya, which was incredibly bitter and borderline inedible.

Chef Mina: Seared Calamari with Sautéed Rainbow Chard and Papaya Smoothie with GranolaEdit

Mina's Seared Calamari
Mina's Papaya Smoothie
Mina prepared flash-seared calamari with sautéed rainbow chard and caramelized parsnips, and a papaya smoothie with granola and mint on the side. Alex enjoyed how well she cooked the calamari. However, the judges were unsatisfied with the use of the smoothie, which they felt was a cop-out. Chris felt that she created two dishes instead of one, and both were delicious, but they didn't work together.

Chef David: Granola Spiced Calamari with Orange Papaya SoupEdit

David's Calamari and Soup
David made an orange papaya soup with bacon wilted rainbow chard and a granola spiced stuffed calamari. His original plan was to use granola as a breading, but most of it disintegrated in the pot. Chris found the soup very flavorful, but would liked a bit more texture in the dish. Aarón felt that the rainbow chard dominated the parsnip and he did not get that in the dish. Alex liked the rainbow chard and found it perfectly cooked. Looking at how he prepared the dish, the judges noted that he was directly responsible for the lack of the crust on his calamari.

Chopped: Chef Francesco was chopped. The reason given by Alex was that due to the technical flaws in his dishes, mainly his undercooked squid and his overall underuse of seasoning.


Ingredients: Plain Donuts, Smoked Gouda, White Chocolate Chips, Dried Apricots

Chef David: Apricot and Smoked Gouda FritterEdit

David's Fritter
David made an apricot and smoked gouda fritter, with a white chocolate ganache and strawberry jam. Aarón liked how he used the apricot as a fritter, but noted that the fritter was not airy or fluffy like a fritter should be. This was because there were only two eggs left in the fridge, and David had given one to Mina. Chris found the idea of a fritter very creative. Alex was a little unsatisfied that he just put the strawberry jam on the dish, instead of making it his own like all the other ingredients, but felt it was the better dessert out of the two.

Chef Mina: French Toast Donut with Orange Apricot SauceEdit

Mina's French Toast Donut
Mina made french toast donuts with white chocolate, gouda, and an orange apricot sauce. Aarón liked the combination of the apricot and the orange as well as her integration of the gouda. He found it to be well-balanced, which both Alex and Chris disagreed with. Alex found the donut a little gummy and that the cheese on top was a little rubbery. Chris found that it was too sweet and had too much apricot.

Chopped: Chef David was chopped. This was the toughest decision the judges had yet, but in the end, Mina beat him by a centimeter.


  • Gwen is the first chef not to serve anything on his plate. He later returned for a Chopped Redemption event.
Chopped Season 1
Season 2 >>
#01 Octopus, Duck, Animal Crackers#08 Coconut, Calamari, Donuts
#02 Tofu, Blueberries, Oysters#09 Mac & Cheese, Cola, Bacon
#03 Avocado, Tahini, Bran Flakes#10 String Cheese, Jicama, Gingersnaps
#04 Banana, Collard Greens, Grits#11 Jumbo Shrimp, Pepperoncini, Cereal
#05 Yucca, Watermelon, Tortillas#12 Chocolate, Mussels and Figs
#06 Canned Peaches, Rice Cakes, Beets#13 Strawberries, Turkey and Gummi Bears
#07 Quail, Arctic Char, Beer