Chocolate, Mussels and Figs
Season 1, Episode 12
CMF Chefs
Air date March 31, 2009
Winner Gavin Mills
Episode Guide
Jumbo Shrimp, Pepperoncini, Cereal
Strawberries, Turkey and Gummi Bears
The chefs open their appetizer baskets to find bitter-sweet chocolate, figs and mussels. The contestants know that three of them will face the bitter disappointment of being "chopped," while only one can claim sweet victory.


  • Nigel Spence, Owner and Executive Chef, Ripe Kitchen and Bar, Mt. Vernon, NY
  • Gavin Mills, Executive Chef, Broadway East, New York, NY
  • Michael Selicious, Executive Chef, Wickets Inn, Onset, MA
  • Melissa Levy, Executive Chef, IBM, Newburgh, NY




Ingredients: Beef Tenderloin, Cucumbers, Asian Pears, Bittersweet Chocolate

Nigel's appetizer is Grilled Beef Tenderloin w/ Cucumber Salsa and Spicy Pear Sauce. Nigel's dish has very bold flavors which all work well together. Geoffrey finds it too spicy, although Aarón thinks that it is palate-stimulating and not a problem. Geoffrey has a string wrapped around his tenderloin.

Gavin made Beef Carpaccio with Chocolate Beurre Noisette. The presentation is nice and the judges like his format of a carpaccio. The judges don't taste the chocolate in the beurre noisette, and his dish is overall underseasoned.

Michael did Pan-Fried Beef w/ Salad and Chocolate Glazed Pears. Michael's dish has good basic flavors and the beef is treated well. The components don't come together, and the plate is cramped, somewhat similar to a trip to the buffet line.

Melissa did Seared Tenderloin w/ Caramelized Pears & Creamy Cucumber Salad. Melissa's spicy chocolate sauce is nice, and her tenderloin tastes like pure beef. Alex questions if the cucumber salad goes completely with the dish, and her dish needs more seasoning.

Looking at all four appetizers, the judges chop Chef Michael for his creation of what they consider three seperate dishes.


Ingredients: Mussels, Canned Tomatoes, Pita Bread, Celery Root

Nigel did Shellfish Pasta with Spicy Tomato Reduction. The judges love the flavors in his tomato reduction and his use of pasta as a vehicle for a warm hearty dish. Geoffrey complains that it is once again too spicy.

Gavin made Tomato and Mussel Ragout with Potato & Celery Root Hash. The judges are impressed with Gavin's improvement from the first course, creating a more integrated and sophisticated dish than his entrée. His portion is not an entrée.

Melissa made Steamed Mussels with White Bean and Celery Root Ragout. The judges like the soul of her dish and the idea of the white bean ragout, and the mussels are cooked perfectly. There are too many beans and not enough mussels, and the dish is a little too salty.

Before the dessert round advances, Chef Nigel is denied the opportunity to enter for having a dish that was too spicy.


Ingredients: Black Mission Figs, Slivered Almonds, Lemons

Gavin did Roasted Figs w/ Almond Brittle and Lemon Sabayon. The judges absolutely love the dish, with an ambitious and well made sabayon, a delicate touch with flavors, and skilled transformation.

Melissa made Pan-Roasted Figs with Almond Streusel. Her dish is something true to Melissa, with a homey feel and great depth of flavors.

The judges are torn between the two finalists, both of whom they would be happy having working at their restaurants. In the end, they are able to chop Chef Melissa simply because Gavin went far above and beyond what was needed to win. Gavin is made Chopped Champion.


  • The chefs for the episode. From left to right: Melissa, Michael, Gavin, and Nigel
  • Nigel's Appetizer
  • Gavin's Appetizer
  • Michael's Appetizer
  • Melissa's Appetizer
  • Nigel's Entrée
  • Gavin's Entrée
  • Melissa's Entrée
  • Gavin's Dessert
  • Melissa's Dessert


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