High Hopes
Season 2, Episode 2
HH Chefs
Air date June 23, 2009
Winner John Lawson
Episode Guide
Salty Veggies & Heated Battles
Floundering Around
The judges have high hopes for this group of up-and-coming chefs, but there is some sloppy work in the Appetizer Round when the contestants must work with whole calamari. Then in the Entrée Round, the three remaining chefs have various degrees of success with bison meat. And in the last round, the two finalists make ambitious plans to create difficult ancho chili desserts within the 30-minute time limit.


  • John Lawson, Sous chef, Gordon Ramsay at The London, New York, NY
  • Michael Ferraro, Executive Chef, Delicatessen, New York, NY
  • David Kirschner, Sous chef, W Hotel, Hoboken, NJ
  • Nicole Puzio, Executive Chef, Ox Restaurant, Jersey City, NJ




Ingredients: Calamari, Brussel Sprouts, Asian Pears

John did Sautéed Squid with Black Pepper. John's flavors are very clean and the dish is fairly well-executed. The salad has too much black pepper, and Amanda found a squid eyeball on her dish.

Michael did Grilled Calamari Salad with Bacon. Michael's calamari isn't cleaned properly and full of cartilage. The judges are especially angry with Michael because he admitted to noticing the cartilage and ignoring it.

David did Crispy Squid Salad with Calamata Olives. The dish is overwhelmingly salty, resulting from a pantry overload. The Asian pear is pretty much nonexistent.

Nicole did Wilted Brussel Sprout Salad with Tempura Calamari. Nicole did not get calamari onto Marc's dish and only Scott got her vinaigrette. Although Amanda's calamari has some cartilage, the judges agree that had she finished her plates, the dish would have been the best of the round.

The judges find that the appetizers were very amateurish cooking at the best, but they are able to chop Chef Nicole for not finishing. Scott warns the three remaining chefs that they need to step up their game to move forward.


Ingredients: Bison, Dried Mango, Leeks, Belgian-style Ale

Michael made Roasted Sirloin of Bison with Arugula Salad. Michael's bison is the best cooked of the round, and the judges like his salad, although they aren't a fan of the red onions in it. His dish has no starch.

David did Roasted Bison with Ale & Dried Mango Gastrique. Once again, David uses a lot of ingredients from the pantry, but uses them far more effectively than he did in his appetizer. The bison is undercooked, and the judges are confused that he used soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce instead of vinegar in his gastrique.

John did Pot Roasted Sirloin of Bison with Ale-Braised Potatoes. The judges love his potatoes, and like the pub feel of his dish. Their complaint goes out to the bison, as John left a lot of fat on the pieces he served.

The judges feel that all three chefs definitely stepped it up from the appetizer. However, they are able to decide to chop Chef David, who did not cook the bison correctly, and the "gastrique" he made didn't have an acid in it.


Ingredients: Ancho Chilies, Semi-Sweet Chocolate, Black Plums

John did Caramelized Plums with Chocolate Chili Glaze and Roasted Almonds. The judges like his plums and how he stayed true to his style of cooking. Scott finds the chocolate and almonds overwhelming.

Michael made Plum Napoleon with Sweet Ricotta. The judges love the creativity of going after a genoise in 30 minutes for his napoleon base. Marc feels that the chocolate chili sauce should be better integrated instead of just off to the side. Scott disagrees, saying that it shows creativity.

The judges look at both meals, and decide to chop Chef Michael for the mistakes he made in his appetizer. John is made Chopped Champion.


  • The chefs for the episode. From left to right: Nicole, David, Michael, and John
  • John's Appetizer
  • Michael's Appetizer
  • David's Appetizer
  • Nicole's Appetizer
  • Michael's Entrée
  • David's Entrée
  • John's Entrée
  • John's Dessert
  • Michael's Dessert


  • John later returned for Chopped Champions.
  • This is the first instance of one of the judges telling all 3 remaining chefs that they need to step it up after the appetizer round.
  • This is the first episode where Scott Conant mentions his dislike of raw red onions.
Chopped Season 2
<< Season 1Season 3 >>
#01 Salty Veggies & Heated Battles#08 A Wish Upon a Starfruit
#02 High Hopes#09 Buckwheat Blunders and Twists of Fate
#03 Floundering Around#10 The Ultimate Face-Off
#04 Pride on the Plate#11 Best of the Best
#05 Pretty Please With a Pepper on Top#12 All Stars Showdown
#06 A Prickly Situation#13 Bring It!
#07 Pods, Grills and Sticky Fingers