What to Know About the Desperate Seeking Sous Chef in Chopped Final 4

The Chopped: Desperately Seeking Sous Chef tournament has identified its final four. Get to know the innovative chefs who will be competing.

The classic Food Network show Chopped has identified the four accomplished chefs who will compete in the final of its Desperately looking for sous chef season, and they have impressive careers. This season of Chopped follows the traditional format of four chefs competing over three rounds (starter, starter and dessert), using ingredients from mystery baskets. However, it has an unprecedented distinction: whoever wins the contest will not only become a Chopped champion, but will earn a job as sous chef for one of the judges, legendary chefs Maneet Chauhan, Scott Conant and Chris Santos.


Hosted by Ted Allen, Chopped debuted in 2009 and has been a Food Network staple ever since. Chopped episodes are aired individually or as part of tournaments. The 16 elite leaders of the Chopped: desperately looking for a sous chef season competed in a five-game tournament. In each of the first four episodes, a winner has emerged, and these four chefs will compete to be crowned. Chopped champion. This winner will start his job as a sous chef for one of the judges.

Related: Chopped: Meet the ‘Desperately Seeking Sous Chef’ Judges

This Chopped season was particularly difficult. In the regular season, competitors are judged solely on their food. However, on Desperately looking for sous chef, the judges also assess their personalities and cooking abilities, to determine if they want to offer them a job. The fourth Chopped the winners who will participate in the final on Food Network are Reuben Dhanawade (part 1), Mat Espiritu (part 2), Francisco “Paco” Moran (part 3) and Lauren Windham (part 4).

Ruben Dhanawade

Reuben is a sous chef who runs a dining room with a staff of over 30, which feeds over 2,000 people a day. According to his LinkedIn profile, Reuben is the deputy head of the University of Delaware at Aramark. Delaware Live shared that Reuben was born in India and came to the United States in 1996. He earned associate degrees in Culinary Arts and Food Service Management from Delaware Technical Community College. He said he was “pretty deeply rooted in the Delaware restaurant scene for a while now.” On ChoppedReuben shared that he was on a journey to rediscover his Indian roots and would most like to work with Food Network chef Maneet.

Matt Spirit

Mat Espiritu Chopped

Mat is the Sous Chef at Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica, California. Her parents were born in the Philippines, so her favorite type of food is Filipino cuisine. Mat shared that he worked with “countless Michelin-starred chefs.” and that he cooks with his heart. He said he would like to work with any of the Chopped chefs, but working for Chris would be “impressive” because he admires her for achieving so much success at such a young age. Mat also shared that working with Chris will give him the opportunity to open a new restaurant.

Francisco “Paco” Moran

Francisco Paco Moran chopped

Paco is the head chef of LA Cha Cha Chá. Originally from El Salvador, he studied at Le Cordon Bleu, then worked for Patina Group for 13 years. He has done everything from catering to fine dining. Paco revealed that he was competing for himself on Chopped, but also wanted to win the contest to set a good example for his children. In the round of desserts, Paco wanted to make a light and creamy Italian dessert that “would probably resonate with Scott,” so he decided to make a panna cotta with the ingredients from the basket, which he ended up turning into a mousse.

Lawrence Windham

Lauren is a chef at King + Duke in Atlanta, Georgia. She went to the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley. His first kitchen was Ad Hoc, one of Thomas Keller’s kitchens. Lauren said she was so ready to move forward in her career. She remarked that she would love to work with Maneet because she thinks what she has done with her career is so inspiring.

Chopped: desperately looking for a sous chef is one of the most exciting editions of the Food Network show because the stakes are so high. Receive a job from one of the Chopped Judges is one of the biggest prizes the show has ever offered. No matter who wins the overall championship, the judges will win an impressive sous chef at one of their restaurants. Reuben, Mat, Paco and Lauren are four of the best chefs who Chopped has never seen.

Next: How Chopped: The Next Generation Is Different From The Original Series

Chopped: desperately looking for a sous chef airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on Food Network.

Sources: Reuben Dhanawade/LinkedIn, Delaware Live

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