Not every episode, but about once every other episode one of chefs will completely blow the judges away with one or more dishes.
On a few occasions, a contestant has managed to get past the appetizer round while completely forgetting to use one of the basket items. Can you imagine how good the food had to be to compensate for that?
In one case, a chef's dish was so good that the judges almost passed her to the next round despite her having only finished one out of four plates.
While she may have been chopped that episode, her dish was so good that she was invited to redeem herself on Chopped Redemption, faring much, much better than last time.
A female contestant slips in the kitchen during the second round, spilling a pan full of boiling hot water over her legs, getting some pretty serious burns. What does she do? She keeps going through not just the rest of the round, but all the way to the end, despite still being in pain. she even finished second in a very close match against Chef Lance of all people, who was so certain she did better than him, he promised her the prize money to travel to see her sick grandmother in France.
On the third episode of season 9, third in a new Champions tournament, the contestants are given a tough basket, and one decides to risk making a cake. She just manages to get it done properly and plate it. After tasting it, judge Alex Guarnaschelli declares it might be the best dessert she's ever had on that show. Considering all the episodes she's been a judge in since the very first season, that's saying something.
Not only that, but the opponent opted to make churros dusted with cinammon, cocoa powder, and instant coffee. And Alex Guarnachelli also declares that churro the best thing she ever tasted! For Alex to declare two desserts in the same round to be the best dessert she's ever had on Chopped, those two contestants had to have been really skilled.
Chef Natalia Machado, who won the episode she competed in (and made it to the dessert round in the first Chopped Champions tournament), goes on to compete in the show Sweet Genius, which has a similar premise to Chopped, but it focuses entirely on desserts. She proceeds to win that one as well.
Chef Jessica Mogardo, known for having achieved victory despite being very nervous to the point of almost crying and throwing up, also competes and wins in Sweet Genius, making her and Chef Natalia the only two chefs who've competed and won in both shows.
Ann Burrell won her episode of All-Stars while being blinded in one eye from hot oil. The pain actually got worse as the match went on, and she kept working through it.
Jun Tanaka. In the third episode of the Chopped Champions tournament, he was preparing frog legs (a required ingredient) when he trips and dropped most of the legs on the floor. He had enough spare frog legs to give a tasting portion to the judges. Mind you, this is the entree round and this is Chopped Champions. He recovered very nicely by making the best frog legs made on the show ever. It was so good that he basically make the other chefs look like they made slightly average dishes. He won the episode becase of it.
Even better: he's a Chopped Grand Champion.
Giuseppe Gentile, who immigrated from Italy to the United States in hopes of a better life. He opened a humble pizza restaurant with no formal education in cooking. He went on to win in his debut episode with a perfect appetizer and dessert, and his entrée's only flaw was one slightly undercooked ingredient he was not entirely familiar with.