Chopped. Four chefs. 3 rounds. 3 mystery baskets. 3 judges. 30 minutes to prepare a dish using every ingredient in a mystery basket, plus anything else from a well-stocked pantry. One chef is eliminated after each round. The loser told: “you have been chopped”, by host Ted Allen.
Some of the mystery ingredients are pretty obscure – pickled daikon, beef jerky, quahogs, and vanilla wafers, or some wacky combination like that. Most of the time, a chef will say they’ve never cooked the thing before or have never heard of some ingredient. So they have to prepare something fit for expert judges, who are the world’s toughest and one could argue pickiest, even winiest critics. A chef could be chopped because he played it safe, or that the flavors didn’t quite pop – maybe the rice was too gooey or something. One chef was eliminated for using water instead of stock to prepare risotto. Others have been chopped for sloppy presentations and quite a few for simply failing to incorporate all the mystery ingredients.
And some chefs have been eliminated for sanitation slip ups. One budding chef nearly bled to death – it happens quite often that someone slices open a finger and resorts to a latex glove band-aid that turns completely red by the end of the round. Not exactly appetizing. One chef was nearly eliminated for continually using his hand to brush back an unruly cowlick that kept falling in his face. Another double dipped – that is he tasted the food with a spoon and then put the very spoon back in the mix. And the typical mistakes like overcooked beef and undercooked potatoes and indelicately plated food have proven to be many a chefs undoing.
The competition is fierce, the judging intense and the entertainment factor quite satisfying. One of the better cooking shows. Better than Iron Chef, Top Chef, MasterChef and Hell’s Kitchen, though admittedly less dramatic.
One in a series of reviews on TV shows of the reality variety.