Chopped is a game show (in essence) that airs on the Food Network. It debuted in January 2009 and has aired for 26 seasons. I don’t understand that math, but whatever. It just means there have been a lot of episodes. 339 in total (counting the ‘specials,’ what the fuck ever that is). To put it bluntly, Chopped is about 75% of Food Network’s material.
The premise of the show is this: four contestants who are often chefs from various aspects of the industry get together for three rounds of making a dish in a super short amount of time with random, unknown ingredients. At the end of each round the contestants present their dishes to a trio of judges who then spend 5 minutes telling them things like “I’m shocked to see that you’ve chosen the kale to be the star of the dish,” or “I think the sausage is very aggressive here.” The contestants are then sent away so that the judges can bicker and argue about what they liked and didn’t like about each dish. Then the contestants line up, and host Ted Allen holds an oversized pan lid over a dish for what I presume to be the equivalent of the entire commercial break then lifts it to reveal one of the contestant’s dishes, meaning they are “chopped,” and thus removed from the competition. The remaining chefs move onto the next round, rinse and repeat. The last man standing wins $10,000.
I love the fuck out of food shows, and I HARD love the fuck out of this show. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a quickly prepared and salty piece of shit. It’s the same premise I have with movies and games; I may love it, but that doesn’t make it actually good. And because of how much I love this show, I get livid if things don’t go the way I want. I’ve gone on one of my patented angry rants by myself in a hotel room yelling at Geoffrey Zakarian for criticizing stupid shit when that dish clearly did the best overall. Muffled screaming into my pillow commenced.
Let’s talk about the aforementioned host: Ted Allen, as well as a few of the judges.
Ted Allen: The Food Version of a Hipster Asshole
Allen is a writer and television personality. He’s the host of Chopped and some show called Queer Eye, as well as a litany of spin-offs and copycats. In Chopped, he mostly introduces the contestants, judges, food items, and then ultimately reveals who has been chopped and the eventual winner. He’s the musty, 40-year old glue that holds the show together. You could probably go ahead and replace the glue with some new, sturdier stuff, but it really isn’t worth it and might be costly. This glue does just fine. If I turned on the show one day and there was an octopus in a jar introducing the contestants, I might not even notice the difference. Welcome to your legacy Ted.
Judge Aarón Sánchez: Cool Dude Sánchez
Chef Sánchez is a chef and television personality. He co-owns restaurants in Baltimore and New Orleans, and is on all sorts of stuff on Food Network, Cooking Channel, and some other channels. He’s one of the few judges that I actually like. He is at times firm, but loves to tell contestants when they have done something excellent. Plus he totally looks like a guy that, if you found him in a nightclub in Vegas, he would invite you over to his table to sample some exquisite appetizers as well as a generous helping of cocaine and other hallucinogenic drugs. Next thing you know you’re in a private suite with many gorgeous women, the best food and drink imaginable, and you feel like the king of the world. Then you wake up the next morning in a destroyed hotel room with a dead hooker and start to freak out. But Sánchez walks over to you in the best-pressed, nicest, double breasted suit and the confident swagger of James Dean, puts a hand on your shoulder, looks you dead in the eye, smiles a wry smile, and says “don’t worry, it’s under control. Thank you for coming out, it was a lovely evening.” You then leave never to hear about the event again, forever wondering if that magical night actually happened, or if you merely had the greatest dream in history.
Judge Amanda Freitag: Uh, the Good One?
Chef Freitag works at New York’s Empire Diner and has performed on Iron Chef America and a few other Food Network shows. Though she can be a bit grating at times, she’s absolutely fucking adorable. Something about her stirs feelings deep within my body that I don’t quite understand. She tends to focus on the positives of the dish, but sometimes she busts out a negative that hits the contestant DEEP. I’m talking so deep they go backstage for the judges to discuss the dishes and then begin to review their life choices.
Judge Marc Murphy: Mr. I Watch 24 on Netflix
Chef Murphy has owned a handful of restaurants in the country and is very well known in Chopped for being halfway to an assbag. He’s not that bad, but he isn’t great. Something about his stupid face though. It’s so pointy and bird-like. He almost looks like he used to have a meth problem long ago in his youth, though most of the scarring is gone, but not all.
Judge Geoffrey Zakarian: MR. HATE
Zakarian is the absolute worst (well that’s not true, second worst as you’ll soon see). He is the most arrogant, hipster-glasses wearing, triple-popped collar fuck of a man. He is like if you dipped host Ted Allen into some home brewed beer and then left him in a fucking Hot Topic to stew for a few months he would come out holding a latte and ready to bitch about whether it’s really a succotash because you didn’t use enough lima beans. Eat a pickled dick Zakarian. And don’t enjoy it.
Judge Scott Conant: The Bro
The whole reason I decided to write this was to give shit to this asshole. Everything about him is just terrible. Just thinking about his stupid face is elevating my heart rate by 15 BPM. One time I was watching an episode and the contestant made some sort of pasta dish, but didn’t put salt in the pasta water. This is widely regarded as common practice, but as most food scientists will agree, it’s fairly irrelevant. Maybe it makes a slight difference but likely not enough to matter. It’s also a traditional Italian thing to do but not so much that it’s a major faux pas. More of merely an impasse. The entire time they were showing that contestant cook his dish fucking Conant was going on and on about the salt in the water. The rest of the judges were telling him to get the fuck over it and be an adult, but he kept on. When it came time for Conant the Assbarian to review the dish, before he even took a bite he asked the contestant if he salted the water, and when he said no he never does, Conant went FUCKING BALLS OUT CRAZY. He even had the gall to say “Have you even been to Italy? Because I have!!!” I think that contestant even made it to the finals but Conant continually brought up the salting of the water. I know the contestant didn’t win, and likely it was because of this dick throwing his shitfit. In fact, a quick internet search shows that apparently this even became a meme.
There are plenty of other things that I haven’t even had the chance to talk about with this show including the way they cut the promos for the contestants (they show their backgrounds and why they are trying to win the $10,000). They set them up where it’s pretty obvious who is going to win. The eventual winner’s promo will have shown how they selflessly devote their time to serving orphans of wars without legs (OOWWL), whereas the people who end up losing are all “bitch I be doin’ this for the money to buy drugs and fund ISIS. Go eat horsemeat and draw pictures of Jesus as something other than a white dude LOLOLO>LOLZZZZZ.”
My other favorite thing is the random assortment of ingredients the contestants are forced to create an edible dish with. The rounds are actually divided into the three courses of a meal, the first round is the appetizer, the second the entrée, the third dessert. So what will happen is Ted Allen will introduce the judges, the contestants, and then explain the rules. Then he tells the contestants to open their secret ingredient barrels and explains what they are to the television audience. Each contestant HAS to use every secret ingredient in their dish and can supplement them with the litany of other things in the shows cupboards.
I’ve made a handy list of secret ingredients from the show for you to go over:
- Penguin skin
- Ted Allen’s toenails
- Zebra loin
- Catfish whiskers
- Teeth flakes
- Ant poison
- Easy Cheese tm
- Isopropyl Alcohol (80%)
- A live duck
- Old floppy disks
- Extension cords
- Receipt paper
- Pygmy meat
- Slow coughs
- Candle wicks
- Partially hydrogenated soybean oil
- Tax farts
If I haven’t outlined exactly why you should be watching Chopped on Food Network, then let me leave you with this image: