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Chopped on FN Tonight

New show called Chopped, sort of an Iron Chef format, Ted Allen is the host. 3 ingredients, 3 courses, one chef gets cut after each course, winning chef gets 10 grand. Supposed to be "up-and-coming" chefs. Tonights ingredients are octopus, duck and animal crackers.
10:00 tonight on the FN with lots of repeats all week. Fingers crossed it's something worth watching!

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  1. I liked Ted Allen in the makeover show, as well as on Iron Chef. He was a shoo-in for the disclaimer-type show which cannibalised AB's show, but he's certainly watchable and Iron Chef would be better if they had unusual requirements such as including dessert again.

    1. I intend to watch it, at least once. However, I think Ted Allen is the weakest link here. He's a total dweeb without any food cred. whatsoever.

      1. okay i literally have only seen about 4 minutes since i missed the first 10 but it seems to have potential. i mean i like top chef and have DEFINITELY seen way worse there - especially this season.

        1. Watched this tonight and I figure with 1-2 more episodes I'll be able to decide if this hour is worth it. Some quick notes:

          - The "surprise" ingredients aren't as out there as I thought...they do seem to have compatability that any competant chef should be able to combine into a dish.
          - I really like how the judges are reputable chefs and not a panel of celebrity or "food fringe" hacks.
          - Ted Allen as an MC/host was perfectly fine.
          - Chef Perry looked familiar and I swear he was in this season's Top Chef "Craft New York" episode. He was one of the chefs that didn't make the cut and he got a few seconds of airtime where he utters the words "it's crap!" with a smug look on his face like a spoiled child. His behavior on Chopped makes me believe it's definitely the same person.
          - I saw enough to watch next week.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Bunson

            Agree with most of what you said. I'll definitely keep watching for now. I thought that while Ted Allen was fine, he was a little stiff, which made the format a little hokey, but I'll chalk that up to it being the pilot episode and hopefully it will get smoother.

            Loved the judges, they made the show more meaningful.

            I thought that the talent level of these "up-and-coming" chefs was pretty lame. They definitely played up their lack of ability in the editing, which made the food coming out seem better since I was expecting more disastrous results. But 3 out of 4 "chefs" have never cooked octopus before? And what was up with the vegan chef? I am so sick of chefs coming on competition shows and then wrinkling their noses and feigning disgust over ingredients. Did she think it was a vegan competition?? It reminded me of Nipa on the Next FN Star when she got the whole fish.

            There was a real lack of creativity in the dishes (except for the crepes). Granted they didn't have much time, but they didn't make very good use of the pantry.

            I don't recall Chef Perry from the Top Chef episode...they were all spoiled disgruntled wannabees!

            1. re: sibeats

              well i think it depends on what type of chef you are. lets be honest - if you are young (like at least the one girl was) some ingredients are pricey to play around with so they probably aren't where you start. and if you are a sous chef you work MANY hours of the day and do lots of cooking but perhaps not tons of creating so there very well may be items you haven't worked with. i don't know. it makes sense to me.
              i thought that some of the dishes were nice - i mean remember a 1/2 hour to think and make and plate with that much pressure is NOT a lot of time. it's easy to think you could do a lot better until you're there.
              the only thing that did throw me a bit was that even i, who love to eat but am a mediocre cook at best, thought the ingredients went together - hadn't used them all but knew they went together - so i was shocked to see a few of them stumped. but i actually thought it was kind of fun. not so much even to see how amazing they were (although i really thought the crepes were pretty genius) but to try and imagine my own ideas which was cool.

              1. re: AMFM

                Yes, but if you are a chef working in the industry, you should be able to adapt to new ingredients. It just surprised me that they seemed so clueless. It was also the vegan chefs attitude that bothered me. She seemed shocked that she was going to have to use ingredients that weren't to her liking (meaning vegan). I just thought that was a bit strange for someone coming on a mystery basket competition.
                Beyond that, I do realize they only had a 1/2 hour, and I didn't say I could do better, but these are working chefs who should be able to think a little quicker on their feet. As you said, you were also shocked that they were stumped at the ingredients. I'm not trashing the chefs, I just thought that there should have been a little more creativity in their dishes.

                1. re: sibeats

                  i agree about the adapting part - and i think they specifically picked less adaptable chefs (pastry, vegan) which i find odd. but in rereading i just realized that i think your last line (which was what threw me a bit) was in regards to top chef, not to them. i agree they weren't the most creative but i think i defended because i hadn't seen them as "spoiled, disgruntled wannabes" but when i reread it as the top chef folks - those i agree with! :)

                  1. re: AMFM

                    Yes, the last line was in response to someone who thought Perry was on Top Chef...the chefs who didn't make the cut and critiqued those that did.
                    And you are right, they probably did intentionally pick chefs that might have more trouble adapting...more drama!!

          2. Sorry, but I disagree with most posters. The judges seemed very uncomfortable, the editing of their comments bad, and Ted Allen tries so hard to be dramatic and is a wooden stick as host. First show jitters I hope. BTW, lose the stupid shots of the contestants awaiting judgement.

            1 Reply
            1. re: KHT

              I agree that Ted Allen needs to relax, but I always give a show a few episodes to iron out those issues. As for the judges, I didn't think they seemed uncomfortable at all. I've seen Alex and Aaron many times on other shows and thought they were pretty much like they usually are. Never heard of or seen the other judge though, and he was my least favorite.
              As with all these shows, less drama, more cooking!!

            2. Seems to me that this show alleviates the overabundance of drama seen on Top Chef, Next Food Network Star, etc. You don't get to know the contestant very well and thus don't have to hear their sob stories. They aren't holed up in a loft together for weeks, and everything is done in one day. I like it.

              1. My opinion on the whole thing?


                I don't know the numbers that FN is generally pulling in, so I have no sense as to whether or not their current marketing strategy (Guy Fieri in a horrible shirt trying to invent new catchphrases) is working, but I DO know that they are still failing when it comes to coming up with a show that trumps Top Chef.

                Don't get me wrong: I enjoy watching Top Chef, but it's not the pinnacle of food-contest shows. Its obsession with drama over food is what marginalizes it in my opinion.

                BUT it's still head and shoulders above the iron chef competition last year and "chopped," the new attempt to make use of Ted Allen. FN reminds me somewhat of a younger sibling who wants to cash in on whatever seems to be working with other networks (which is strange, considering that it was once the innovator).

                Bourdain's travel show is doing well after all on another network? Cool- let's try to incorporate more world travel!

                That "Dirty Jobs" thing is a phenom elsewhere? OK, we've got that weirdo Adam from the last Food Network star show, let's have him try out "dirty jobs" in the food world?

                They clearly saw that Ted Allen was popular on TC and has a lot of charisma. But they don't know what to do with him, and it's sad. He was stiff and uncomfortable here; he's just not made to be the tough guy judge. He's fun and friendly on Iron Chef. Why couldn't they have relaxed the atmosphere on Chopped so that it made better use of their host?

                But beyond misuse of Ted, I think the editing and the way that the show is formatted is really to blame for some of its larger problems. 5 minutes in I was shocked to realize the actual length of the show: the editing was so frenetic that I thought they were trying to cram everything in as quickly as possible. I think they wanted to convey the anxiety that the chefs were feeling, but it just turned me off as a viewer.

                Honestly, I fell asleep before I even saw the end. I just wasn't interested. I will watch again next week (I bitch and moan about next FN star but still watch it), but I still think it's absolutely abysmal. They need to figure out what they're doing. It's not like they haven't a clue how to handle a challenge show: the editing on most of their 'challenge' episodes (BBQ challenges, cake challenges, etc) is much more relaxed. What's the big deal here? Even the editing on the Iron Chef competition last year was much better comparatively.

                1. Unlike most of the posts here so far, I don't think it was that great. Ted Allen was great in Top Chef. But here he was way too dry and matter-of-fact. The great thing about Allen was how he critiqued dishes -- he was clever and witty (without using those awful cliches like Toby Young) while still being nice and respectful to the contestants. His function here was just a host, and I think he makes a better judge.

                  The ingredients were not too difficult. All of them went together. I thought it was going to be something like the 1st episode of Season 2 of Top Chef where they had to put together a dish using things that really were more of a mish-mash. I was waiting for an unconventional ingredient for the dessert course but just got prunes, cream cheese and animal crackers. The dishes that came out of the contestants were pretty straightforward (with the exception of the chocolate duck crepe).

                  When I watch a show like Chopped, I'm looking to be entertained. This isn't a cooking show where I'm looking for instruction. I've got to say it was a bit of a snooze. It was way too straightforward. This format will get old after a while -- geez you've got people complaining about Top Chef Season 5 even though they try to change it up every week. While Iron Chef has followed the same format for years, the contestants are head and shoulders above these B level contestants and can come up with things that are a lot more creative and interesting. And I preferred the Japanese Iron Chef over Iron Chef America -- not because I thought the Japanese chefs were better. It's because that dubbing cracked me up and I loved listening to those Japanese actresses make comments like, "Ohhhhh, he he he he. I feel so refreshed after eating this. He he he," all while covering their mouth.

                  Perhaps if these chefs were a different caliber, I wouldn't mind this format so much. But these chefs just aren't Iron Chef material so I need some drama to keep me occupied -- no, not Marcel/Ilan type of drama, but please give me something. I'm hoping it gets better.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    i'm with miss needle on this.

                    chopped is derivative and completely lacking in the budget, talent, tension and drama that made top chef and iron chef popular. ted allen can be a charming guy but you would never know it based on the premier.

                    maybe chopped will improve but i'm not holding my breath (alton brown's sail boat follow-up to to his motorcycle gig bombed miserably) i think this is where food network runs out of mirrors.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      by the way i think that you are overstating that we thought it was "great"!

                      1. re: AMFM

                        Yeah, I keep reading everyone's posts that start with "I have to disagree with most of the posts" and then go on to say why they disliked the show. I went back and read the posts and there weren't really any singing the praises of the show. Most of the posts seemed to be mostly negative, but we'll reserve judgement until we see a few more episodes. Yes, I did say I "loved the judges", but I meant who they were, that they actually had real chefs as judges, and not some bizarro "personalities".
                        In any case, I think Miss Needle's final paragraph summed it up...if the "up-and-coming" chefs were of a different caliber, then it would forgive the hokiness of the show. It's like that Challenge show...it sounds good in the description, and then you realize the chefs are not really chefs and the food is pretty awful!

                        1. re: sibeats

                          hey now, I have to chime in (again, to feed my CH addiction). The Challenge shows, at least for the bakery items, are completely insane and fun to watch. I can't say much for the others, but the cakes are incredible, and *almost* made me rethink the cake I had for my wedding.

                          1. re: Caralien

                            Okay, I'll give you that since I have never watched the baking episodes, only the cooking episodes! I didn't mean to disparage all the Challenge shows, only the few that I've watched. I'm sure the cakes are amazing!

                      2. re: Miss Needle

                        I agree. I thought Ted Allen was acting like he does on the other crap show..Food Detectives. It is too contrived..didn't like it. What really bugged me was how the viewer would not have a clue who was going to be "chopped" based on the conversations the judges had (about each contestant beforehand). I didn't like the editing either.

                      3. I know the comparison to MTV has been written numerous times before, but this appears to be another example...

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Caralien

                          How so? Whether one likes Chopped, it's clearly about the food and people cooking food. It may not be a good show (I skimmed through it on TiVo, which I'll do probably next week and see if I'm still interested) but I don't see how it's completely away from food in the way MTV moved away from music (I presume that's the comparison).

                          1. re: ccbweb

                            When both started, they were 24/7 music or cooking instructions. Then competitions, themed trips, showcased events. FN is still food related most of the time (aside from their off-hour infomercials which have just about anything), and I hope it stays that way.

                            1. re: ccbweb

                              Watching a show devoted to how high a pizza can be tossed is related to food, but how is that really informative to someone who wants to learn cooking techniques?

                              1. re: Caralien

                                Oh, I agree that generally Food Network has changed a lot. I just think this show (Chopped) is actually far closer to what they were than most of the shows that have come on in recent years. They showed the basic techniques that the chefs used and the judges critiqued particular things about the dishes that a viewer can learn from. Again, not necessarily a good show, but I think defensible from both an entertainment and somewhat instructional point of view.

                                Personally, I think that part of the idea of the show may have been to not have really experienced chefs doing things that seemed totally unreachable for many in their home kitchens. Show someone who's still learning, who is using techniques or ingredients they haven't used before. There's something many home cooks can relate to in that. I may be completely inventing this.

                                1. re: ccbweb

                                  Actually, I think the show is more entertaining that 7//8ths of the other shows they show at night. I think Ted Allen was fine too. Alex needs to play it down a bit though...

                          2. Well, I liked it. The hour went by fast for me, and I was entertained. I was sure the pastry chef was going to win and was pretty surprised when she didn't. I like the 3-course format and that everything was resolved by the end of the show. Ted Allen might have been a bit stiff, but let's see how he does in future episodes. I would have liked to hear more from the judges. This isn't rocket science and it's not breaking any new ground, but for what it is, it's good enough to make me look forward to the next episode.

                            1. Honestly, I couldn't stay focused on it, and just kept changing the channel. So, perhaps I shouldn't review it, but as someone who used to be a real FN addict, I think that fact that I couldn't watch for more than 2 minutes with out changing the channel says a lot. I think it was just too long, and lacked any fun to grab my attention. I think the FN is in trouble, and that they should get back to their roots a little bit, to what made it a phenomena 10 years ago.

                              'Ready, Set, Cook" was a funny, enjoyable and, at times, educational show with 3 surprise ingredients for the chefs to work with. If I remember, it was only 30 mins - allowing the cooks exactly 20 mins to cook in order to allow for intro and judging time. Why do they keep complicating things, and trying to replicate the successes of other shows?
                              Part of the problem may be that the success of FN has actually led to a flood of food related shows and "celebrity chefs" that don't really deserve to be on tv and the market just can't take on any more. Could this mean that a "market correction" is on its way?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: centralpadiner

                                I had forgotten about 'Ready, Set, Cook". I really enjoyed that show. It'd be great if they brought it back

                                1. re: amykragan

                                  RSC was a great show--if they brought that back (Ted could MC) I'd watch it. I like the idea of "here's your stuff, cook it" instead of the faux surprises of Iron Chef.

                                2. re: centralpadiner

                                  Yes! I loved this show too! I keep hoping with the number of cooking competition shows they keep throwing at us they will revive Ready, Set, Cook.

                                3. Just saw the show -- TIVOed it. Sad show. Ted Allen seemed uncomfortable and out of place; the chef contestants nice but clueless and not overly talented; and the judges out of place. It seems like something was intended, but not really achieved.

                                  I'll probably watch it again to see if it develops, but for now one word: YAWN.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: chicgail

                                    I think Ted's two stints now as a host on FN shows indicate he is better as a judge or critic lobbing in commentary than playing the host. Can't say exactly why this is so, but it's just something in his personality.

                                    1. re: rjka

                                      ted is a good commentator. that's his strength. he's not so good as a host or master of ceremony where he has no forum to air his opinions. chopped is not a good fit for him.

                                      1. re: rjka

                                        ITA, he is very stiff in the prescripted roles.

                                    2. Who cares about Ted? I saw the latest show and, while I cannot taste the food, it was clear that Chris (?) was the winner. Pippi's food was scattered, incoherent and looked awful. His was very intelligent, even when he had disasters. They asked him about a dish he never promised, then held it against him that it failed.

                                      I like this format because it ends in an hour. For the money they get for a show like this, ten K is cheap.

                                      1. FWIW, I thought last night's epsiode was a little better than last week's. It is still not great, but I like seeing people actually cooking - without all the drama. It is not Top Chef, but not as horrendous as some shows on these days.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: elfcook

                                          I agree, it was better than the first week. I thought the chefs were a little more talented, there were more ingredients in the basket that they had to use and the food seemed better.

                                          Ted Allen seemed even stiffer than the first week...it's almost like he's trying to emulate the chairman on ICA with his forced formality. It works for the chairman because it's a "goof"...everyone knows he is putting on an act. Ted just comes off like a dork.

                                          I thought the judges' input was good, better than last week, more in-depth analysis. I hate the over-doing of the dramatics when the chefs come up to the judges table.

                                          I'll keep watching because I'm stubborn, hopefully they'll continue to work out some kinks or get a different host!

                                          1. re: sibeats

                                            i only saw dessert so i cant totally judge but i agree ted seemed even more stilted. but there were some interesting things coming out of the kitchen. and i like the judges. maybe worth watching for that.... at least a FEW more times.

                                        2. I do think this week had a little more talent on the show. Anyone know the new male judge this week? I know I know who he is but can't put my finger on it!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: cookkare

                                            It was the same 3 judges from the 1st week....Alexandra Guarnaschelli, Aaron Sanchez and Mark Murphy.

                                          2. I watched an episode and though the contestants are professionals and there doesn't seem to be a final championship, in every other respect this is BBC's "MasterChef" re-packaged without the heart that program had.

                                            I love Ted Allen. I just wish he could relax a little.

                                            1. (in the office of FN)

                                              suit 1: well people like iron chef, so we need to isolate what people like about it, and make another show that hits all those points, but doesn't seem like the same show to the marks

                                              suit 2: ok - mystery ingredients, judging table, cooking competition, time limits, and a FN network celeb to host....

                                              suit 1: I've got it.......

                                              1. I'm so bummed this show is (I am assuming) the reason we don't get Ted Allen on Top Chef anymore.

                                                And I agree, Ted Allen's demeanor is super strange. He knows how to be comfortable in front of the camera; he's great when he's in the role of judge (Iron Chef, Top Chef). I even got to meet him in person and he was totally normal, pleasantly engaging. But for some reason he tanks when he is the lone host. (Food Detectives, Chopped). He's stiff, and almost cartoonish. So weird.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: charmedgirl

                                                  I think the FN producers have this misguided notion that Ted Allen is at his most appealing when they make him talk like a robotic dork. It's the same exact odd manner and inflection that he uses on Food Detective and it's clearly not the way the guy actually talks, based on lots of other time in front of the camera between Queer Eye, Top Chef and ICA judging.

                                                  I literally couldn't stay awake the first time I tried to watch an episode. I recorded it and sat through again, but I found myself sort of fidgeting. Annoying editing, claustrophobic set, so-so food. Ready Set Cook was a similar idea but a much more entertaining format.

                                                  I've loved Alex Guarnaschelli as a judge on ICA but it seems they're struggling to find the right format to deploy her too (her cooking show is terminally boring, which is a shame because she's not).

                                                2. So after watching the second episode of the show, I really have no desire to watch any more future episodes. Just nothing compelling there, it's like watching an amateur version of Iron Chef on a local cable channel. The lack of energy from the judges and the faux drama of who got chopped is like being at a wake and doesn't uplift the show.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Bunson

                                                    Watched two different episodes. I think it's a cheap, lame show.

                                                    My two cents:

                                                    Murphy and Sanchez are fine as judges, Alex is super snotty and humorless. She comes across as a wannabe star looking for a place to shine.

                                                    Ted Allen is likable but wasted in this dreck.

                                                    The half hour time constraint is getting pretty old pretty quickly. It severely limits what types of dishes you are going to see prepared. After two episodes I'm bored with the food.

                                                    The contestants themselves are the only fun part of the show - especially when the ones with the huge egos get "chopped." But that's not nearly enough to keep me engaged.

                                                    I pass on this one.

                                                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                      I think "Chopped" would have more credibility if you heard a karate-chop-styled "whoosh" every time Ted Allen moved his head or arms, ala Iron Chef America's "chairman".

                                                      Silly network. Hey FN execs -- you're losing it.


                                                  2. OK trying episode 3 and it really is pretty bad - but it is lucky there is pretty much NOTHING else i want to watch on right now, so i'll give it till the end of the episode - or till it gets even worse!

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: AMFM

                                                      chef chris is a total loser. i liked andre though.

                                                      1. re: AMFM

                                                        Oddly enough I like this show....and not sure why...LOL. I like Ted (though he needs to relax), Alex (though I think she is very nit picky giving the restraints of the competition) and Sanchez. I think with some tweaking it could be very good...I like the format of it.

                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                          this episode got enough better that i'd still give it another chance. but i think how annoying the one chef was just threw me this time.
                                                          i like trying to figure out what i would do with the ingredients - and was thrilled that my initial thought of reducing the grape jelly with red wine or red wine vinegar would have worked!
                                                          and i like the judges too. i just wish (like everything else on food network) it had less schtick. how often can ted allen use the word "chop". :)

                                                        2. re: AMFM

                                                          This is my favorite episode so far, and it's really b/c of the personality of the contestants. Chef Chris reminded me of Bobby Brady, lookwise. I loved his reaction to Sanchez's comment on double dipping (or was it Alex's?)--like, yeah, thanks for that piece of advice--not! Ted is as relaxed as I've seen him, and Andre's story--dare I say it--moved me.

                                                          1. re: gloriousfood

                                                            I was so glad to see that little prig Chris knocked off of his self made throne. Thinking someone "took" his mushrooms, double dipping, and then taunting Andre at the end? What a brat! Poor baby . . . yes, toss that apron in the trash as you walk out. Good going Andre!

                                                            BTW, on the website the judges are not the judges that are on the show . . . did something change since the first show, which I didn't see?

                                                            1. re: danhole

                                                              it's been the same 3 for all - but the foodnetwork site says it will be a rotating panel...

                                                              1. re: danhole

                                                                I thought Chris had some interesting dishes going, but yeah, that attitude...phew!