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Feb 11, 2009 05:59 AM

Iron Chef Lite?

While surfing last night happened to catch bits of an FN show called Chopped. Four chefs battling through three elimination rounds, with baskets of mystery ingredients.
App/first course round, entree, dessert. After each round a contestant/chef was "chopped"/eliminated.
Didn't watch from beginning to end , but tuned back in once and awhile out of morbid curiousity....akin to watching an accident unfold before one of the chefs dropping a piece of beef shoulder he was pounding on to flatten/ flew off the cutting board onto the set's floor......he blithely proceeds to pick up the errant piece and tosses it back onto the cutting full view of the panel of "expert" judges.....priceless.
Later I caught a soundbite of one of the judges asking if "this was the piece that hit the floor"?
So many more wonderful moments.......just wondering why ,or where they would find the contestants, and for that matter the judges.....I understand about exposure etc. etc, but not really sure what they're going for here........I found it more laughable than anything else.......I don't really watch the network much anymore, and was wondering if I'm missing something about this it as tongue in cheek as I think it is.......or is it a woeful offering to fill a time slot?

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  1. I've tried watching it a few times now.. it's really pretty mediocre of a show. I find the pace "off". The camerawork/directing seems amateur (the constant scowl of one of the judges borders on parody) and the editing seems to often lose the continuity and always loses the momentum. The quality of the judges is nothing to write home about.. and the demands of the contestants are ludicrous: giving them 30 minutes to prep and cook an entree/appetizer/dessert each with an assortment of mandatory disparate ingredients (like watermelon, sardines, ancho chiles, and who knows what else).

    2 Replies
    1. re: karmalaw

      Cook a beef shoulder within 30 minute.......I wasn't tuned in for 2 of the three during the entree portion, but it was great theatre watching Ed pound the hell out of the meat with the back of a saute pan......pieces flying everywhere......."loss of momentum" is spot on.......this made it easy to tune in and out.
      It's as if someone was sitting around saying what kind of ingredients can we throw at these guys to increase the fun factor......the apparent seriousness of the judging panel was beautiful.....

      1. re: Saddleoflamb

        With that show, more than any other, I find myself thinking about what I would prepare given those ingredients. For example on the episode with grits in the dessert basket, an Italian style polenta pudding with fruit came to mind.

        Despite the fact that she got chopped over it, I liked the fried egg on top of the beef presentation. They critized the dish for not being integrated, but huevos montados (egg on steak) ties in nicely with yuca. Maybe she would have done better if she had made 'yuca fries'.

        Last night I kept flipping back and forth between the Chopped competition, and the Bizarre Foods aphrodisiac special.

    2. Last night's episode of Chopped was actually a great one. If you don't know, they had really stepped up the ability level for that show. Ed Witt is a household name if you read the NY Times. He was included in an article about Tom Colicchio's Tuesday Dinner with Tom by Frank Bruni. Bloomingdale Road opened to much hype, but it seems that Witt never stays in one place very long. Chef Josh (his last name escapes) is an executive chef in one of Gordon Ramsey's restaurants (I believe his best one). The judges are usually very recognizable on all the shows.

      Is it done with a little campiness? Of course, but was there, or is there, anything campier than Iron Chef or Iron Chef America?

      I think the best part of this show is it's fun to play along and try and think of how you would do something. We've all been at home, opened the fridge and pantry and went to town making a quick "what the heck" meal. These guys are just doing it with slightly more odd ingredient pairings.

      And it's not a throw-in show. The ratings are through the roof and it's been set for another season and they doubled the amount of episodes.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jhopp217

        If chef Josh was the one who won the show then it was well deserved.........I agree whole heartedly with regards to the "what would I do" factor....I'll have to watch an entire show, because I hope they preface it with a decent bio of the contestants.........all I could glean from the parts I watched were .....classic chef, bohemian chef, surfer dude, and radical/cutting edge disrespect intended.......there appears to be potential, and hope the show will develop......karmalaw eloquently covered many areas of opportunity be both charitable and PC.

        1. re: jhopp217

          jhopp, I agree, this was by far the best episode. The caliber of the chefs was way better than in the past, I think they've gotten better every week. The food was much more interesting, there was none of the deer in the headlights attitude from the chefs when they opened their baskets, they just got to work. I though Ed Witt's dishes were the most intriguing, of course he made some missteps along the way, but his beef dish was way more interesting than the winners' entree. I still fast forward through all the mock silliness with Ted Allen, but hopefully they'll continue improving.

        2. I've seen a couple of episodes and like the concept. I think it's interesting seeing the different choices the chefs make with the limited ingredients, but I have to say not much of the food I've seen produced looked very appetizing.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Chimayo Joe

            Sorry, they lost me when the judges did not "chop" the dude who picked the meat up off the floor and w/o even rinsing it, put it back into play. WTF! Are the judges trying to tell us this is what happens all the time in resto kitchens? Did the dirt on the meat add so much to the flavor? I was gobsmacked!

            1. re: annabana

              Yeah, but that inevitably was the deciding factor. The judges all seeme dto favor Ed's flavors, but he had too many issues during the competition.

              His reasoning wasn't terrible, but he should have washed it off. I guess in the ehat of battle, he didn't use proper judgement. In the section of the show where he dropped the meat, he advanced because the female contestant (I forget her name) made a mish-mosh of ingredients and the judges said "the two best aspects of her dish weren't in the basket."

              1. re: jhopp217

                Having worked back of the house, at a variety of stations, it gives me pause for concern when a chef drops something on any floor and tosses it back into the the heat of this battle before these judges does not compare to a real life "bum rush" in a fast paced, proffessional kitchen......advancing because someone else was inept doesn't make for a strong qualification for me........I'll have to give this show more of a chance before indicting it further.........
                The guy who inevitably won was by far the most professional of the bunch, not necessarily the most inspired.............his skills/basics/training where superior.

                1. re: Saddleoflamb

                  And as I joked with someone last night. He works for Gordon Ramsey. His job was most likely on the line!

          2. So far it's interesting enough, even though I find Ted Allen a bit annoying. Nor am I a big fan of cooking-as-competition shows (other than ICA of course).

            My quarrel with the whole thing is that the judges are supposedly evaluating the dishes themselves, but frequently comment on things they saw in the kitchen during cooking or how the chefs behaved. Come on! There's no points given for "plays well with others", and I think it's the end result that counts.

            At any rate, 'Chopped' is better than 'Food Detectives', and will do until the new season of ICA begins.