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Oct 28, 2010 01:49 PM

CHOPPED: unnecessary evil

The challenge faced by the chefs is daunting enough given their time constraints. Why include ingredients that can't possibly be cooked properly in the allotted time?

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  1. Because timed cook-offs have been done to death. This adds a spin on the creativity component. It's really a show about using the seemingly incompatible ingredients, not about the timed cooking.

    7 Replies
    1. re: ferret

      Even though the ingredients are used creatively, the chef can lose because there wasn't enough time to cook an ingredient properly.

      1. re: mucho gordo

        That's what makes it interesting. But without the surprise of "what's in the box?" it becomes yet another Top Chef quickfire or Iron Chef lite. And giving them an unlimited time to be creative with the mystery box takes it out of game-show territory, which is why we're there in the first place.

        1. re: ferret

          You know what would actually be a good twist for a show like Chopped (or other cooking competition show) is instead of surprise ingredients, give the chef surprise cooking equipment.

          E.g., you get a basket of goods, and up comes the curtains to reveal that you only have a microwave to prepare the dish. And the next round you only have grill and a toaster oven, etc.

          Now, that would be interesting and quite challenging.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            I like this idea, waffle iron, grilled cheese maker, electric grill, deep fryer, BBQ coals. Imagine octopus, donuts, american cheese and cauliflour with just a toaster oven!

            Some of the ingredients they are given are plain stupid - it feels as if they pull ingredient lists from a hat.

            1. re: smartie

              They've done that at least once, with griddles only.

            2. re: ipsedixit

              I swear that they screw with the chefs already. I mean,'s a cooking show and the ovens don't get hot? The burners can't heat oil?
              I know the equipment is unfamiliar to the contestants, but me thinks it makes for more drama when something breaks down.

            3. re: ferret

              I can hear the host saying: "Your dish was the most creative but it wasn't cooked enuf so you're chopped."

        2. Chopped seems to thrive on the judges acting disgusted and berating contestants for their failures. Giving the contestants no-win ingredients makes it easier to do this.

          It also leads to more (presumably entertaining) panic in the kitchen as well as sloppy-looking/sounding finished plates that allow armchair 'chefs' to imagine that they would have surely done better.

          3 Replies
            1. re: cowboyardee

              It's a game show and as such thrives on the audience identifying with the contestants. If we want to see well rehearsed kitchen chronography we can watch ICA and IC reruns.

              1. re: cowboyardee

                On target cowboy. They often like the dish but then have to come up with some derogatory comments. Like they could do better under the circumstances.

              2. I suspect the purpose of including ingredients that cannot be cooked in the allotted time is to check on how many contestants know how to use a pressure cooker. '-)

                1 Reply
                1. re: Caroline1

                  There's no way with the time constraints to use a pressure cooker. It takes several minutes alone just to to heat up and then decompress afterwards.

                2. It's TV. For all the use of "reality TV", the irony is that TV is nothing like reality. Competitve chef shows are more about on-camera culinary gymnastics than any practical real-world situation.

                  1. Talk about evil, did anyone catch the Chopped Halloween Special?
                    Ingredients like malted milk balls, gummy teeth, lambs heart, black chicken, fried grasshoppers...

                    Surprising the eventual winner forgot one of the surprise ingredients and his dessert was so spicy the judges couldn't eat it. The first chef was eliminated in the appetizer round (lamb heart) because he forgot to use the malted milk balls.