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How about a 'Chopped' episode where the tables are turned?

  • c

After watching a few seasons of "celebrity chefs" judging the contestants - and sometimes a bit overblown with their comments - I'd personally love to see a show where the judges have to be the contestants.

Imagine any one of them - Amanda Freitag, Scott Conant, Marc Murphy, Geoffrey Zakarian, Chris Santos, Jody Williams, and even Aaron Sanchez and Alexandra Guarnaschelli - having to throw together awesome dishes from the worst, most challenging ingredient combinations the show has ever hit contestants with...

Who would judge them? Losers, winners, other tv chefs?

Whaddya think?

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  1. I'd love to see that. Those Chopped judges are downright rude and obnoxious at times.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mucho gordo

      As much as I've liked the episodes I've seen...I can't believe how rude they get sometimes. I guess that's what makes good TV and ratings.

      1. re: melpy

        I remember reading somewhere that the producers have them sneer and make these awful comments about the food. So I probably wouldn't blame them too much. I used to think Alexandra G was such a bitch until I read that blurb.

        Don't these judges realize that this type of exposure can be construed as negative by the public? I guess any publicity is good.

        1. re: melpy

          This is heavily edited TV, not reality.

      2. As long as Alexandra Gaurnaschelli loses, I'd watch!

        1. How about some of those nice Iron Chef judges who know nothing about food (according to opinions in other threads!), but are impressed by pretty plates?

          1. Great idea, let's pitch it to FoodTV :-)

            I actually think the chef judges would fare pretty well with the ingredients. It's the clock that' the killer. How many of them are actually working a line in their restaurant on a routine basis so their speed and moves are rote and flow like second nature. I'm guessing probably not many.

            1 Reply
            1. re: DiningDiva

              Yeah, it really isn't as difficult as it sounds, esp. with all those pantry items. Like you said, the biggest hurdle is the clock.

            2. well it's not Chopped, but...
              - Alex Guarnaschelli lost to Cat Cora on ICA
              - Geoffrey Zakarian lost to Morimoto on ICA
              - Amanda Freitag lost to Bobby Flay (by one point) on ICA; and was eliminated 6th on S2 of The Next Iron Chef
              - Aarón Sanchez battled Morimoto on ICA & it ended in a tie; and he was eliminated 6th on S1 of TNIC
              - Marc Murphy lost to Bobby Flay on ICA

              are we seeing a trend here?

              but yes, i agree it would be really interesting to see the judges compete...as long as Zakarian gets bhut jolokia peppers in one of his baskets, and Conant gets black pepper and raw onions in one of his ;)

              i do have to say, though, having eaten Scott Conant's food, IMO he's earned the right to be critical...my recent dinner at Scarpetta was one of the best restaurant meals i've ever had. and he absolutely cooked it himself - the manager gave me a tour of the kitchen, and there was Conant, crouched over the counter tending to all the food.

              4 Replies
              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                "are we seeing a trend here?" - yes, they did well enough on these 'screen tests' to be invited back to work on this show. You don't have to win every contest to be a good judge, or to perform well on TV. Aaron has been on FN since the Melting Pot days, and was a competitor himself on Chefs v City. Amanda comments on the Cook Channel programs (with nice things to say about the various restaurants and shops they feature).

                Think also about pay scales and other commitments. Do you think FN wants to pay Morimoto to be a regular judge on Chopped (along with the voice over)? Flay has plenty of other FN involvement.

                1. re: paulj

                  you took my comment much too seriously - obviously i should have followed it with a tongue-in-cheek emoticon.

                  the topic of the OP was about wanting to see the judges compete, and i provided examples of the ones who have competed on other shows in the past...i was just being a wise-ass when i made that comment about seeing a trend. i'm quite aware that success on a TV cooking competition has little to do with one's abilities in the real world, whether as a judge, restaurateur, or chef...and i'm usually one of the first to point out that in threads about Top Chef.

                  i can't speak for anyone else, but i've personally never questioned whether any of these judges belong there - i know about their careers, i've eaten in some of their restaurants (Conant, Sanchez & Murphy), and i respect them all as professionals.

                  i'm also not sure how pay scales & commitments or Flay & Morimoto as Chopped judges have anything to do with my statements...

                  anyway, this isn't all that complicated. the point is simply that given how harsh they can be when judging contestants' food, it would be interesting to see how they would handle being on the other side of things.

                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  You beat me to saying Scott would have to serve raw onions....

                  1. re: jeanmarieok

                    Late to the party here, but I'd like to see some fish and some cheese in Conant's basket, preferably Tilapia and Velveeta, along with those onions.

                3. Brilliant. I would pay big bucks to see how smug they stay when opening that basket of chitlins, anchovies and prunes.

                  1. Would be great. The chefs would not fair as well as you think. There is no time in chopped to show off your style.

                    1. would also love to see Kieren Gerhardt, Kerry Vincent and the other guy who judges those cake Challenge shows make a cake in 6-8 hours and judged for technical merit, artistic value etc. They can also be rude and overcritical.

                      1. I'd watch it just to be able to view GZ. He's very attractive. I didn't say his personality, just his appearance. SC is very cute too. Oh now about the flipping of Chopped, yep, I'd watch.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: iL Divo

                          if you think SC is cute on TV, you should see him in person, cooking in the kitchen of his restaurant wearing a black chef's coat and bandanna...i swear i got a little weak in the knees :)

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            HeeHeeHee. Kinda like the time in Oaxaca when I saw a VERY buff Rick Bayless without his shirt on :-D

                            1. re: DiningDiva

                              ha! i'm sure the effect was compounded by the fact that he had just cooked me a *fantastic* meal. pretty faces are a dime a dozen - particularly in this town - they have little impact on me. but make me swoon with your food *and* look hot while doing it, and then you've really got me ;)

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                Ghg, there's truly nothing in the world that makes a man look better than when he's clearly in his element, sweatin' over a hot stove. And I mean that. But it doesn't translate to me, unfortunately. When I'm in my element sweatin' over a stove, I look just EXACTLY like me, only sweaty. And I can't remove my shirt. And I look silly in bandanas, so I wear a metallic-thread striped skullcap, or a scarf printed with whisks and spoons.

                                1. re: mamachef

                                  but i have to believe that even though *we* think we're just a mess, there's something about it that appeals to at least some men. it's like at the gym - i'm always amazed when guys hit on me there because there's nothing pretty about how sweaty i get...but they do!

                                  speaking of what you wear in the kitchen, did you ever see the old thread about that? fun stuff:

                                  oh, and there was something about SC wearing black as opposed to white in the kitchen that really added to the appeal.

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    Ahahahahaha! I love this thread, so I revived it! "bout time, ya think?

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Yeah, you've hit the nail on the head. The last line I expedited was, down to a man, totally flirtatious. But I found out later that they called me the "redheaded terror." Which I kinda get. When you have to stand on a milk crate to reach the mise, you have to make it up with meanness.

                                      1. re: mamachef

                                        When you have to stand on a milk crate to reach the mise, you have to make it up with meanness.
                                        LOL! i can't believe i didn't see that before. i know what you mean though - back in my personal training days i had to be the hard-core ass-kicker to win over male skeptics...one of them dubbed me "Helga the Dominatrix." :)

                          2. In the early days of the Food Network, pros did compete on a weekly basis on Ready Set Cook, which also involved the cooks working with a basket of surprise, seemingly incompatible ingredients. In the mid-to-late 1990s, it was one of the most popular competitive shows on FN.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Dave Feldman

                              i remember that show - red tomatoes vs green peppers, right? IIRC, Sissy Biggers was the host, and i thought she was rather annoying, but i loved the premise.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                I thought the best host was the first one, Robin Young. I have no idea why she was replaced by Sissy. Later in the run, Sissy was replaced by Ainsley Harriott. The Alpha-Dog, Jim Leff and I were judges on an episode.

                                1. re: coney with everything

                                  My wife sometimes refers to my cooking as RSC. Look in the fridge pull out some ingredients and put together a nice meal with what ever was available.

                              2. I (rather embarrassingly) enjoy the show but sometimes hate the judges. Some of them seem nice and fair, but some of them (SC and GZ especially) seem completely unrealistic in what they expect and nasty in their comments. Can't remember which one it was who didn't like onions and counted that against one of the contestants. Um, if you don't like onions, how can you really judge a contest?

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: Parrotgal

                                  It's Scott Conant that doesn't like onions, and I believe its "raw" onions he doesn't like. And, yeah,he dings them pretty bad on the raw onion thing. I've often thought it was a little unfair too.

                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                    To be fair, the judges ought to make it clear beforehand what foods they won't eat or are allergic to.

                                    1. re: mucho gordo

                                      But you know, if you're thinking about being the show, you've probably watched it more than once or twice. If you've seen SC judge you should know he's got 2 hot buttons, raw onions and poorly cooked pasta.

                                      What we don't know is what kind of information the contestants are given when they're accepted to compete, or when they actually arrive to tape the show. I would hope they would be told of any allergies or food intolerances. Basically, I think they like the "SC hates raw onions" thing and know that at least 1 cheftestant will probably fall into that abyss.

                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                        If the chefs were smart, they would ask the judges beforehand if they had any allergies or dislikes.

                                        1. re: mucho gordo

                                          Not a bad idea, but I wonder if they even have that opportunity.

                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                            All they have to do is open their mouths before they open their baskets.

                                          2. re: mucho gordo

                                            If the contestants were smart they would watch some past episodes to see how the judging goes.

                                            We have no idea whether the contestants can speak to the judges before hand; I doubt it. While personal preferences can come into play, the serious criticisms have to do failing to meet 'industry wide' standards. A hygiene fault can be particularly fatal (e.g. cutting tortillas on the raw meat board). Under cooked or overcooked food, especially meat. They also criticize things which an average diner might dislike.

                                            SC has a particular dislike for the sharpness of raw onions; so do some diners. Rick Bayless often recommends rinsing raw onions to temper the sharpness, even in Mexican dishes which commonly use them.

                                            My impression is that the judging is, overall, fair. Sure there are close calls and debatable points, but I don't think we should feel sorry for contestants who get chopped.

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              I think it is incumbent upon the judges (patrons) to make their special preferences known so there can be no accidents. If the judge sees the chef preparing to use onion then he should say something. Judges are aware of 'industry wide standards'.

                                          3. re: DiningDiva

                                            What we don't know is what kind of information the contestants are given when they're accepted to compete, or when they actually arrive to tape the show. I would hope they would be told of any allergies or food intolerances.
                                            the chefs don't get any info about the ingredients beforehand, and there have been a couple of instances where a chef was allergic to one of the ingredients...but the reaction never progressed beyond swelling or redness in their hands from contact with the ingredient.

                                            i imagine that if any contestant has a potentially life-threatening allergy they notify the producers in advance and confirm that they won't have to work with that ingredient.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              It would be difficult to be a professional cook if you had a serious allergy to any common cooking ingredient.

                                    2. I do believe I saw an advertisement for just exactly this, airing 6 March this year. And none of the judges/contestants looked very happy in it.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: mamachef

                                        The name of the program is called 'chopped', not 'party time in the kitchen'! It's not surprising that a small selection of scenes from a heavily edited show would omit the smiles and hugs.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          Why whatever do you mean, paulj? Are you trying to tell me that "Chopped" isn't filmed in realtime? Are you saying that each episode, start-to-finish, doesn't represent the entire time they filmed? Heavily EDITED?
                                          Hah, my faith in mankind has just been shattered.
                                          ROFLMAO : )
                                          Paulj, I know it's edited for content and television q points. It probably wouldn't be much fun to watch if nobody had any problems, if there weren't personality quirks, etc. I was just sayin', what I saw was 4 VERY sweaty, discombobulated chefs; it wasn't about the editing.