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Chopped: those judges certainly cultivate the art of the stink-eye, to quash perceived sass-mouth competitors

Ever notice that the show's director and footage editors (or whoever) rely alot on 'reaction shots' of the judges giving silent and piercing 'stink-eyes' to each competitor, any time said competitors have the cajones to defend their choices on the plate. It's like watching parents in public wordlessly bending into submission any child that offers 'sass-mouth' explanations of why they didn't brush their teeth before bed time.

Are we as viewers actually supposed to buy into the notion that the judges, in their demi-god-like status, are beyond and above the human capacity to change their views if offered a reasonable explanation from the competitors. I understand it's about creating drama. But just once, I'd like to see that sour-puss Alex G. or Amanda F. say something normal and reasonable, along the lines of, say, "Hey, I never thought of that, you're right, I can totally see what went into your choice here".

Do those judges use their silently judgmental stink-eyes when conversing with a bank teller, their spouses, their parents? Please, creators of Chopped, deign to just once show a reasonable and deferential side to a judge or two. No sincere human viewer would ding a judge for being flexible enough to display (or even encourage) an empathic demeanor. In fairness, I do think that the one fellow - Marcus (?) - might be more than up to such a challenge. His stink-eye seems to be less toxic, nay, perhaps even tolerant of an opposing perspective...

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  1. +1 we comment every time we watch about how horrible the judges come across on this show.

    1 Reply
    1. re: thimes

      Especially Amanda F - now that Alex and Amanda have both competed on these shows i would think they could be a little more sympathetic.

    2. I don't watch Chopped all that much but can see where you're coming from. I *do* always get a kick out of the Top Chef judges and their overly solemn looks when the contestants come out for critique.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Joanie

        It's not the judges, people. They are very clearly directed by the show's producers. Like it or not, they are actors in a fairly well scripted improvised drama.

          1. re: coney with everything

            well the scripted produced take on the judges is a turn off and makes them look bad, which scripted or not will taint their public image accordingly. TV has consequences to personal image and perception.

            1. re: thimes


              Furthermore, the scripted show as broadcast sets the tone and creates viewer response. So, yes, as a viewer my response to the garbage, uh, show you put out is entirely justified by what you, the producer, choose to put out.

              1. re: thimes

                All true, but the judges and the participants and the host, after weighing the pros and the cons of visibility/name recognition vs. image/perception - all said, "yes" and signed the contract that gave the final cut approval to the production company/network.

        1. I can take only the occasional viewing of a Chopped episode. It's insufferable, *especially* when Alex Guarnaschelli is one of the judges. Indeed, that "Judgement From On High", masquerading as a panel of The Gods On Mount Olympus looking down on those foolish mortals, those ants, on Earth...seems to be the normal modus operandi - with the RARE exception. Mind you, those competitors are seldom novices either - not by any means.

          It was satisfying to many to see Alex G. run around in a tizzy and panicking early on in her challenges on TNIC this past season. ;-)

          1. Chris Santos is the worst and definitely gives Alex a run for the money on the negativity. When I see he is a judge I usually won't watch because of his extreme negativity. While the majority of the judges can say at least one good thing he usually takes offense to anything that isn't to his standard.

            I enjoy when Marcus, Maneet (?), Amanda, and Geoffrey are judging. They seem to be more constructively critical.

            2 Replies
            1. re: gmk1322

              Add Aaron Sanchez to the list of watchable judges. He's not usually that critical - unless a contestant totally mangles a Mexican/Latin ingredient - and is usually fairly constructive in what he says.

              But come on folks. These people know what they're getting into when they apply to be on the show. This is not a new show, and clearly, they've all seen it a time or two or they wouldn't think they've got the cajones to compete. They know going into this they're going to get criticized whether they turn out a good plate or a bad. Additionally, I'd hazard a guess that it takes, at minimum, 8-12 hours to film an episode and that they may interact with the judges during breaks in the filming, while the set is being staged, etc. The roommate of a friend of mine just competed on Cupcake Wars...from her I learned, what you see on TV is not necessarily what happens on the set or during filming.

              1. re: DiningDiva

                "But come on folks. These people know what they're getting into when they apply to be on the show."
                It's not that the chefs are tricked into being berated on national TV. The issue is just that it's unpleasant to watch. I find many of the judges obnoxious. And watching artisans get browbeaten for my [ostensible] edification as a viewer just strikes me as crass.

                (note: 'crass' is an odd word to describe a cooking show, but it seems to fit, at least in my mind. I don't know whether it's strange that all sorts of cursing and sex and whatnot doesn't bother me at all, but watching the more exploitative kinds of 'reality' shows makes me feel gross)

            2. I think alot of it is editing, too...while filming, there are a range of facial expressions captured, and with clever editing, it seems that the judges are giving the ole stinkeye to the competitors but we really don't know what actually transpired.
              You'll usually see something like this...
              AG: I loved your choice of garlic in the dish, but...can you explain why you used mascarpone cheese as part of your dressing?
              -cut to competitor-
              C: I did it because blah blah blah
              -cut to AG-
              AG: *ole stink eye while tasting"
              now, we don't know if what the sequence of events was, and we don't know what the uncut unedited version of this conversation really was. Just note the number of cuts to and from competitors and you really have to wonder about the sequencing of these shots.
              And as for the comments, well, they're pretty predictable
              Judge A "I liked your use of X" Judge B "there is complexity and depth to the flavors" Judge C "BUT I don't like blah blah blah.
              I think it just depends who gets to be Judge C for that bit, and it does rotate around.
              JMHO :)

              1. You've hit on one of the reasons I can't embrace Chopped as much as I have Top Chef - the browbeating and over-produced cuts of stern looks from the judges just annoys me. Especially because Chopped seems engineered to make decent cooks produce some pretty awful plates sometimes. In my view, the contestants are reasonably competent professionals and they're trying really hard.... so far more often than not it's unnecessary and just plain ugly to s*** all over them on national TV.

                It's also possible that even beyond the editing, the Chopped judges actually are just bitchier and more arrogant than the Top Chef judges. At least of few of the Chopped judges have come off as sort of arrogant on other shows as well.

                BTW I'm not saying I dislike honest criticism. My preference is for the Colicchio type judge - someone who has strong opinions, an enormous reservoir of knowledge, but more of a detached and objective standpoint. Padma, not quite as knowledgeable and slightly drunk, willing to call a spade a spade but at the same time not getting into a pissing contest with contestants, is also acceptable.

                10 Replies
                1. re: cowboyardee

                  there's always a BUT ....

                  considering the stupidity of some of the ingredients and the time in which the contestants have to cook in an unfamiliar kitchen they do a darned good job and really should barely be criticized.

                  1. re: smartie

                    and not chop anyone? Why don't they just pat everyone on the back, saying 'you are all good cooks' and split the 10,000 4 ways? It would save us all the trouble of watching to the end to find out who wins.

                    Sounds like a lot of posters need to rewatch the touchy-feelly lunch ladies episode. :)

                    And for another perspective on Chopped look at the recent thread about 'hard luck stories'.

                    1. re: paulj

                      well obviously they have to cut someone!

                      1. re: smartie

                        but with a smile and encouraging word :)

                        1. re: paulj

                          How bout just objective criticism of the dish rather than melodramatic scowls of contempt?

                          Failing that - if the judges absolutely MUST be contemptuous - at least they could strive to imitate that clever little pissweasel Jeffrey Steingarten from ICA, Vogue, etc.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            Now how boring would THAT be? I'm there for the DRAMA, baybee...and that means bring on the eyerolls, the stink eye, the petty comments, the argumentative contestants!

                            1. re: freia

                              Strangely enough, I enjoy watching the argumentative contestants.

                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                Now THAT would be a fun threadI I know MY favorite! The one with Malik!


                  2. Zakarian's stink-eye is the only one that annoys me. It usually just seems to me that they're more likely, with the competition set-up, to get fairly mediocre food, and call it as it is. Alex and Amanda often seem the kindest to me -- it's Chris Santos and Zakarian that usually come off as the sourpusses, IMHO, and Santos I just laugh at.

                    Then again, I just ignore the silly production zoom-ins on the judges chewing faces -- everyone looks pretty silly while contemplating the contents of their mouth.