Debra – Chopped

I don’t really cook, but I’m hooked on a Food Network “competition” show called CHOPPED.

The concept is simple.  Four chefs compete to make the best of a bad situation.  A line up might be a personal chef, a sous chef, an executive chef and a restaurant/owner/chef.  Or a culinary instructor, someone returning to the line after a five year absence, a caterer and a hotel chef.

There are three rounds and one person is “chopped” each round until only one remains to take home the 10k prize.  These folks have to work for their money.  In each timed round (appetizer, entree, desert) they are given a mystery basket of what are generally horrific ingredients.  Often there are ingredients that the chefs haven’t worked with, don’t know what they are or how to cook them.  Or are ingredients no self-respecting chef would use.  (i.e. canned fruit cocktail, licorice, scallops and leeks– how do you make an appetizer from that?!)  On one show, they had to be told the seeds of the fruit they had to use were poisonous.  Yep, not a single seed could find its way into their dish and the darned thing looked like all seeds!

They have a huge pantry of ingredients to pull into their dish, but the mystery basket ingredients are supposed to come through loud an clear in the dish.  A panel of well-known chefs and restaurateurs taste the dishes, give feedback and ultimately decides who goes each round.

While I can’t stand the staged reality programming where high drama and back biting are so popular, I find I love watching a heads-up, winner take all battle.  I find myself hoping they’ll all get food on the plate in each round before the buzzer sounds.  I’m sad for them when they realize they’ve forgotten to plate something they left on the stove or only got it onto two plates.  I’m a little irritated when a chef leaves the sauce in the pan and the judges ask the other competitors, “Would you mind if we taste the sauce?  Can he/she bring it over here?”  Especially in the first round.  How do you win that argument?  You’re a jerk and insecure about your food if you say no.  You’re an idiot if you say yes and give away your edge.  It is a competition!

I’d think a more fair way to approach those things that are true mistakes and not a matter of kitchen mismanagement would be:  Once the buzzer sounds, you have thirty seconds to review your plates and correct any issues that can be corrected in that thirty seconds.  After that…you’re toast.  No do-overs.

How would you/do you answer when you’re put in the impossible situations where you can be gracious and screw your own chances or you can take a less compassionate/flattering position but preserve your advantage?  Come on.  Tell the truth.  Are you a “take the high road” person or a realist who has the eye on the prize?

A random number generator will be picking one lucky commenter for a prize!!  Winners get their choice of $15 online bookstore gift certificate.

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16 Responses to Debra – Chopped

  1. TrishJ says:

    Ooo, I LOVE that show! I find myself putting weird stuff in the food I’m cooking, just to see, cuz really, just how good can fruit cocktail and licorice really taste together!

    If I’m put in one of those uncomfortable positions, I always take a step back. I tend to put myself in the other person’s shoes. So I’d probably just ignore the sauce on the stove and say the dish was just fine!!

  2. Kathleen says:

    I have watched this show a few times.. it’s okay but some of the judges on this show tick me off… I love Iron Chef America.. Bobby Flay is one of my all time favs to watch cook.. And I absoutley adore Paula Deen… She’s my idol..
    Though I watch these shows I am not a real good cook.. but they do inspire me to at least try something new once in awhile…

  3. CrystalGB says:

    I love watching Chopped. I wouldn’t want to appear like a jerk so I would probably take the high road.

  4. Helen Brenna says:

    Deb, I love chopped, but I squirm for those chefs while they’re standing in front of those judges. I think they’re mostly not surprised by the outcome, although every once in a while you can tell the chef was blindsided.

    I *try* to take the high road. I’m competitive, but with more so with myself than anyone else.

  5. Terry Odell says:

    I’m a Chopped watcher too. Also Iron Chef America, Next Food Network Star, Top Chef & the variations thereupon. (Is this where it’s obvious that I’m a cooking show junkie? Never watched American Idol or Dancing with the Stars, but put a show in a kitchen and I’m there.)
    I’d probably be stuck being the gracious one–have my mom to thank for that aspect of my personality. We were always taught not to make waves–which probably stems from her own childhood back in the ‘right before WWII days’ where being noticed as a minority could get you killed. But that’s a major digression.
    Terry
    Terry’s Place

  6. lsureader says:

    Fairness is one of my hot-button issues, so I appreciate what you’re saying. The show should be equal in its treatment of all contestants. No one should be penalized for following the rules, which is what happens in the example you describe. I like your compromise, especially because it fits with the “cook versus clock” aspect of the show. But no contestant should ever be asked by a judge, “Would you be so petty as to object if I showed preferential treatment to another contestant?” That’s not wanting to win at all costs. That’s just fairness.

  7. Linda Morgan says:

    I love Chopped, too. I don’t watch faithfully, but usually on weekends that’s about all that’s on my cheapest possible satellite package. I see the judges bemoaning dishes where the chef ran out of time, and it’s funny to watch a judge yum it up when he was the only one to get an item. I try to be fair and play by rules, so if you run out of time or forget the sauce, you lose and have nobody to blame but yourself. However, if the judges want to taste that sauce, I have no problem as long as they don’t let that sauce enter into the scoring/judging. I would hate to be a judge on that show. Some of the combinations really look awful, or it’s something I don’t eat, and it probably would be fair to refuse to taste a dish because I don’t like an ingredient.

  8. Minna says:

    Well, I’d never even heard about this show until now.

  9. Michele says:

    I’m very competitive, but like Helen, more with myself than others. I don’t think I’ve seen this show and probably don’t get it because I don’t have cable. I do love watching Dancing With The Stars, but the competition is diluted by the ‘popularity vote’ sometimes, so it can be frustrating when the best dancer doesn’t win.

    The shows I really miss from cable are the home decorating ones!

  10. Quilt Lady says:

    I don’t watch the show, I have to cook about every day so I don’t enjoy cooking shows. I don’t watch to much reality TV anyway. I guess I am more a realist and I will step back and let someone else go for it. I am not sure this is a good way to be though.

  11. ellie says:

    I have watched this show and sometimes feel badly for the criticism and behavior of the judges. I enjoy seeing the various creations that are made. I would be gracious and kind and not make a fuss.

  12. catslady says:

    Oh, I’ve never watched this show but I’ve been hearing a lot about it. I think I now have to give it a try!

  13. PatriciaW says:

    I love the food battles: Chopped, Top Chef, Iron Chef America, even Food Network Star.

    I wouldn’t allot any additional time. Sure, mistakes happen, but mistakes also get you sent home (or they should). What I haven’t like is that the judges on Chopped exercise too much discretion, like keeping someone who forgot to use one of the basic ingredients (the only requirement) and sending home someone who got everything on the plate but they didn’t love their food.

  14. I haven’t seen the show, but I’m for the same rules applying to everyone. On the other hand, if I were competing in a judged competition, I wouldn’t want to beat someone strictly on a technicality.

    I’m with Michele–I miss the decorating shows. I liked the old “Trading Spaces.” It went downhill when they kicked Paige off.

  15. debradixon says:

    What I’m seeing is that a lot of us would take the gracious route.

    Hubby made avocado fries the other night. I kid you not. We love watching the cooking shows and it does spur him to try new things and recipes he sees that he might not have tried before.

  16. Jane says:

    I’d like to think I would take the high road. I don’t want to be a villain.

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