Like your typical average American, I put Chopped on while I’m cooking dinner. It makes me feel like I could one day enter a culinary competition myself.
However, the only thing I have in common with the chefs on Chopped is the occasional bleeding finger, and that’s just when I’m using spoons.
The beauty in Chopped is that not every contestant is a professional chef. They are real, everyday people who have a passion for cooking. Oh, and they also went to culinary school, trained at a four-star French restaurant and now have their own private catering business. But besides that, they are your everyday chef in the kitchen.
I’m a fan of the show’s concept. Contestants are given a random assortment of ingredients to work without any prior knowledge of what they will be. There is something exhilarating about watching people run around on slick floors with sharp objects in their hands. In reality, we’re all watching and waiting for someone to be impaled with a steak knife the more I think about it.
Chopped relates so well because the vast majority of us come home after a day at the office to a bare fridge containing two-week old Chinese food, condiments, dying vegetables you swore you were going to eat this time around and something growing mold on it. We’re left scratching our heads wondering what the hell we’re going to do for dinner. After a few lengthy seconds of deliberation, we give up and order takeout for the fifth straight night.
On Chopped, you’re forced to use your imagination. I would like to say this has expanded my horizons and allowed me to experiment more myself with different flavor combinations. But all it has really done is bring out my cynical side as I shake my head in disgust and mumble, “That’ll never fucking work” while shoving a third slice of pizza down my throat.
More often than not, those weird concoctions do in fact work. I would take note of what they made, but I’m too busy fanning the smoke from the dinner I was attempting to make on my new Ronco Rotisserie out the window. Turns out that “set it and forget it” asshole was full of shit. I’ve only got seven more easy payments remaining, but it’s practically paying for itself in testing my smoke alarm batteries at this point. You can’t put a price tag on saving a life.
My one beef with Chopped is when they go overboard with the mystery ingredients.
“In the entrée basket, we have: jawbreaker candy, fig newtons, soybean peanut butter, ostrich meat and the bottom of host Ted Allen’s shoe.”
I’m all for throwing the chefs a curveball, but let’s not go overboard with it. If these are everyday items for people living in the third world, then scratch them off the list. This isn’t Survivorman; I don’t need to know how to make crickets appetizing in a pinch. Do I need to start donating 10 cents a day to Food Network in order to stock the Chopped pantry with edible items? Give me “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan with a slow motion zoom in on Guy Fieri shedding tear onto a triple stacked burger and it’s yours.
The number one ingredient that never gets mentioned is sweat. High definition television is the enemy of chefs. Have you seen their foreheads? There isn’t even a need to put olive oil in the pan with the amount of sweat that is dripping down. Never meet your heroes and never get an up close and personal look at the chef making your meal.
Chopped is the evening hour staple that will leave you convinced this will be the year you start to actual cook your own meals.
In the meantime – where the hell is the pizza guy? We’re almost up to the dessert portion of the episode..
Image via Food Network / YouTube