Chopped Should Still be Lopped. But…

Okay, you got a chance to read my previous rant about Chopped.  While I still have issues with it, it has embarrassingly become one of my guilty pleasures.  I reluctantly admit that I do watch it from time to time. In fact, sometimes I even DVR individual episodes.  I haven’t gotten to the point where I automatically record it like I do Iron Chef America.  Which is another rant.

Now that I’ve made the humiliating admission that I watch it, I will make a list of things about Chopped that either annoy me or that I find quite interesting:

The chefs are truly sincere. And most of them are quite good.  Some are not as good as they think they are, but then again, they are often working with impossible ingredients. Let me rephrase that – they are always working with impossible ingredients.

What’s with the gray chef coats and dirty looking gray-brown baskets with the 1970 kitchen cabinet handles?!? Is that to make everything appear unappetizing before the competition even begins? Sheesh.

The “ingredients” range from unusual things I’ve heard of (cactus pears) to unusual things I haven’t (black garlic). Those are good. It’s the ones I have heard of that annoy me, such as Twinkies (“vanilla snack cakes”) or Fruit Loops (“fruit-flavored breakfast cereal”).

The judges’ seriousness when eating this garbage! What self-respecting chef is going to put Twinkies in an appetizer in a fine restaurant?!? I mean, really? Really?  Unlike the Secret Ingredient in Iron Chef America – which I can see chefs experimenting with in order to figure out what to put on a menu – many of those ingredients serve no purpose in a genuine kitchen.

The plot is like this:  The contestants open the box, swear at the last ingredient, and then try to prepare something edible. The judges seriously confer with each other (sometimes this is good and can be educational), and wait for the meals to be finished.  Once finished, they listen to the description of the dish from the chef, taste, furrow their brows, and then comment. Unless the dish truly sucks, they always have something good to say. Then one of them has something bad to say.  This is always accompanied by a noise that sounds like a violin being dragged through an ear drum. After the chefs have finished and have departed into the back room where they share their collective angst, the judges discuss among themselves the pros and cons of each dish and each chef. Then apparently by ESP, they “know” who is going to be chopped.  Which, except for the dessert round, always is revealed in a cliff-hanger.  Most of the time, the braggart chef is the one who’s chopped. The wide-eyed “I hope I did well” chef who needs the money for a sick child, faraway parents, special charity, or world peace will be the ultimate winner. Modesty is a plus.

I like Ted Allen. I mean, all things considered, I can’t say anything bad about Ted.  On the other hand, I didn’t root for Alex Guarnaschelli for NIC because she’s a judge (and a SERIOUS one) on Chopped. Plus Amanda Frietag got robbed. Even though she’s also a “serious” Chopped judge. But she has a twinkle in her eye telling us that maybe she’s not quite as serious as Alex.  Which is probably why she lost. Although Liz Faulkner really should have won.  She’s fierce. And she’s not a Chopped judge. A plus for her.

But I digress.

In spite of all of my gripes, I find that I watch the show on an increasingly regular basis.  Even though it’s the only cooking show that I find myself swearing at. Other than the whoosh on ICA, that is.

End of rant.  Thanks for listening.

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