Chopped (2007– )

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It's a Chopped All-Stars tournament event! Through four preliminary competitions, sixteen celebrities battle it out for a spot in the $50,000 finale!

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 Himself - Host (315 episodes, 2009-2015)
Alex Guarnaschelli ...
 Herself - Judge / ... (127 episodes, 2009-2015)
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Storyline

Chopped challenges four promising chefs to turn a selection of everyday ingredients into an extraordinary three-course meal. In each episode, four chefs compete. The show is divided into three rounds; in each round, the chefs are given a basket containing between three and five unrelated ingredients, and the dish each competitor prepares must contain all of these ingredients. Written by Toby Padilla

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13 January 2009 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

 
fed up
20 October 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I really enjoy watching the contestant chefs prepare elegant gourmet dishes from surprise unusual ingredients. For a while, that worked for me. But the more I watched, the more disgusted I became by the judges.

Of course, we, the audience, don't see everything that happened, only what the directors splice together for broadcast. And we can't taste the food. We can only hear the comments of the judges and the contestants. And we can only see the scenes cut from the various cameras, scenes provided obviously out of their natural sequence and spliced together to provide a feel for the competition rather than a raw presentation of it.

That is what the audience has and it is all the audience can use to judge the program. If the directors have omitted important information that would change our opinion, too bad.

The show's host gives the rules at the beginning of the show. Each dish will be judged on presentation, taste, and creativity. But creativity rarely gets the judges' thumbs up. The contest begins with each of four chefs preparing an appetizer. The chef with the "worst" appetizer is chopped and each of the three remaining chefs prepares an entrée. The chef with the "worst" entrée is chopped and each of the two remaining chefs prepares a dessert. The winner is chosen based on all three courses.

Given that scenario, a chef who is second worst in both the first and the second rounds should have a nearly impossible task of winning. However, it happens more often than we would expect. The judges' critiques of the first two courses are shown again along with their critiques of the final course, but the judges' interpretation inexplicably changes so that one final contestant, who earlier was deemed by them to be far inferior to the other final contestant, in the final analysis becomes a close competitor and even wins.

Worse for me is that chefs whose dishes appear to be quite beautiful and are given only mild negative comments by the judges, are chopped over chefs whose dishes appear to be quite unappealing and are given far more severe negative comments by the judges. In too many cases, judges have chopped chefs, not for any objective flaw, but because of the judges inappropriate subjective criteria, e.g., the absolute quantity (i.e., not the relative quantity of how much of one thing versus another thing was on a plate, but how much in total was on a plate, e.g., one clam was not enough for an appetizer, a sandwich was too much), the sweetness of a dessert (one judge likes things very sweet, another judge doesn't), the sweetness of an appetizer (one judge doesn't like sweet appetizers), the degree to which something should be cooked (some judges prefer rare, some prefer medium, none like well done).

Recall the criteria: presentation; taste; and creativity. Portion size is not among the criteria, unless we stretch presentation to cover this, and that would be quite a stretch. Taste, I think, means that it should taste good, that the flavors of the required ingredients shine clearly and are well balanced. Again, it would be a stretch to include in the taste criteria whether an appetizer should or shouldn't be sweet. Of course, any dish, even a dessert, may be too sweet. And that would be factor in taste, along with too bland, too salty, too sour, too bitter. But too sweet is not at all the same as sweet or not sweet. And the degree of doneness (rare, medium, well) clearly does not fit under any of the criteria.

There are things that must be cooked to a minimum degree (e.g., chicken and pig). And anything can be overcooked. No, these don't fall under presentation, taste, or creativity. Nor does chef's blood, but getting your blood in the food is also a no-no. As is double-dipping, i.e., tasting the food from a utensil and putting the utensil back into the food. Indeed, sanitary conditions aren't among the criteria. But these are universal rules and properly implied. Things like rare, medium, well are personal preferences and not properly implied.

To be fair, if the judges have a standard by which dishes are to be judged, they should inform the contestants beforehand. But they don't. After a while, the show became, for me, an exercise in watching mediocrity win $10,000. I am not entertained by watching mediocre chefs play it safe with their cooking. I see nothing interesting. I learn nothing interesting. For those reasons, I had to chop this program from my schedule.


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