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July 02, 2012

Getting "Chopped" on the Food Network

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Chopped judges and tedWhile channel surfing the other day, I came across "Chopped" on the Food Network and it's my new mindless, TV addition.  

The premise is simple, four chefs are given the same ingredients and compete against each other to come up with the tastiest and most imaginative dishes they can in 20-30 minutes.  

The first show I saw had the contestants trying to come up with an appetizer that included duck hearts and chocolate covered cherries.  Another episode had the four firefighter contestants trying to come up with a dessert that included croissant pastry dough, hot chocolate mix, and dried currants. 

There are three rounds in each hour long episode, appetizer, entree, and dessert, and after each round, the chef who comes up short is, wait for it... chopped!

Now I have to admit, this show has been around since 2009, so I'm extremely late to this chopping party, but hey, I call 'em when I get to 'em.

The show is an addictive formula that's part "Beat the Clock," part "Survivor," and part "Chefs gone Wild." Actually, I exaggerate 'cause most of the chefs I've seen are well behaved and personable.  That is when they're not cutting off their fingers or throwing refuse on the floor.

Chopped contestants

A rotating panel of three judges determines the winner based on taste, presentation and creativity. The top prize is $10,000, which in this day and age seems a little chintzy, but this is basic cable after all and I guess, 10 grand is better than no grand. 

One thing I find particularly funny about the show is how the suspenseful music they play while the judges are giving their critiques can swing wildly from the theme from "they like me, they like," to the dirge from "death by chocolate."  

All reality shows use those musical cues to tell us clueless viewers how we're supposed to feel, but the musical director on "Chopped" appears to take great pleasure in grating on our auditory nerves.

Ted Allen, the food guy from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" is the host, and all in all, it's a great premise, a fun show, and destined to teach one or two foodies out there some new tips in the kitchen. 

"Chopped" airs on the Food Network, Tuesdays at 10pm/9c.

Photos courtesy Food Network

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