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Thread: "Chopped" on The Food Network

  1. #1
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    Red face "Chopped" on The Food Network

    I've come to really enjoy this show. As much as "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives."

    Love the kooky ingredients which are often found in the baskets. Never before heard of Celery Soda, Mountain Yams, or Jewish Mallow.

    Of course the pressure and stress of having to come up with something edible and presentable out of those (and added) ingredients in a short space of time. I am often *so* impressed with the results.

    However, there are definite dislikes: What's up with blenders or mixers not working half the time? And last night there weren't enough plates (?!) for all 4 chefs (appetizer round)...so one guy had to settle for presentation in bowls.

    Another dislike are the chefs getting too personal, or trying to play for judges' sympathy: How their family did this or that, or "I'm competing for the $10,000 towards cancer research; a friend is a survivor." Well that's all nice and terrific...but do you want to be judged on your culinary skills or not? I get tired of chefs trying for emotional manipulation. You're there to be judged on your skills as a chef!

    Overall very enjoyable though.

  2. #2
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    I watch it and enjoy it.

    I suspect that the "broken" equipment is as much the chef being unfamiliar with the equipment as the equipment breaking from frenzied use. Yes a blender is a 'simple' device; but how all the pieces latch together seems to change from company to company.

    Other limitations are there to inspire creativity; like having only 1 ice cream machine; it makes the chef reconsider "do I take the time to clean it from the other guy and risk not having it be frozen, or do I change my plans?" (Most change plans)

    And yes, I'm beginning to hate the "Tell us why you want the money" segments. It, at its heart, is a game show. Game shows are about prizes. You get the money and you do whatever the hell you want with it. No one needs to justify it further. (I hate the way that's happening with more and more shows lately).

  3. #3
    Last fall we got a free preveiw of the food network. Chopped was there and other shows I liked. The only thing is the last thing you need when there is a thosuand and one things to do is another network you want to watch.
    ...I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.

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    I started watching it a few weeks ago and got hooked. I'm about 70% accurate, I'd guess, at figuring out who's being chopped each round. Thank goodness for "On Demand" on my cable. I can get rid of the commercials!

    I've been growing increasingly suspicious, however, that they producers are playing games with the contestants. Remotely turning the range up or down so the the pan or oven is too hot or too cold. Turning off the current to the food processor. Hiding items in the pantry. If they are, it's probably that the judges don't know about it.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    One of the things I liked about it is the ingredient selection; just the variety they get. Iron Chef has a lot of different ingredients, but Chopped has a lot more, since you only need to make 1 dish including it.

    I saw an episode once that featured Fiddleheads of all things. It's a spring time item from the Maritimes (and New England?) that I never really expected would show up down there. (Up here the road side sellers have just started hawking the fiddleheads from the back of vans as usual in the Spring)

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    It sounds like similar issues when skiffy had Marcel's Quantum Kitchen.
    He had some really neat ways to prepare food. But they really didn't show much about how they actually accomplished thier creations. Instead it was more about the time frame, where the kitchen would be, fighting with the party planner and other stuff like that.

  7. #7
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    Last evening chicken liver was an ingredient in the appetizer round. I was surprised no one made pate from it. Doesn't take long, especially with such a small amount of livers they were given.

    Trebuchet:
    I've been growing increasingly suspicious, however, that they producers are playing games with the contestants. Remotely turning the range up or down so the the pan or oven is too hot or too cold. Turning off the current to the food processor. Hiding items in the pantry. If they are, it's probably that the judges don't know about it.
    Oh my goodness! That'd be so wrong. Sort of amusing...but wrong.

  8. #8
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    Not to rain on the parade, but I don't like Chopped, nor do I care for any of the competitive cooking shows. I hate how reality TV has made everything in life a competition, and I think Food Network has gone down hill since they have started devoting so much of their time to such competitions. I liked it much better when it was just shows about cooking and food (I miss Emeril's show, for example).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    Not to rain on the parade, but I don't like Chopped, nor do I care for any of the competitive cooking shows. I hate how reality TV has made everything in life a competition, and I think Food Network has gone down hill since they have started devoting so much of their time to such competitions. I liked it much better when it was just shows about cooking and food (I miss Emeril's show, for example).
    I see that point, definitely. I also mostly dislike such hypercompetitiveness. And now there's "The Next Food Network Star" (2nd season?). I never watch it.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Taeolas View Post
    One of the things I liked about it is the ingredient selection; just the variety they get. Iron Chef has a lot of different ingredients, but Chopped has a lot more, since you only need to make 1 dish including it.

    I saw an episode once that featured Fiddleheads of all things. It's a spring time item from the Maritimes (and New England?) that I never really expected would show up down there. (Up here the road side sellers have just started hawking the fiddleheads from the back of vans as usual in the Spring)
    Did someone mention Fiddleheads.
    ...I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheOncomingStorm View Post
    Did someone mention Fiddleheads.
    Yup. Just saw that one. They didn't look like something I'd eat.

    I too love the bizarre ingredient selection. Sometimes the chefs complain and I have to wonder if they'd never seen the show before they came on. They do sometimes use alternative names for the ingredients, either to disguise a brand name or just to make it sound more exotic. For example, one ingredient was spiced ham. In a can. SPiced hAM. Spam! I was disappointed someone didn't fix Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, eggs, and Spam.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    Wish I could eat Spam again. Seriously. Loved the "lite" version fried with black pepper, egg & cheese on top for a breakfast sandwich. No more Spam for me (tummy troubles).

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    One ingredient I've seen on the show which stumped everyone (judges, Tim Allen, and participants) was canned whole chicken. No one had ever seen canned whole chicken. Well I have; two local grocers have them for sale -- for years! That gave me a giggle.

  14. #14
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    I watched a few episodes when it first came on, then stopped. The whole "Survivor: Pate'" thing grew cold for me long ago.

    And a lot of the dishes just looked like a mess.

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    I too, wondered if producers were playing with competitors' minds by having equipment malfunction or seemingly out of calibration.

    The judging also can become questionable, when a contestant makes a dish to their preference, but a judge knocks them because they personally don't like something. I recall one episode where one judge's problem was he didn't care for the taste of raw red onions in a dish. When same contestant used raw red onions again in a later round, the comment was " I told you I don't like raw red onions, yet you used them again" (or something like that) . I could only speculate, if the contestant should have left the red onions off altogether or removed that ingredient from that particular judge's dish, with the explanation "I remembered your earlier comment", or would the contestant then get it for not all dishes being "identical".

    I do prefer "Top Chef" and seasonally I liked shows like Bobby Flay's "Boy Meets Grill" and Rob Rainford's "Licence To Grill", for recipe ideas. Other shows I have used for recipe ideas are: "French Food at Home" with Laura Calder, "Chef at Home" with Michael Smith and a couple of Anna Olsen's baking shows.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Parrothead View Post
    The judging also can become questionable, when a contestant makes a dish to their preference, but a judge knocks them because they personally don't like something. I recall one episode where one judge's problem was he didn't care for the taste of raw red onions in a dish. When same contestant used raw red onions again in a later round, the comment was " I told you I don't like raw red onions, yet you used them again" (or something like that) ...
    The judge was out of line. The contestant should have retorted, "Oh I'm sorry, I didn't know this was a restaurant. Anything else you don't care for?"

    The contestants do what they can. Judges eat what's set before them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buttercup View Post
    The judge was out of line. The contestant should have retorted, "Oh I'm sorry, I didn't know this was a restaurant. Anything else you don't care for?"
    I disagree. The judges' complaint the first time is out of line, as raw red onions are something that many other people enjoy (myself included.) But once you know that the person responsible for deciding if you win the cooking contest hates raw red onions, why on earth would you use them again? Adapt.

    Scott Whatshisname, the judge in question, is bad about that. He also has put down contestants for using cheese on fish simply because "You don't serve cheese on fish!" (even though they were both basket ingredients.) The other judges said, "It's unusual and something you wouldn't want to do most of the time, but you made it taste great!" So Scott's complaint wasn't even based on how it tasted, just that "you don't do that."

    But again, once a judge tells you something once and you go on to the next round, if you do it again that's on you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fazor View Post
    I disagree. The judges' complaint the first time is out of line, as raw red onions are something that many other people enjoy (myself included.) But once you know that the person responsible for deciding if you win the cooking contest hates raw red onions, why on earth would you use them again? Adapt.

    Scott Whatshisname, the judge in question, is bad about that. He also has put down contestants for using cheese on fish simply because "You don't serve cheese on fish!" (even though they were both basket ingredients.) The other judges said, "It's unusual and something you wouldn't want to do most of the time, but you made it taste great!" So Scott's complaint wasn't even based on how it tasted, just that "you don't do that."

    But again, once a judge tells you something once and you go on to the next round, if you do it again that's on you.
    But if it's only him complaining, I think it's out of line. If all 3 judges were to have said "Yeah -- red onions on that; we don't like red onions" well then sure, it'd be wise not to use red onions again.

    Actually a flap concerning red onions occurred earlier this week: A contestant decided, last minute, to finely chop and sprinkle red onion on fish. One judge mentioned the onion clashed with other flavors. That seemed an appropriate response, and I'd likely have agreed.

    But, imo, the show can't have judges behaving as though they're customers in a restaurant.

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    So if you're entering a pie in the county fair pie-off, and a judge says, "I just think cherry pie is too tart and boring. Use something else," you think it's wise to turn around and bake a second cherry pie? Sure, it's just that judges' personal opinion. But why on earth would you intentionally serve a judge something you now know they don't like?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fazor View Post
    Scott Whatshisname, the judge in question, is bad about that. He also has put down contestants for using cheese on fish simply because "You don't serve cheese on fish!" (even though they were both basket ingredients.) The other judges said, "It's unusual and something you wouldn't want to do most of the time, but you made it taste great!" So Scott's complaint wasn't even based on how it tasted, just that "you don't do that."
    I never heard that before, so I searched and found this article that gives a few reasons.
    #1 Makes sense. But; I don't see it as an excuse that it should not be done.
    #2 Traditions are fine, but should not be a factor when developing a new dish.
    #3 Maybe the judge was offended on religious grounds?
    #4 I really don't consider anchovies a "dish" to be served.

    I like cheese on fish. It's not often I get truly fresh fish, so the cheese helps. Especially chedder. Fresh fish is another story.
    (I wonder if that's why most fast food restaurants have cheese on thier fish sandwich)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fazor View Post
    So if you're entering a pie in the county fair pie-off, and a judge says, "I just think cherry pie is too tart and boring. Use something else," you think it's wise to turn around and bake a second cherry pie? Sure, it's just that judges' personal opinion. But why on earth would you intentionally serve a judge something you now know they don't like?
    In that context, of course I wouldn't.

    But in the context of 3 judges and only 1 complains (on grounds of personal taste), I think that's inappropriate. I would have avoided using red onions again (because of the 1 judge's complaint). However, the contestants shouldn't feel the additional pressure to "cook to individual judge preference."

    If I were a judge on "Chopped" and clam chowder were served, everyone would be in trouble because I hate clam chowder. But if preparing that were one of the dishes made with milk and canned oysters, I'd have to deal with it.

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    I don't think that even "dealing with it" is even fair.
    It's not the fact that a judge doesn't like something or not, but to the degree. After all, judging a food contest is ALL about the taste.
    If I had to draw a line, it would be the fact that the judge pre-judged the taste instead of tasting it and said "Yuck".
    I would think that a judge with a strong enough dislike for something not to even try it would excuse himself from judging.
    Fazor; you said the judge didn't like onions, but was that because he tasted them, or just "knew" they were there?

    For somebody like the food channel not getting judges that are open to a wide variety of tastes seems to be careless.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by NEOWatcher View Post
    Fazor; you said the judge didn't like onions, but was that because he tasted them, or just "knew" they were there?
    Tasted them. His actual complaint to the first dish was more along the lines of "Raw red onions are too astringent of a flavor, and it's not a pleasant flavor to everyone. I don't like raw red onions in dishes, to me it's just too harsh of a flavor."

    ETA: Here's a youtube link to the judging of the second round, when the chef used onions again. I didn't find the clip of them judging the first round but I'm pretty busy at work and didn't get to look real hard.

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    Anyhow, I like Nadia G's *****in' Kitchen best. She's a rip.

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    My recollection of the "red onion incident" was that they simply overpowered the rest of the dish. Also note that just because you only heard one judge mention it, doesn't mean the others liked it. The show is SEVERELY edited. I'll admit I'm biased because I don't like raw red onions (or most other raw onions) myself. I'm quite fond of cooked ones.

    The episode I just watched had rutabaga. For desert.
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  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Yup. Just saw that one. They didn't look like something I'd eat.
    If you like spinach or aspargus would probably like them. They are the early stages of the ostrich fern before it uncoils. I have close relatives to them growing on my property but they are unedible. They like it slightly mor to north like around Fredericton and further north. Also they only grow in the wild and some around here have found spots where they grow but mostly keep it to themselves.
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    Despite growing up in the area, I think I've only had them once and never really had an interest in them. You need to pick them well before they uncoil, and you need to boil them 2-3 times at least with new water each time to leech out the tannins and toxins. Fiddleheads When they're in season (as we are right now), we often have vans/cars parked at corners with signs selling Fresh Picked Fiddleheads for sale.

  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Taeolas View Post
    Despite growing up in the area, I think I've only had them once and never really had an interest in them. You need to pick them well before they uncoil, and you need to boil them 2-3 times at least with new water each time to leech out the tannins and toxins. Fiddleheads When they're in season (as we are right now), we often have vans/cars parked at corners with signs selling Fresh Picked Fiddleheads for sale.
    There is usually a guy parked just outside of town selling them this time of year. We only boil them or steam them once. I look forward to them each year.
    ...I'm still free, you can't take the sky from me.

  29. #29
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    LOL! From the clip, I had forgotten that bit (paraphrased):

    "Please don't use raw onions in the dessert, if you make it that far"

    "I was considering red onion jam."

    At that point the contestant is definately pushing the judge's buttons.

  30. #30
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    I've had onion jams (or whatever they're called) before and they're pretty sweet and tasty.

    I've watched Chopped since the beginning and do wonder about the stove and oven issues some people seem to have. I chalk it up to an unfamiliarity with the different equipment.

    I agree that there are too many competition shows on now, though I don't consider it "reality TV" in the sense of the effluent that forces people to act out with bad behavior.

    Of course, the only reason I watch is Chef Amanda Freitag. But like Mike, I've discovered Nadia G. on Cooking Channel in the last 6 months.
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