Rating: Skip it
What do you get when you combine Ted Allen, four up-and-coming chefs and what seems to be a knock off of Top Chef? Food Network’s new television series, Chopped.
The series, which premiered on January 13, challenges these four chefs to turn a selection of everyday ingredients into an extraordinary three-course meal. After each course, a contestant gets “chopped” until the last man or woman left standing claims victory. Each week, a rotating panel of culinary elite judges (including Alex Guarnaschelli, Aaron Sanchez and Geoffrey Zakarian) decide whose dishes shine the brightest and award the winner $10,000.
It is hosted by Ted Allen (Food Detectives, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy), and seems to be just another typical food competition. The contestants were generally amateurish: take Katie Rosenhouse, a 21 year old pastry chef, Summer Kriegshauser, a vegan and vegetarian private chef, Sandy Davis, a chef at the Union Theological Seminary, and Perry Pollaci, a line cook from Bar Blanc — who was totally robbed of the win.
The show doesn’t attempt to add a twist to differentiate itself from any other cooking competition. Allen claimed in an article entitled “Eat Me Daily,” that the show “has actually been percolating at Food Network for a few years.”
He claimed that “just because there are already 37 cooking competition shows on TV doesn’t mean there are enough of them on Tuesday,” but later on dropped some criticism on Bravo and Top Chef.
Despite the predictability of the show and the redundant synopsis, there is credit to be given. There is no product placement, so you never see passionate lovers of good food being forced to use packaged convenience junk thanks to Kraft or Altria or even Exxon’s sponsorship.
If you’re bored on a Tuesday night and have no desire to study or do homework, stay clear of the Food Network. This show will most likely have no effect on you whatsoever, except perhaps make you hungry and in need of finding a fourth meal. And as a side note to Allen: Own up to it, host the show, cash your paycheck and move on.