Chopped Kitchen Envy

As mentioned in my previous post, I happen to be one of those people who will choose to watch The Food Network over anything else on television, just about all of the time.  Out of the dozens of cooking competition reality shows popping up on TV these days, (IE: Top Chef, Master Chef, Hell’s Kitchen etc.) my favorite has got to be Chopped.  Don’t get me wrong, I sit anxiously waiting for new episodes of Iron Chef America to air, but I can watch rerun episodes of Chopped for hours on end.  It’s not the competition side of the show I like, but the cooking and the eating.  I like listening to the commentary the chefs give about their experiences working in such a frantic time crunch, or using ingredients they have never heard or seen before, or simply listening to some of the monstrous egos the competitors have.  Occasionally you get that really humble chef who sees the Chopped Kitchen as the amazing playground that it is with its full pantry and refrigerator and use of every kitchen gadget or appliance one could ever hope to use, and I mean every.

The judges are great too.   They are all acclaimed chefs, restaurateurs, and cookbook writers who fully believe that their opinions’ are all that is holy and true in this world.  One hates raw red onions, one can’t palate spicy food.  One prefers his ostrich on the rare side; the other is more of a grey bird sort of eater.  None of them like to be inconvenienced by their food in any way, be it the plate it’s served on, or being given a piece of lamb still on the bone.

Then there is the wonderful awkwardness of egos clashing as haughty competitors try to maintain composure while their food is being scrutinized by the bourgeoisie of the culinary world.  I love it.

All these things make the show entertaining to watch from a comedy standpoint, but what I love most about the show is actually watching people cook!  Chefs are given four random ingredients (many of which I have never heard of before) and asked to compose an appetizer.  These chefs make a composed plate out of ingredients that usually do not belong in the same meal, let alone the same dish of food, and are able to come up with ideas in a split second.  That’s impressive!  Not only do they think of the dish, but then they execute their techniques masterfully (usually) and arrange the food on the plate in an attractive fashion…..sometimes. The most impressive of the three meals is almost always the dessert round.  Now yes, 9 times out of 10 someone makes a bread pudding or French toast, usually unsuccessfully.  But then there are those moments when people make baked goods without measuring anything.  HOW DO THEY DO THAT?!  I have a hard enough time remembering what ingredients I have already put into the mixer, let alone eyeballing out 3 cups of flower and 2 cups of sugar at the same time.  It’s madness.  Regardless of my obvious shortcomings as a chef compared to these competitors (because I’m not a chef, merely a home cook who is rather impressed with herself), I am still toying with the idea of sending in my Chopped application for one of their special event episodes.  Can you say “amateurs competition?”

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