Jump to content

Chopped: Junior Varsity Iron Chef America?


  • Please log in to reply

7241 replies to this topic

#1

OHgamer

OHgamer

    Couch Potato

Posted Jan 12, 2009 @ 2:43 PM

Passion and expertise rule the kitchen on the fast-paced new series, Chopped. Hosted by Ted Allen (Food Detectives), the series challenges four up-and-coming 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 will decide whose dishes shine the brightest and award the winner $10,000.


Hadn't seen a thread for this yet. Show debuts Tues 13 Jan 2009 on Food Network with this

Octopus, Duck, Animal Crackers

All bets are off when a slimy surprise in the Round One mystery basket surprises everybody. Then in the Entrée Round, one chef makes a risky creative choice. Will it pay off? And for the two chefs who survive the dreaded Chopping Block and make it all the way to the Dessert Round, challenges abound, when the competitors present their masterpieces made with animal crackers and prunes, will the judges prefer the more whimsical or traditional dish?


I am looking forward to this, I think it could be very good.

Edited by OHgamer, Jan 12, 2009 @ 2:44 PM.

  • 0

#2

Nysha

Nysha

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 12, 2009 @ 8:00 PM

I like Ted Allen & ICA, so I think this one will be a pretty decent show.
  • 0

#3

Bungalow Joy

Bungalow Joy

    Stalker

Posted Jan 13, 2009 @ 4:09 PM

American Idol, 8-10PM, then the premiere of Chopped. It'll be a good night of TV. My hope is this show's concept won't be all "Food Network"'d: watered down..."Let's not intimidate our home audience, people!"...made mediocre... I think I trust Ted Allen; I'm not quite sure. If this is his show, then I guess it's his gauntlet too. The network's already lost my trust, so it's really all about him.
  • 0

#4

BellaLugosiDead

BellaLugosiDead

    Loyal Viewer

Posted Jan 14, 2009 @ 1:41 AM

A very 'cast' show- you may get the feeling that you have seen all these types on an early season on Hells Kitchen- but this show has no budget so everyone is local.

The show's pallette is very dark, the judge and Ted are all in greys and mushrooms. The contestants are in black aprons. You actually feel glad when a contestant uses the hackneyed cilantro because in this case it does bring some color- the only drop on the tv screen.

Ted did nothing for me and apparently he took the shows pretensions seriously. Not quite as bad a "please leave the chateau" but he does kind of kick the contestants out so the judges can talk in an awkward way.

The ingredients appear to be chosen almost entirely for their shock value to the contestants. I didnt get a sense of the Iron Chef Japan conceit that the chef was going to explore the true nature of the ingredient. Instead it seems to be about the camera shot when the contestant opens the box and sees squid or animal crackers.

What happens then- stock character A reacts, stock characters B reacts. Much running. The interviews about what they were thinking. The secrete ingredients dont seem to have been chosen so that there is an 'answer' or even multiple answers. They are a bit of a random jumble who's main intent is to throw the contestant off. There is only 30 minutes per segments, like the producers can't be bothers to drag this things out, so there is no planning time and a lot of cooking methods are out of consideration. Everyone seems confused by the ingredients and interview that they decide to wing things. There is no danger of someone at home wanting to try out a dish created on this show. No opportunity for the chefs to do much tasting and adjustment.

The ethic is almost the opposite of Iron Chef Japan- here they dont care about the ingredients, the skill level is middling and every effort is to be spared.

The judging is kind of interesting since they didnt reveal the criterion until the end. They dont give a break down or on screen graphics so if you like to follow the intrigue of points you are out of luck. Alex was ok as a judge, gave some decent opinions that seemed to have some coherence. Said one dish was too salty which you almost never hear. The third judge want Geoffrey Zakarian, I think it was Marc Murphy and he had really on point criticisms. "Why is the mint on this dish- there is no reference to mint in it". The contestant replies- "we always use mint in catering". Ha! for me- I dont like all these plate decorations that show up with no function. Murphy had a bit of a Colin Quinn vibe to him and was the best of the judges.

Beyond that, Chopped showed signs of producer tampering for 'story' purposes. If you have watched reality television at all in the past 5 years you pretty much know what is going to happen each round's judging. That leads me to think that the scoring isnt so empirical.

All in all the show is about a 4 out of 10. Most of the first group of contestants were likable, which saved the episode. They dont seem to be picking clueless reality whores. Marc Murphy has interesting opinions. Ted Allen is doing nothing for the show right now so I suppose there is upside there. Chopped could pull its act together and get to a 6/10 show, but its never going to be something you feel you cant miss.
  • 0

#5

hilaryvm

hilaryvm

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 14, 2009 @ 1:49 AM

That was just...uninteresting. It was all very flat. It wasn't particularly interesting or intense. It looks like they're going for a cross between Top Chef and Iron Chef, but it doesn't make it.

I'm not sure what exactly would make it better, but it just didn't work for me.
  • 0

#6

Haveahabit

Haveahabit

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 14, 2009 @ 2:10 AM

I was surprised at how boring this show was. I think it may have been the chopping of a contestant after each round - which, admittedly, is the point of the show. I couldn't help but contrast this show with Great British Menu which was a show on BBC America a while ago. In that show, the 4 chefs cooked three courses which were each critiqued against one another but all of the chefs cooked all of the courses and the final decision was based on the best overall meal. It was a great show with a lot of tension. This was merely meh.
  • 0

#7

Sandstar

Sandstar

    Couch Potato

Posted Jan 14, 2009 @ 2:11 AM

I actually liked this show. I plan on watching it every tuesday. It was low-key, which is something Food Network seems to be straying from, and Ted's a lot more fun to watch then Padma.
  • 0

#8

Bungalow Joy

Bungalow Joy

    Stalker

Posted Jan 14, 2009 @ 3:05 AM

I didn't hate it.

I found the "surprise" ingredients not so incompatible, or challenging for a trained chef to work with except for the time limitations. In that sense it's fair as a competition. Rich duck, complex chocolate and bright orange is a beautiful combination, so congrats to the pastry chef for hopping that way, and I thought she should have won for that concept alone.

[...] ...

[...]

[another pause...]

I think I'll keep tuning in.
  • 0

#9

LogCabinPat

LogCabinPat

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 14, 2009 @ 11:43 AM

I am so-so about the show. I don't know how they can say they are featuring young and up-coming chefs when one of the contestants (and the eventual winner) has something like 30 years of professional catering experience.

The contestants were all likeable - no one got bitchy until after they were chopped. But why would a vegan/vegetarian chef even think about competing on a show like this?

And I did like the judges. I appreciate the fact that they are all chefs, not some of the really nasty food critics they frequently have on ICA. I liked the fact that they were able to watch the chefs in action and comment on what they were seeing.

Ted Allen, who I generally like, brought nothing to the show, although he did do an occasional Tom Collichio trademake sniff'n'sneer walkthough.

Edited by LogCabinPat, Jan 14, 2009 @ 11:47 AM.

  • 0

#10

njbarmaid

njbarmaid

    Couch Potato

Posted Jan 14, 2009 @ 12:34 PM

Wasn't the younger guy in the episode of Top Chef where the customers were candidates that didn't make the show? Him, or someone looking like him was on the epi blasting the cooks.
  • 0

#11

CoyoteBlue

CoyoteBlue

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 14, 2009 @ 1:31 PM

Ted Allen, who I generally like, brought nothing to the show

Except a melodramatic head-twitch that reminded me of Classic Shatner. Stop it, Ted; it doesn't make your narration more dramatically tense.
  • 0

#12

addicted_aardvark

addicted_aardvark

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 14, 2009 @ 6:36 PM

The contestants were all likeable - no one got bitchy until after they were chopped. But why would a vegan/vegetarian chef even think about competing on a show like this?


Particularly when she seemed somewhat perturbed about having been given meat. Did she expect to receive a different ingredient basket than the others? I think not. Guess she was cast for the "drah-ma": "will the vegan chef cook the meat? taste the product?"

And I did like the judges. I appreciate the fact that they are all chefs, not some of the really nasty food critics they frequently have on ICA.

That was a pleasant change. I wonder if they will be different for each episode, and also whether they will always include a FN host/chef? It would be interesting to have Anne Burrell as a judge.

Otherwise, I agree about the unexciting, unsuspenseful nature of this program. Not a particularly good vehicle for Ted Allen (in fact, neither of his FN shows are), not a particularly interesting "showcase for up & coming young chefs" (although I did love the pastry chef), and not a particularly good competition.
  • 0

#13

shiftkey

shiftkey

    Loyal Viewer

Posted Jan 14, 2009 @ 8:37 PM

I imagine the contestants, when auditioning, just knew it was a cooking competition and not how it would work (mystery baskets, etc.). Perhaps the vegetarian/vegan chef thought they'd be given total freedom to create a dish, in which case she'd wow everyone with an amazing meatless creation... but of course as soon as we, the audience, heard her background, we knew she was toast. (Although, she may have cheffed with other ingredients before going veg & might have done better with a meat/fish that was not octopus. That may have been the drama the show was hoping for: get everyone assuming the veg chef will fail, then have it turn out that she knows how to cook duck, monkfish, elk, or whatever).

I liked the show better once they got to the entrees. During the appetizer segment, when it seemed no one knew quite what to do with octopus and everyone was "winging it", I was starting to think no one should win. The entree course got a bit more interesting. I actually did want to try duck with cocoa crepes, and fruit soup. But I agree with the poster who complained about the chefs having no time for tasting and adjustment.
  • 0

#14

Rinaldo

Rinaldo

    Stalker

Posted Jan 14, 2009 @ 8:54 PM

I really like Ted, I wish a good vehicle for him could be created. Maybe in fact he's best as a critic/commentator -- like being a judge on ICA. Although I would love it if someone could think of a way to team him with Alton Brown in some new format: they're both food geeks but in contrasting ways, and they'd complement each other amusingly.
  • 0

#15

Sumik

Sumik

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 14, 2009 @ 9:01 PM

I agree that they should have allowed the contestants more time. . . perhaps more time with each course - thus increasing expectations for the final result.
  • 0

#16

orchidgal

orchidgal

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 14, 2009 @ 10:27 PM

I have to admit that I am not quite sure what to make of this show yet. Having never seen Top Chef, I can't even begin to judge whether this is just a poor knock-off. I do have to agree that the vegan/vegetarian chef was toast from the beginning, and I had my doubts that the pastry chef could hold her own when she admitted that she had no idea what to do with scallions.

I was very surprised that no one went with an Asian-inspired dish with the first challenge, given the ingredients. I was also quite pleased with myself when I immediately began thinking of menu options when the ingredients for the main course were revealed.

Bottom line? I'll watch again - if I remember.
  • 0

#17

Sumik

Sumik

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 14, 2009 @ 10:37 PM

I don't think it is much like Top Chef - it is alot more like Iron Chef.
  • 0

#18

BW Manilowe

BW Manilowe

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 14, 2009 @ 10:37 PM

Regarding the judges: I'm pretty sure I heard Ted say, somewhere around when he was introducing them last night, that there WOULD be "rotating" judges on the show (as on Iron Chef/Iron Chef America); they won't be the same 3 each week.

I liked the show. If it was stiff, or something, last night that might be because a lot of Pilots tend to be not as good as the rest of the series & that, for all intents & purposes, was the Pilot episode last night.
  • 0

#19

Rinaldo

Rinaldo

    Stalker

Posted Jan 15, 2009 @ 7:14 AM

Thinking it over a couple of days later, I'm feeling that that my biggest problems with the show may not be fixable, because they're inherent in the format: Ted Allen is the reason I'm watching, and he gets no chance to be himself when he's hosting this sort of show. He's a great reactor/evaluator; he can give criticism that's insightful and knowledgeable, with humor and snark but still sympathetic. But here, he's reduced to pre-determined, essentially scripted roles: introducing the judges and asking what they think, introducing the contestants and asking what they're doing. It could just as well be anyone doing all that, and someone else might in fact do it better.
  • 0

#20

BellaLugosiDead

BellaLugosiDead

    Loyal Viewer

Posted Jan 15, 2009 @ 12:15 PM

It could just as well be anyone doing all that, and someone else might in fact do it better.


I would love to see Jeffery Steingarten in that role. I bet the show wouldnt be blah then.

The big problem you cant get around the lack of a discernible focus- if they were focused on the competition they would tell us the scoring criterion and show us scores on screen.

If they were focused on food they would give more than 30 minutes to assemble a dish and the ingredients wouldn't be a jumble just for shock purposes.

All you are left with is trying to find likable people and producer scripted 'surprise' drama.
  • 0

#21

Wry Bread

Wry Bread

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 15, 2009 @ 1:31 PM

I tuned in but only because there was a post on the Addicted to Food Network blog that it was good. I changed the channel midway through the baby octopus battle and didn't look back. I realized it would be 95% Iron Chef with the remaining 5% being The Next Food Network Star rejects.

What really turned me off is that I was expecting to see people cook good food. (Look at all those o's!) Instead, it just seemed like Iron Chef with less talented people. I can only imagine the horror going through the judges' minds.
  • 0

#22

Lyle Lyle

Lyle Lyle

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 15, 2009 @ 2:20 PM

I really like Ted, I wish a good vehicle for him could be created. Maybe in fact he's best as a critic/commentator -- like being a judge on ICA. Although I would love it if someone could think of a way to team him with Alton Brown in some new format: they're both food geeks but in contrasting ways, and they'd complement each other amusingly.


The discussion here has me thinking that I'd like to see Ted in a revival of Food 911. That'd be well suited to his skills -- he's not a chef, but Food 911 is about basics and the "visiting people with food problems" nature of Foo 911 would bring up the people skills Ted demonstrated on Queer Eye.
  • 0

#23

addicted_aardvark

addicted_aardvark

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 15, 2009 @ 8:45 PM

The premise of this "competition" - the cooking from a box of surprise ingredients. I've been wracking my brains trying to remember. There was a show some years ago with the same premise. But I can't remember whether it was a Food Network show or on a cable or broadcast network. I don't think they had to do *three* separate courses, but think there was at least one elimination during the show. But I seem to recall that it was more interesting/captivating than Chopped was.
  • 0

#24

Beccadawg

Beccadawg

    Couch Potato

Posted Jan 15, 2009 @ 11:45 PM

Addicted, are you thinking of Ready, Set, Cook? Two chefs each got a set of ingredients and had to prepare a meal. This is where Paula Deen first showed up. I think it was a Gordon Elliott production.
  • 0

#25

Rocky Monoxide

Rocky Monoxide

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 16, 2009 @ 8:24 PM

I thought this was very Iron Chef meets Food Network Challenge with a dollop of Top Chef thrown in like a glob of unmixed cream cheese. (Sorry, pastry chef lady.) Exhibit A: the frosted-glass knife on the glass door when the losers were ejected from the kitchen JUST LIKE the frosted-glass knife on the glass door when losers are ejected from Top Chef.

I thought this was OK-ish. It was less interesting than I hoped it would be, but I will probably continue taping it for at least a few more episodes, because it seems like a good thing to keep in reserve for something vaguely entertaining to watch when there's nothing else on.
  • 0

#26

amnewsboy

amnewsboy

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 17, 2009 @ 4:00 PM

Ted Allen's Iron Chef knockoff... I like that these chefs are competing for a cash prize, and think it has enough twists in it to make it work.

I didn't think Ted Allen was utilized well in this show - I saw one glimmer of Ted being... well, Ted -- the rest was Ted being a generic reality show host.

As for the show... the main gripe I had was that they went by courses (appetizer / entree / dessert) and had a pastry chef competing. She did a decent job with the first two courses, can't deny that -- but at the same time, it totally put the other chef at a disadvantage in the final round (even though she lost).

Edited by TWoP Gadget, Jan 17, 2009 @ 7:16 PM.
moved from duplicate topic

  • 0

#27

Bungalow Joy

Bungalow Joy

    Stalker

Posted Jan 21, 2009 @ 2:15 AM

Second episode, and I have to say I liked it. The judging is very concentrated so understanding their individual points is very clear. The challenge itself seems very clear in terms of how the ingredients might marry, with one or two oddball elements. For instance, oysters, pork, cabbage, and daikon and Thai chilis. I could see something Portuguese, with an Asian twist. Or something else. But nothing too far afield of identifiable flavors that might completely flummox a chef, especially under the time constraints, and that makes the challenges comprehendable and interesting to me. Although actually, on hindsight, I might have done something like a wonton soup with dumplings made with paperthin skins of pork. I do wonder what else is available in the pantry.
  • 0

#28

Rinaldo

Rinaldo

    Stalker

Posted Jan 21, 2009 @ 7:14 AM

I liked the attitudes of the contestants last night, less pissy and I-was-wronged than on the premiere. Like Raymond, the first out (and I really liked him and thought sure the judges loved his dish), being disappointed of course, but saying nothing worse than "I'd hoped to stay in longer, but someone has to be out first," not the "I'm better than those slobs" we heard last week.

EXCEPT: when we were down to two, they were waiting in the kitchen to hear the outcome, and he (Christopher?) says nicely to her (Pippa?), "Thanks for the competition," and she for some reason gets all snotty about that and snarls "You're not rid of me yet, I could still win this." Stuff it, Pippa. Just for that, I wish you'd lost.

There's still no chance on this show for Ted to be Ted.
  • 0

#29

Bean Boy

Bean Boy

    Just Tuned In

Posted Jan 27, 2009 @ 11:12 PM

I like this show. There's actual cooking and food and nobody is snuggling or making out *coughLeahHoseacough* The judges are intelligent. The contestants are self-deprecating. Only Ted resembles a stuffed frog.

Anyway, tonight, I did not detect any pecans in Chef Chris' dessert. Copious amounts of his own spittle and egotism, yes. Pecans, one of the mandatory mystery ingredients, no.
  • 0

#30

EdgeGirl

EdgeGirl

    Couch Potato

Posted Jan 27, 2009 @ 11:24 PM

Anyway, tonight, I did not detect any pecans in Chef Chris' dessert. Copious amounts of his own spittle and egotism, yes. .


And nose sweat. Ew.
He was quite as ass wasn't he? Accusing another contestant of stealing, only apologizing when prompted after stealing himself, saying his entree was a "man's dish" and he felt sorry to give it to the female judge (who's name escapes me)...what a nightmare, Glad I don't have to work with him.

Ted seems quite robotic, and it looks like his hair is dyed. I see the contestants preparing 4 dishes but have no seen Ted eat anything. I wish he had stayed on as a Top Chef judge instead of Toby "I never met an analogy I didn't like" Young.
  • 0