The Brilliance of Chopped: A Review

The Brilliance of Chopped: A Review May 16, 2017

The Food Challenge is Eternal
The TV Food Challenge is Eternal

The Chopped Challenge has become part of our home vocabulary. If we get home late from The Saint Constantine School, the Reynolds family faces a cupboard full of odd ingredients. We know we can make a great meal.



Four chefs compete before celebrity chefs to make food from an unspeakable list of ingredients. It is Chopped that introduced arugula and ganache to our house: no thanks and thanks respectively. You can make an appetizer out of Fruit-Loops type cereal and other improbable ingredients. Who knew all that could be done with disgusting cow parts?


Ted Allen is good at introducing each match (three elimination rounds: Appetizer, Entree, Dessert). The chefs are timed and rush about the same kitchen creating something from nearly nothing or worse than nothing. The ingredient combinations are often disgusting.

Mostly, even the “losers” have done amazing things with the weird ingredient combinations. Entertainment comes as you root for the person who appeals to you. . . and Chopped has had more than one villain character chef who makes you hope he is eliminated for bringing his own cocoa nibs. Along the way the Chopped celebrity chef judges teach us lessons:

Fish and cheese do not go together. 

Fresh food is good. Prepared food is normally annihilated to components in order to be edible. 

Plating (think decorative presentation of chow) makes food look better and so taste better. 

Chefs appropriate food and cooking techniques from around the world. There is a republic of food. 

Use all the ingredients: get creative. 

There is nothing profound in Chopped, but there is something good.

We eat food and so if we can, we should do so mindfully. Why not make something delicious rather than settling for fast food? Chopped shows how quickly a good cook can make something delicious from a simple base of ingredients. However, fresh food is not available or affordable to many Americans. They are stuck eating the gross processed food that the Chopped kitchen shows is not only bad for us, but inferior in taste. Not having good food is not as bad as starving to death, ditch water is better than dying of thirst, but is not desirable. We can (and should) do better.

Finally, not to be cheesy and fish around for a moral to the show, but the fact that you can (almost always) use all the ingredients to make something good is about how I view managing a team. It is rare when you cannot find a place for the Canned Sardine in the office even if you also have a Gouda Cheese.  This is a challenge and leaders who don’t solve it will be chopped.

I sometimes imagine God in his Heaven taking all the ingredients He is given. . . some not designed to go together in the original plan and finding a way to create something good and wholesome out of the lot. I take hope in that, even if I am a bit moldy, God can find a use for me!



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