Food Network is not particularly known for its innovation.  Iron Chef America is a version of Japan’s Iron Chef.  Jeff Corwin has a show that directly echoes Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods.  Meanwhile, Will Work for Food is essentially Dirty Jobs with a more annoying, somehow whiter host with food-related jobs.  Now we have Chopped, which is meant to combat Bravo’s Top Chef by condensing the show into a rotating cast of chefs and judges.  It’s terrifying in its sameness, and adds up to zero tension, zero gravitas and zero fun.


Premise: Four chefs of varying backgrounds (head, sous, nutritionist, amateur) not…get chopped.  They create a 3-course meal, and after every course someone get eliminated.  For every  30 minute round, disparate foods and food products are placed in a basket, and the chefs are asked to incorporate all of the items into the course.  The judges then decide whose is terrible and who isn’t.  Whoever doesn’t get chopped wins a smooth 10,000 dollars.  Did you notice how long it took me to explain the premise.  It takes them twice as long to do it on the show.  Woof.

Tagline: “You have been chopped.”  Ugh.  UGH.  At least we don’t get bad punnery with Top Chef.

Ted Allen as host: Sorry, I don’t buy it.  For some reason, he comes off as…well…strange.  While trying to inject some kind of tension into the show, his voice takes on a stern, automaton-like rhythm.  He falls prey to the Food Network Syndrome championing wholesome over interesting.  Sad thing is, I used to really like him on Top Chef and QEFTSG (don’t make me break down that acronym).

Judges: This is where Top Chef and Chopped begin to differ.  For every single episode of Chopped, there is a new panel of celebrity chef judges.  The episode I watched featured chef/internet talking head/Top Chef guest judge Scott Conant, chef Amanda Freitag, and NYC chef Geoffrey Zakarian.  Not a bad cast of characters whatsoever (although I could do without the “I’m listening to myself speak on TV” Conant), but the fact that they are immediately rotated out after this show is disappointing.  Who am I supposed to get to know?  The only thing that draws one to competition-based reality TV are the relationships between viewer and cast.  You’re with these people for weeks, and you feel their pain/experience the joy vicariously.  How else could anyone explain this behavior?

Contestants: This is the kind of show that makes me wonder how many times the show will reference itself.  How many times will a contestant turn to the camera and say, “Only 30 minutes?  This is impossible!”  We know it’s impossible, hence the “challenge” set-up.  Couldn’t the producers/editors find anything compelling?  I heard this twice last night: “I don’t want to be chopped!”  We know, that’s the whole point of the show.  Like the judges, there is little to no connection to these contestants.  You get to know them and *BOOM* they get CHOPPED.  POW!!!  Say goodbye, guy who couldn’t find a way to incorporate bananas with bacon and wontons.  Boo yah guy who put salt in a plum cake instead of sugar (WTF?!)!  Without any kind of formed relationships, this show is just an exercise in sucker-punching.

Baffling Network Incest: When watching my episode of Chopped, I noticed that one of the contestants was Einat Admony.  Which is strange.  Because she was featured on Bobby Flay’s Throwdown recently.  Why is she suddenly back in a contest for 10,000 dollars?  She beat Flay in a Throwdown, so isn’t it a given that she’ll murder her opponents and win the money?  Sounds fishy to me.

Music: Definitely stock material, can’t hold a candle to Top Chef’s drum n’ bass bubble.  Not to say they don’t try to emulate (or even directly copy) the style though.  Any reality competition show on Bravo uses cymbal and percussion strikes to enhance tension.  Once again, Food Network cribs those very flourishes.  Not.  Cool.

The Verdict: F is for FAIL.  The show’s utter lack of originality hurts it.  Making the contestants stand in the back room while the judges confer is just embarrassing.  It follows Top Chef’s formula shot-for-shot at times, and makes me wonder what Food Network’s future holds.  I’ll watch Ace of Cakes and Alton Brown material, but most of their new programming comes off as cloying or a direct rip-off.   It’s been a strange chain: Jacques Pepin and Julia Child begat the Food Network.  The Food Network begat Bravo’s and Travel Channel’s food shows, and now…well, we have Chopped and Ultimate Recipe Showdown.  Chopped just doesn’t measure up.  It leaves a bad taste in the mouth.  Chopped is the margerine to Top Chef’s butter.  Alright, that’s about as much terrible retributive word play I can dole out on a given day.

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44 Responses

  1. Baking and Mistaking

    Ok, I’ll admit, chopped is a pretty bad show.
    However, Top Chef is a lot closer in nature to Next Food Network Star, which, premiered before Top Chef did. So who’s ripping off who now?

  2. Cary

    As I said, it’s a confusing chain. Although I did present the fact that Food Network used the template set by Julia Child/Jacques Pepin, which Bravo in turn perfected. What was I talking about again?

    Oh yeah, Chopped is terrible.

  3. Alex

    Chopped is a terrible show. I’ve watched several episodes and really tried to give it a chance, but Bravo’s Top Chef is far more entertaining. Top Chef has better editing, photography, and directing. It feels like a high quality production. Chopped, on the other hand, feels like a lower budget, hastily produced show that has terrible scripts and an overall week concept. How many times do we need to hear the instructions? How many times to we need to see Ted Allen’s terrible performance? Chopped is almost as annoying as Iron Chef America and Bobby Flay.

    Food Network needs something new and innovative in order to survive. Maybe Alton Brown should go over to Bravo.

  4. Angel Elf

    Ted Allen is dull as dishwater and his monotone delivery sounds like a robot on Valium. Judge Alex Guarnaschelli is a total bitch with a piss poor attitude. I’ve eaten in her East Village spot and the food is nothing to write home about. Notice how her show The Cooking Loft is no longer on Food Network.

  5. Barbara

    I’ve watched several episodes of Chopped! and though I agree with the idea that the show doesn’t have enough substance to make a viewer attached to the cooks, I’m surprised so little has been said about the judges. The judges, in my estimation, are simply awful in their analysis and appraisal of the food put in front of them. Amanda Freitag, especially, constantly makes faces about the food she is tasting and seems to have something against too much “spice” in every food imaginable. A reality food show, and especially a reality competition food show, is held together by the judges themselves. We love Top Chef because not only do we learn about the contestants, but we learn about the judges. Who are these judges on Chopped! anyway? They watch cooks struggle to put together a decent meal in 20 to 30 minutes and then they sit there in an imperious, haughty (I am god’s gift to cooking) way and make snide comments about plating – as if, AS IF, they could do better in 20 minutes themselves. This is the part that I find unbelievable and in many ways a real letdown about this show. Like the viewers, the judges don’t really know the chefs/cooks that they’re watching. I guess we’re supposed to see this as all about the food – but would the judges put themselves out there and say “hey, don’t think about me, think only about my food” – probably not. Something in this show needs to be developed so that viewers invest their interest in the show. And that “something” could be the judges – bring back the same judges (or at least two of the same) consistently over the course of the show and then at the very least we could hate them with real gusto – instead of just sheer annoyance.

  6. Donna

    I gave this show a chance in the beginning, but stopped watching it after the episode where the contestant DROPPED THE FOOD ON THE FLOOR and then served it to the judges — and the judges knew and let him continue! Totally disgusting! I won’t be tuning in again.

  7. CJS

    Maybe if they replace judges Amanda and Alex, will give this show another shot. Also was “floored” they let the guy who dropped the food continue. Not pleasant to watch; finally gave up.

  8. hugh

    The show is ok. I do not care for the host much, but the judging really sets me off. The judges are very cultural incompetent when it comes to food. They always eliminate contestants who are proud of their ethnic cuisines and try to present to them. They also let contestants with nasty-looking food to win the show. How bizzare.

  9. Joe

    this show has a good concept but the judges are just so miserable and awful. i mean alex “whatever that bitch’s last name is” is sexist, rude, and just a major debbie downer. that other douchebag “rock star” chef who i cant remember his name is a pompous jerkoff. ted allen has a dick up his ass (which he probably likes). i mean the show just tries too hard to be good like the way they try to make it dramatic when they find a piece of shell or something in their food (queue scary music). lame

  10. Greg

    Y0u would watch Ace of Cakes? Why? Is there a more fraudulent food show on TV? It’s not a cooking show! It’s all about marzapan sculting … so what? We know nothing about the cakes … indeed, we don’t know if they cakes are purchased from somewhere else! We certainly have no indication what they taste like.

  11. Dawit Haile

    Dear Choppers,

    I am tired of watching the judges bias over the contestants. I do not need to give specific examples how your judging skills is unfair towards foreigners or non-whites. You guys can roll the tapes back- but the were times clearly the lady judge (which I can’t stand her) favorites this dude who didn’t respect the time to finish his dish not once, not twice but three times- If you present your dish unfinished, you are chopped. Period. You are supposed to judge the food not the race or ethnicity.

  12. Scott

    Just watched the episode where Alex “whatever her name is” found a hair in the contestant’s crepe dish. What do they expect when no one wears head covering. I’ve worked for 20 years in the food industry and I always wear a cap. The judges suck! All to busy greeting their celebrity guests or judging the hard work of others while forgetting where they came from.

  13. Spike

    Alex Guarnaschelli. What a total incompetent self centered person (polite). I would like to see this total fake earn a living from square one rather than relying on her parents. Her knowledge of food is so meagre it leaves me stunned.

  14. KPW

    i love the look on the judges faces when a contestant runs out of time or makes any other “mistake”. you would have thought someone just killed their kid!

  15. CaddieO

    Amanda Freibitch on Iron Chef? Rude to contestants on Chopped (nice face Amanda), how would she treat a unhappy patron in one of her poorly run establishments…I spoon full of sugar, goes a long way, and she’s not that good, just has a food network contract in place,

    Has no business being on Iron Chef…..Please

  16. Bella

    Guarnaschelli doesn’t belong on TV. Her personality is just mean and ugly. She comes across as very judgmental and angry, turning her nose up at everything.

    I can’t take this show seriously, it is a Mickey Mouse competition. The only reason to watch would be if you were desperate for a Top Chef fix and this was all that was available. Call it Top Clone instead.

  17. Mang

    Alex Guarnaschelli is a pompous fucking bitch. I can’t fucking stand this bitch, mang. Her cooking show is boring as fuck, and she has ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING CHARISMA. She’d never fucking make it on The Next Food Network Star, so why the fuck is she on the damn network? She has this snobbish air about her and her pompous attitude is just fucking tiring. Get rid of the fucking bitch, mang.

  18. Joe

    Alex Guarnaschelli is utterly worthless.

    She adds no value to the Food Network.

    If anything, her bourgie nature and aloof arrogance really has no place on any of the programming.

    Smug, arrogant, condescending … that’ll attract a sizeable tv audience.

    Her dead-pan expressions just suck the life out of the shows. I really don’t understand how her personality lends to successful tv programming.

  19. Will

    I think these judges are to harsh with their criticism. Two of the judges didn’t fair so well when they were in their respective contests. Frietag was eliminated from the Next Iron Chef and Zakarian was eliminated on Iron Chef America… their critique to me has no merit.

  20. jen

    Alex Guarnaschelli is such a rude bitch! I find it hilarious that most of the judges give the death stare to the contestants while they are eating. The way this show takes itself so seriously is too much.

  21. Marshall Banana

    Just found this after google searching: “Bitch Judge on Chopped” lol

    Can’t agree more with what is written. I have given Chopped chance after chance and I can’t stand the judges. While some people who posted don’t care for Iron Chef America, I just want to say the judges on Chopped are ICA rejects! Alex Guarnaschelli lost on ICA! I think the way she bitches at people on Chopped is just an ego stroking for her.

    I also can’t stand the obvious sexism in the show either. They had to have a show featuring all female chefs because of their inability to be equal opportunity! The chefs who make the “best food” in their opinion are always male (these also tend to be the chefs dropping food on the floor, burning stuff, or not completing dishes). I think a woman can be chopped for merely possessing a vagina.

    Alex wouldn’t want any possible competition either, now would she?

  22. wesley

    Dont know all the names of the judges but the baldy one that said the ham was not cut in UNIFORM pieces, what an idiot, is that the best you could come up with, us, private chefs in Beverly Hills are watching what you come up with,, you are as bad as the woman that judged and said the pork loin meat was not sliced all the way through, how was she supsed to eat it?
    Maybe she should use a knife. Its all about table manners,,, and eating with fork only, would guarantee you would not get invited to a dinner in the UK…sorry gal, I forgot your name, you knwo which one you are,, not Donnatella , we love her..Jeffrey Steingarten is just as bitchy.

  23. stargirl

    Geoffrey Zakarian seems to be prejudiced. Going to watch a few more shows to see if this feeling continues. Right now, it seems that anyone remotely ethnic is not trained, experienced or good enough for his cultured palate. It is a sort of European snobbery that comes across sneakily.

  24. steve

    Ted Allen??? Worst dressed gay in america. Lets see a battle of the judges. Wow can Scottie get over his fear of onoions,. Will Arrrrooon be able to concieve a dish with out chhhhilles, and frakly can any of these b*****s actually cook??

  25. rotti

    Chopped is the worst show on tv. Ted Allen has as much style as a brick and Alex is as cold as a fish in the bottom of my freezer. Bad bad bad!

  26. Rudy

    I just cannot believe the all of the kitchen no nos. A health inspector would not let one dish be served with all the cross contamation and fingers in the food. The best chefs seem to be the worst at mishandling the food? All the judges are really taking a chance eating the so called food. I wonder if they allow it in their resturants?

    By the way what is wrong with Mr. Brown? Hope he is not sick? I enjoy his shows.

  27. KC

    Top Chef–as with all Bravo shows–is an overproduced, super-shallow show that’s more about coming up with crazy but ultimately meaningless challenges than about food. At least Chopped focuses on how contestants conceptualize their dishes, and introduces us to new ingredients every challenge. The judges on both shows appear very arrogant, but the Chopped judges had the guts to participate in the challenges. Most of the Top Chef judges (save those who have appeared on Masters, and especially one Tom Colicchio) give no clue as to their cooking capabilities, and are really only there to preen on camera. If you want a show that is 99% drama and 1% food-related, watch Top Chef. If you want a show that has food front and center, watch Chopped.

  28. Lawrence in Phoenix

    I have to admit I’m addicted to this show for some crazy reason. But I hate, hate, hate the judges. Alex is a horrible person, Geoffrey is miserable, Aarón is just smarmy, Scott is a used car salesman. I get that they’re judging ridiculous combinations of food but for God’s sake, lighten up! “The flavors didn’t congeal effectively,” I actually heard a judge bitch. Seriously. How exactly do you expect lemon candy, duck yolks, beef tongue, and maple syrup to congeal, much less in 30 minutes? These idiots think they’re far more important than they really are.

    Why can’t I stop watching this??

  29. MR

    I’m so with you guys. I really like the premise of the show, and enjoy seeing what kinds of concoctions people come up with, but these judges are god-awful. They should be eternally banned from jury-duty for their lack of discernment. That one lady with the brown hair–I don’t know her name but based on what’s said about Alex, I’m guessing that’s her–is such a complete bitch. Aaron comes off as snooty and self-righteous. Those other guys are much the same. I can’t stand the looks on their faces and their high and mighty attitudes while judging. They should judge fairly (which they do not) but they certainly don’t need to humiliate the contestants like they do. It’s sickening to watch. And then they let people pass who didn’t even meet the full requirements of the challenge–to get all the ingredients on the plate…. They do tend to pick men over women. And sob stories over creative and tasty-looking food. I didn’t realize this was a competition of who’s the best cook after suffering the toughest life traumas. I can sympathize with people, but that’s not part of the show. (And I don’t have much respect for those contestants who bring up their ordeals to gain sympathy votes.)

    And they do come off racist, as well, although I see it from a different perspective than what others have mentioned. If anyone has some kind of so-called “ethnic” background, the judges seem to expect them to cook foods from their origin and criticize them for not being true to themselves when they don’t. Why does someone of orient descent HAVE TO cook asian food? And what makes them think that someone who looks a certain race or another is an expert in food of that origin? It’s a backwards sort of racism that still disgusts me nonetheless…. And it drives me totally up the wall when they say such arbitrary crap such as “there’s just no soul in your food.” Please. What would these judges know about having soul?

    If they would AT LEAST have some kind of criteria for judging, that would make a lot more sense. And it would help to have a better attitude, too.

  30. john

    Chopped is, in a catch phrase, simply terrible.

    Some of the contestants are a bit of a challenge but these judges, good God…., give me a break. They honestly think they’re all so freaking great and that their doo-doo doesn’t stink. Smart money says it’s so putrid it would choke a T-Rex and then some.

    Take this show and flush it, starting with the imperious, haughty judges. Please.

  31. Susan, IL

    So agree! What a bitch – will NEVER go ANYWHERE AG may be involved and am in NYC several times each year. Chopped is the WORST Food Network program.

  32. foodnetworkfan

    This show is entertaining, but what a joke. Contestants try their best to make high-quality dishes on the spot, and the judges …lol…what is there to say about these Iron Chef rejects? I wish the Food Network would go a different route instead of bringing their sub par contestants from different challenge shows back as “experts”.


    I agree with many of the comments. Now I will give my chicken s%$# dime store opinion!
    The judges are for the most part: Rude, obnoxious, bitches, pricks, and all around douche bags! The judge I hate the most is Scott “Inventor of Pasta” Conant, thee pompous asshole thinks he is God’s gift to Italian food and actually believes he is the only person in the world who can boil pasta! With him knowing that, I wonder if he invented all the utensils for preparing pasta too. Geoffery Zakarian is # 2, in the beginning of the show where they show him holding up a chili and asking: “What are we supposed to do with these? I let him know exactly what to do with that chili every time! Hey Geoffery “SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS!” Alex and Amanda are just two rude CUNTS! Nothing more to say. The saving grace’s for the judges are Aaron Sanchez and Mark Murphy. Those two have some class when they give their analysis, they are nice about it and when they are disappointed or mistakes are made, they don’t ridicule as the others. I’ve really grown sick of the show too!

  34. FNW Fan

    I just started watching the show and have watched about 8-9 episodes and in every episode featuring Geoffrey he is condescending and frankly IMHO unduly judgmental against the ethnic contestants. He seems to come accross as better than though and thank goodness there are 2 other judges who seem to see reason and vote against him. To hear him arguing is laughable, when it’s so clearly prejudicial. I don’t know why Food Network continues to invite him back. I do enjoy the show better when he isn’t on the panel.

    I really hope he doesn’t when Next Iron Chef Super Chef. He would have to purchase a new home just to house his ego. Nit sure if anyone is watching that show, but he is way over the top. So looking forward to him going home SOON!

  35. John

    Here a twist after the contestant are judged then they become the judge .and lets see how it feels and perform for the celeblety chef to be judge and come up with a all star dish in a unrealistic time i would to see that

  36. Kyle

    are you people out of your minds?

    Alex Guarnaschelli is a bitch because she’s a female chef. you have to have seriously thick skin to be able to make it in such a male-dominated position. What’s more, Guarnaschelli is seriously passionate about food and doesn’t tolerate the massacre of it. If you think chopped is a bad show, try being served a random series of ingredients with a time limit like that. I suppose it’s a show that is only interesting to actual cooks? In culinary school we had competitions very much like the show and honestly i think it’s one of the better shows on FN. For those of you saying Chopped is the worst show on food network, go f#ck yourselves, seriously. Rachael Ray. Guy Fieri. Case closed.

  37. Yawn

    I have less to say about the judging and more about the annoyingly predictable format. Every single episode plays out exactly the same. They critique the food… Say what they like… Then the awful grim music because they are saying something negative. No shit they’re going to find negatives.. But do they have to dramatize it with the serial killer movie music? Every single contestant every single episode the same thing.. Really annoys me.

    And the timing bothers me the most.. I’m not watching an episode of Dallas that there needs to be a cliffhanger before every stupid commercial. Give me a break here… I ALWAYS change the channel then because I am tired of TV shows with their formulaic cliffhanger service.

    Do us a favor and complete this section all in one to… Tell us who has been chopped this round… Then tease the next round.. I might just stick around for once.

    Suck it!

  38. Noneya

    lol they been complaining about it for years now and it is still around. I recently grew to hate it cause it got boring to me and became same old same old


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