Chopped remains a strong cooking competition, although it’s one I tend to watch only when there are very special episodes. Those include the quasi-spin-off seasons, like the all-star competition currently airing on Sunday nights; themed episodes, which are usually show up around holidays; or episodes that have a certain type of chef, like those who are all kids or lunch ladies. I’m also endlessly entertained by the ways the show avoids using brand names (“crunchy cheese curls” or, my personal favorite, “sugared marshmallow treats” instead of Peeps).
Last night’s episode was special in that it featured baskets created by viewers, and they were, in a word, sadistic. “We gave you the power, and in return, some of your choices were positively cruel,” Ted Allen said at the top of the episode. Each round had ingredients suggested by viewers on various social media sites:
Pinterest, for the appetizer: durian, lime gelatin, imitation crab meat, and crunchy cheese curls.
Facebook, for entree: whole chicken in a can, canned clam chowder, potato tots, skirt steak
Twitter, for dessert: kale, fruit cocktail, cottage cheese, marrow bones
The suggestions from viewers were, I presume, curated by producers, who are ultimately to blame. Still, judging by the lists above, it’s clear Pinterest users are the most evil, of course. At the start of that round, one chef said, “I hate you, viewers,” and Ted Allen added, “so do they.” The durian was particularly egregious, and apparently smelled literally like hot garbage.
At the end of the episode, Ted Allen told the judges, “these chefs were put through the ringer by our viewers,” and as Scott Conant reminded him, the judges were, too: “It was a rough day as far as the baskets were concerned, for everybody,” he said.