Tag Archives: Chopped

My Reality Bites

I was carbo-loading on the couch in preparation for a “Chopped” marathon on Food Network when I realized that as much as I love my food competition shows, they’re not exactly “reality” shows.

Considering my smoke alarm often doubles as a kitchen timer, it probably comes as no surprise that they’re the opposite of the “reality” of my kitchen:

If there are more than five steps or ingredients, I’m out.

If a recipe requires me to incorporate another recipe or let something sit for more than 30 minutes before including it, I’m out.

If it relies on me trusting my appliances, I’m out.

My non-stick pans are questionable on the understanding of their job description, and I’ve learned a watched pot never boils, but if I turn my back for .4 seconds it will spill out and onto the stove.

And my toaster?

Sometimes the handle won’t stay down, therefore negating the actual toasting it is pressed into service to do. So I stand there muttering something along the lines of, “Well, aren’t WE the defiant little bastard today” until my bread comes out unevenly browned and bitter at the forced interaction.

(I’ve tried a different approach with, “Yes, take your time. I’ll just hold the handle down while you decide what you’d like to do with this bread.” That worked a bit better, but now the crumb tray refuses to stay securely fastened to the bottom.)

Even though it rarely takes me more than 15 minutes to make a meal anyway, everything on these shows is about being timed. Can’t find a knife? Use your teeth to separate that raw chicken! There are only 10 SECONDS LEFT!!!

Whereas I make an emergency run to the store when I get down to one head of broccoli, these cooks never have the ingredients they—or any normal person rooted in reality—would normally use together.

“For the dessert round, you have to use unicorn horn, pancetta, pink currants and crème fraiche.”

Really? I couldn’t make a great dessert if I was given anything other than the recipe, the ingredients and possibly Florian Bellanger, “Cupcake Wars” judge/pastry expert who expects contestants to make 1,000 cupcakes in two hours.

And seeing the less-than-hygienic things that go on in these kitchens makes me twitchy.

No, the secret ingredient is not elephant garlic. It’s sweat. And I wonder how anyone can eat anything presented.

Then there’s the dialogue.

I might talk to myself—and occasionally the testy toaster—but the judges on these shows flap their hands around in the final seconds of a round yelling, “Just get something on the plate!” while the hosts tries to talk to contestants moving really fast in an attempt to “just get something on the plate!”

Then there’s the judging itself in which the meal made from the juice of exotic olives and chocolate from Pluto in less than 20 minutes on a grill (plot twist!) results in them being told they’re on the chopping block and not the Next Top Iron Master Chef.

All that work and pressure and they don’t even eat what they make, which might not be a bad thing if they seasoned it with perspiration and possibly snot.

At any rate, it’s a good thing I like my food simple and fresh. It leaves me more time to sit on the couch yelling at the TV in my best Gordon Ramsay accent about how NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO MAKE RISOTTO while fishing out a piece of asparagus I dropped in the cushion.


I actually found this in the couch a couple days ago.

Call me Food Network. Let’s talk.

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The Negotiator

The other day I came home to a chipmunk domestic in my yard. It was like COPS: Small Woodland Creature edition, minus the mini wife beater tanks and camera crew.


Considering there was plenty of food under the feeder for all to enjoy, it made me wonder what could tick off these little buggers so much that they would scream and chase each other around the yard. Does he always leaves the seat up? Does she only cook up corn? 

Yes, I spent a few moments pondering this.

Perhaps I’ve just been watching CSI: NY for too long. It’s pretty much the only “serious” show that I’ll watch on TV, due in part to the fact I feel a special connection with Gary Sinise after he and his Lt. Dan Band—yes, it’s a thing—were the entertainment at a Halloween party about five years ago.

But I do like the characters and the show, despite the fact each episode would only last about 20 minutes if you took away the music and shots of the medical examiner looking fascinated every time he picked up a scalpel (accompanied by aforementioned music.)

While I don’t live in New York and am fairly confident that I’m not part of an underground Mafia ring, I am a little hyperaware of certain things.

I think people sitting in their cars in empty parking lots look creepy—even if they’re just taking a lunch break, going into a bank makes me feel like I’m part of “Oceans 11” minus the hot guys and I assume anyone who pulls up behind me at an ATM is the Unibomber out for a jaunt.

But if (god forbid) something did every happen to me, I’m pretty sure I would be the world’s worst hostage.

The perps would most likely “remove me from the situation” quickly or surrender to authorities ASAP, preferring jail to my incessant requests to get home in time to watch the new “Chopped.”

Along with the wrath of me missing my TV show, they would have to contend with the fact I drink water all the time. Drinking water all the time combined with a bladder the size of a Cheerio means I have to go to the bathroom every five minutes.

And hell hath no fury if this “situation” falls within any of the five windows during the day in which I engage in my feedings.

If for some reason things did get carried away and a ransom note was required, the criminal would have to let me put my artistic OCD skills to use in cutting out all the letters from magazines myself. In addition, I would need to edit and possibly revise said ransom note before it could be sent out to authorities.

If it has my name on it, I want it to look good.

At any rate, the news description of what I was wearing when I went missing would probably cause my family to pretend they don’t know who I am. “Yoga pants, a sweatshirt and a streak of hummus in her hair? Nope, I don’t know her.”

That would be unfortunate, because I’m pretty sure the criminal would ante up funds simply to send me away if my above requirements weren’t met. After all, I have chipmunks to feed, and apparently you don’t want to piss those guys off.

You never know what they can do.

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If You Can’t Take The Heat

Despite the fact that my cooking style is not a style at all, I love food shows like “Restaurant: Impossible,” “Unwrapped” and those that are competition-related.

I admit I enjoy seeing people running around kitchens and getting judged on things that will never happen in real life—like creating 1,000 cupcakes in two hours or seeing the Iron Chef chairman back-flip into the kitchen with a sword and orders to cook a whole meal with a walnut.

I also realize they’re bit ridiculous, so I’ve included a few things you can expect to see almost every episode from a couple of them that I watch.


When it comes to American Gordon Ramsay shows, I prefer “Kitchen Nightmares,” but the new season of “Hell’s Kitchen” just started.  The gist is 18 competitors subject themselves to verbal abuse and backstabbing manipulation in an attempt to cook their way into a head chef position at one of Ramsay’s restaurants.

With his reputation on the line, Gordon doesn’t take any of the bull crap. This produces a lot of colorful dialogue, gourmet dishes and the illusion that the cooks have learned something other than British profanity.

  • When actually asked to cook, contestants suddenly forget how to boil water and Gordon will throw things at them.
  • Someone will overcook fish and undercook rice, crimes ranking second only to “being a cow” in the world of Ramsay.
  • Gordon will yell, “Shut it down!” in the middle of the service.
  • Gordon will yell, “This is raw! You’re going to kill somebody!”
  • Gordon will yell that every service is “the worst dinner service in history!”
  • Contestants will sell out their mother in a dramatic tribal counsel-like elimination ceremony in an effort to not have their picture burned as the show fades to the closing credits.
  • When dramatically forced to give over their apron, the eliminated chef will say, “you haven’t seen the last of me.” You will have seen the last of them.

Moral of the story: It’s scripted and over the top, but until the British versions of Ramsay’s shows are available OnDemand, I take what I can get.

Also, don’t ever make a mistake or Gordon will throw it at you.


Four chefs compete before a panel of three expert judges to create a three-course meal in under 30 minutes or so with “mystery ingredients” found in a basket. Once they’re done, they present each course to the unenthused judges and one chef gets chopped. The winner gets $10,000.

  • First of all, the secret ingredient in every single dish is sweat. Although entertaining to watch, you’ll be completely grossed out and wonder how anyone can eat anything presented.
  • Whoever creates the basket is a sadistic bastard. “For the dessert round, you have to use unicorn horn, pancetta, pink currants, crème fraiche.” Really?
  • At least one contestant will bring up the fact they’re self-taught, are competing for a dying relative or that they “didn’t come here to lose.” (That’s probably a good competition strategy.)
  • One of the judges will flap their hands around in the final seconds of a round yelling, “just get something on the plate!” and then bitch about whatever ended up on the plate.
  • The host—Ted Allen—will inevitably try to talk to a contestant while they are moving really fast, get in their way and stress them out even more.
  • After forgetting to use a required ingredient or stabbing Ted when he tried to talk to them, a contestant will angrily blame the judges, the oven or the contestants for losing.
  • When interviewed, they will say, “you haven’t seen the last of me.” You will have seen the last of them.

Moral of the story: The only way I could compete on this show is if the basket ingredients were avocado, sprouted grain bread and Bobby Flay himself.

So spill it—do you watch any food shows? If not, what’s the one thing you would cook if you were put on the spot?


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