Photo Tour: Behind the Scenes of the Chopped Kitchen

by in Shows, April 26th, 2013

Food Network's Chopped KitchenWhen it comes to cooking on Chopped, much is made of each round’s mystery baskets, filled with four unusual and often disparate ingredients that chefs are required to incorporate into their dishes. While these oddball picks are, of course, what add deliciously addictive intrigue and drama to the show, it takes more than just a spread of peanut brittle, Marsala wine, durian and wonton wrappers to outcook the chopping block. If the competitors want to survive three rounds of intense culinary battle, they must utilize next-level appliances and advanced tools, in addition to a myriad of common and eccentric products alike, to transform the basket ingredients and create a winning plate.

To make sure competitors can do that as efficiently as possible within the short amount of time they have to cook, the culinary team that works Chopped has outfitted each chef’s prep station with ready-to-go equipment and stocked the pantry and refrigerator with almost every ingredient imaginable. FN Dish was curious about those supplies and wanted to know what kinds of ingredients are awaiting the chefs in the multiple nooks and crannies of Chopped Kitchen, so we turned to the culinary producer of the show to answer questions and provide an insider’s look at the set. Find out what she had to say below, then get an exclusive look at the kitchen, peek inside the refrigerator and see what’s on pantry shelves by browsing behind-the-scenes photos.

About how many ingredients are stocked in the pantry and refrigerator?
About 70 in fridge and about 200 in pantry

Food Network's Chopped Kitchen

What pans, tools and equipment come standard on each chef’s workstation?
Under the station: 4 saute pans, 1 stock pot, 3 saucepans, 1 sautoir pan, 3 mixing bowls, a cutting board and paper towels

Top of station: Cutting boards, wine key, Y peeler, meat thermometer, utensil bin, plating spoon and tasting spoon, 2 side towels, pepper grinder, kosher salt, ground pepper, extra virgin olive oil and canola oil

What kinds of oils, vinegars, flours, nuts and chocolates are in the pantry?
Oils: Sesame, roasted peanut, peanut, grapeseed, extra virgin olive oil and canola
Vinegars: Mirin, white wine, red wine, balsamic, sherry, Champagne, cider and rice
Nuts: Almonds and pine nuts
Flours: All-purpose, gluten-free all-purpose, rice and almond
Chocolate: Milk, dark, white, cocoa powder and cocoa nibs

Do the pantry ingredients change depending on the basket ingredients?
No

What are some of the most-used ingredients?
Bacon, bacon, bacon!

What are some of the least-used ingredients?
Molecular products

What’s in the “molecular section” of the pantry?
Sodium alginate, calcium chloride, agar agar, isomalt, xanthum gum and tapioca maltodextrin

Food Network's Chopped KitchenWhat are the most-modernist appliances available on set?
Anti-griddle, Cryovac, immersion circulator and smoking gun

Do the competitors bring their own knives to use, or are knives supplied?
We ask them to bring their own — most chefs want to. Only seven are allowed.

Where’s the most-remote place you’ve gone to source an ingredient? What was the ingredient?
Wandering the streets of Jackson Heights, N.Y., searching for goat brains.

Is anything set up for the chefs before the rounds begin? It looks like there are already pots heating on the stove and water boiling.
Ovens and blast chiller is on; water is boiling.

Tune in to round 4 of Chopped All-Stars on Sunday, April 28 at 9pm/8c, and don’t miss Chopped After Hours on FoodNetwork.com/Chopped following the brand-new episode on Tuesday, April 30 at 10pm/9c.

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Comments (57)

  1. Ralf says:

    How long is the average judging time each round? We know there is much more discussion than we see on air. Also how do the contestants make their comments?? Is that done by watching a video replay?

    • Goodgriff says:

      I've always wondered about these things too. What would be great is if a former contestant would write an article about the experience so we could see what goes on from start to finish.

      • PJA says:

        That would be great. I'd love to read that…have always wondered those things, too. The only beef (pun intended) I have with the show is that they make the chefs prep the food, as well. I realize it's a competition, but what with the funky basket ingredients and very short time to cook, making them prep a pig's head, etc. is just too much. I think the chefs could really showcase their true COOKING and creativity skills with the funky ingredients and time factor; making them practically butcher a pig, too, seems to be too much.

    • EMR says:

      Each judging and tasting segment for each chef lasts an average of 30 minutes in real time. I am an editor on the show and I have to go through these diligently with the producer to capture the essence of the critique. Thank you for watching!

  2. frost girl says:

    This is a good start, I still long for a Behind the Scenes one hour special, hosted by Ted with the crew interviewed! I want to know so many things about Chopped.

  3. Guest says:

    There is a meat thermometer on the cooking stations. I have never seen one used on the show and wonder why not, since many dishes end up over- or undercooked. Possibly it is a time issue and they just try to go by experience.

  4. Kevin says:

    Is Ted, the host, a fourth judge? I often hear him chiming in with questions and comments during the deliberations. Does he food taste as well?

    • PJA says:

      I had wondered that, too; then I noticed that the chefs have to have 4 plates available. My husband and I figure that the fourth is for Ted to taste a little, so he can participate in the conversation and the plate is then also used for the plate under the chopping block. Ted, to my knowledge, isn't an actual judge, though. Just the host. Btw, I love Ted…he is so kind and kick-butt host!

    • jessica says:

      no he is not a judge, but is a moderator, and is responsible for keeping the show moving

  5. Kevin says:

    Are the voice overs done after the show has been filmed? It's amazing that a contestant will make a comment about something and then you hear the judge make a similar comment or vice-versa. I love the show, but Zacharian can REALLY be rude. I can deal with the others. You would think, with all my watching, that I cook. Nada!

    • Matthew says:

      I disagree. Geoffrey Zakarian is an Iron Chef, he has high expectations of contestants like any other judge. Marc Murphy can be rude but if you were on Chopped wouldn't you have high expectations?

  6. BillW says:

    Friend of a friend recently won, I know she watched as many shows as she could find to map out where items were in the kitchen. I was hoping to get a chance to grill her on my questions. I do know it is a very long day from start to finish, but wonder how much time from presenting to the results passes.

    There used to be a show, '1-2-3 Cook', where a chef and a guest were on, and the guest was given money to go buy food. Used to love that show, but Chopped is so much better.

    I have a nephew and niece that are chefs in the same restaurant and asked if they would want to be on the show. They yelled NO.

  7. Matthew says:

    My favourite judge has to be Alex Guarnaschelli

  8. Jennifer says:

    I am absolutely addicted to this show… I watch at least two episodes every night before bed…. Their are so many things that could be done to keep this show going strong… For instance more episodes of just normal everyday people, not necessarily chefs… everyone cooks and all at different levels but food is all good. Some of the best food you will find at a pitch in dinner….

    I also love how they are starting to pull in network stars and other contestants from other shows on the network..

  9. Ruby Eagle says:

    My mom & I love Chopped! What I find the most interesting is the secret ingredients. Where does the show come up with such strange & interesting ingredients? I've never heard of some of the basket ingredients.

    • freebyrd_96 says:

      I LOVE watching Chopped too, It's one of my favorites on Foodnetwork. I too like seeing what they get for ingredients, I love watching everything except the commercials, Ha Ha !!

  10. Marty says:

    I have always had issues with food processors but the one they use on CHOPPED simply kicks ass! I believe it is cuisinart but I want to know the specific model! I also see the knives hanging on the magnetic strips but they are never used..do the chefs bring in ALL of their own knives?

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