When 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
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?
What are some of the most-used ingredients?
Bacon, bacon, bacon!
What are some of the least-used ingredients?
What’s in the “molecular section” of the pantry?
Sodium alginate, calcium chloride, agar agar, isomalt, xanthum gum and tapioca maltodextrin
What 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.