What’s the Most-Common Mistake Made in the Chopped Kitchen?

by in Shows, April 13th, 2013

Geoffrey Zakarian, Alex Guarnaschelli, Amanda Freitag and Ted AllenWeek after week, Chopped fans tune in to watch four eager chef competitors take their places in the kitchen for a chance to outcook the chopping block and score the coveted title of Chopped Champion. Not only facing off against each other, the contestants battle baskets full of mystery ingredients like shad roe sacks, black garlic, pig ears and duck hearts — products and produce that are so unusual that some chefs have neither seen nor tasted them before in their career.

Working with such oddball selects surely invites a host of unique problems, including overcooked proteins and underdone grains, but the most-common mistake made among chefs isn’t one resulting from obscure ingredients. Instead, it’s something that trips up even home cooks as they prepare everyday meals for their families.

Speaking to a crowd at the Borgata Hotel Spa & Casino in Atlantic City, longtime Chopped judge Geoffrey Zakarian said that the most-prominent error in competitors’ dishes is seasoning. No stranger to the highs and lows in the Chopped kitchen, he’s tasted his share of meals that have proved to be near disasters simply because chefs used too little of two of the most-basic ingredients found in restaurant and home kitchens alike: salt and pepper. “Nobody puts salt and pepper in their food,” he said. “Amazing. Shocking.”

What cooking conundrums do you struggle with in the kitchen? Tell FN Dish in the comments below.

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Comments (42)

  1. Chef Duncan says:

    Um! Hi. I am the chef of a food truck that serves a restaurant sized menu in the keeps of a re-purposed UPS truck. I am nestled at a brewery that is ever growing and has what we call a tap room. I serve barbecue, soups, salads, wraps, burgers, sandwiches, and a tree tiered special every week at a brewery five days a week, I also have an extensive catering menu to be made. I will be doing special events all throughout my surrounding areas.

    I am starting to serve lunches with a vast distribution ratio as we deliver via another vehicle. I am a health nut as I know that processed foods are what is causing so much decay in the way of Americans health. I make almost every menu item by hand. The truck is very successful so far. I like to season my food very lightly as I use chili peppers and other tangy ingredients to season my dishes. I use very little salt and even less pepper and offer my audience pepper and salt to their tastes as well as hot sauces.

    I am sure one day I will contend on chopped as it is on my bucket list. My problem is that I am under staffed and the owners of the brewery seem to think I am a genie, as they have no previous experience in the food and beverage industry. It is hard to make a name in this business when your supplier is insufficient in their ability to stock your needed food. I find myself having to prepare every dishes ingredients on the fly.

    I am working over 10 to 14 hours a day. I can't even train my staff properly because we are to busy prepping all the ingredients. I must say though through this competition against my own proprietors I will gain the strength to win any challenge. Can you imagine telling two other people how to make a recipe while working a recipe yourself to create a menu item at the same time.

    All I know is that my customers are amorous of the food I make and we are getting busier by the day. I can't wait to have the time to rely put some incredible dishes together as I am running off my own recipes right now. Look out chopped I am coming and my competitors will just want to do the dishes that I touch. Really I think I am being to humble because salt and sugar are over rated.

  2. Kropotkin9102 says:

    Beer Here episode-did any notice Bradley drinking from the beer bottles and then using beer from the bottle to cook. Judges never said a word…

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