“Use a little or a lot; I heard Ted say it before,” Marc Murphy told substitute host Alex Guarnaschelli during tonight’s premiere episode of Chopped After Hours. He and his competitors, fellow judges Aarón Sánchez and Chris Santos, opted to use only one portion of what was unquestionably the out-of-place ingredient in tonight’s mystery basket: coconut-chocolate bars. With just 30 minutes to cook an entree with the candy, plus pink beans, sofrito and striped bass, the guys didn’t have time to incorporate the bar as a whole, so they picked out of it elements that would be successful in their dishes. For Marc, who in a risky maneuver set off to make a cassoulet, and Chris, who prepared a Thai-style soup, it was the coconut center that was the chosen fraction; Aarón picked out the almonds to feature in his Louisiana-inspired plate of fish and grits.
What do you think of the judges using only a select portion of a mystery basket ingredient? Although doing so may indeed be battling within the rules, should they have worked harder to utilize the candy bar as a whole, or does its unusualness make up for the fact that it wasn’t incorporated fully? If a contestant had done that during competition, would the judges have been as accepting of his or her dish?