Not every ingredient is a delight in the Chopped Kitchen — some are more difficult than others and contestants must deal with them as best they can. What Chopped judges look for in those cases is a dish that expertly combines a less-desirable ingredient with the rest of the basket ingredients. Facing the same appetizer basket as the contestants from Chopped: Hoofin’ It, judges Marc, Maneet and Aarón took up spots in the Chopped Kitchen for an After Hours competition where they cooked with butter beans, sweet potato chips, coleslaw mix and pickled pig’s feet.
On the show, the chef competitors did their best with the baskets they were dealt, but some didn’t transform every single ingredient to its full potential. Marc, Maneet and Aarón immediately jumped into the cooking, diving right into working with the pig’s feet, which required the most care to transform. The goal was to incorporate the pig’s feet while also disguising any of the ingredient’s negative attributes.
It’s my turn this week to take you behind the scenes of our new show, The Kitchen. On behalf of Geoffrey, Katie, Jeff and Sunny, I’d like to tell you how absolutely grateful we are for the feedback, ideas, photos, recipes and love you’ve sent our way. All five of us, along with what has to be one of the best production crews I’ve ever worked with, are constantly looking for and debating what topics, recipes and ideas you would find most interesting.
Personally, I want you to walk away from each show feeling like you have learned something — like it was worth sharing your hour with us. We all have very different perspectives on food and cooking, and, I think, that’s what’s so great about The Kitchen; at one point or another, someone is going to say something that you connect with.
I’m injecting this show with two syringes: la mom and, because it’s in my DNA, la Mexican. It’s remarkable how even though I’ve dedicated my life to food, I’m still stumped every once in a while about what to put on the table for Fau (aka Fausto, my son). Anybody can buy a rotisserie chicken and make some tacos (often dinner at this casa), but what if you don’t even have time to go to the grocery store and get the darn chicken? What if, more than once a week, it’s like a Chopped episode and you just open up the pantry praying that you’ve got enough in there to whip up something good and nutritious for your family?
On last night’s episode of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, the celebrities entered Fairway Market in Woodland Park, N.J., for a challenge that involved cooking and creating their own food product to market to shoppers. The goal of the challenge, as Rachael and Guy emphasized, was for each celebrity to turn out a product that best represented his or her own personality. Once the celebrities were ready to serve, they handed out samples and vied for votes from shoppers, using any sales tactic that would work: Judy cracked Jewish mother jokes. Jake broke out the dance moves. Tiffany turned up the ’80s flair. And Penn talked up his food product like a pro salesman.
For the first time this season, an MVP was chosen from each team and a $2,500 donation awarded to each winner’s charity. Penn was named the MVP of Team Rachael and Herschel was named MVP for Team Guy. But unfortunately, that still meant one celebrity had to be sent home.
While competitors may not know the dishes they’ll be tasked with cooking on Cutthroat Kitchen, or the specifics of the challenges that will befall them in battle, a few things are certain about the contest: Chefs will sabotage each other and be sabotaged in return. It’s how contestants cope that will ultimately determine the success of their food, and while much of their adaptation involves recipe tweaks and ingredient swap-outs, it also requires strategy in bidding and the assigning of a particular sabotage once it’s been earned.
On this week’s episode of Cutthroat Kitchen, Chef Leah wasted no time in gifting a doozy of a challenge to all three of her rivals during Round 1’s quesadilla test. She paid a whopping $6,900 to force the other competitors to use a high-powered work lamp, a kitchen torch and a hair-straightening flat iron as their sole heat sources. “So, at this point, Chef Leah is hated by almost everyone universally. When the mid-challenge item came up, it was almost a fait accompli that somebody would make sure she got it,” Alton revealed to judge Simon Majumdar on the host’s After-Show. Sure enough, as a form of evilicious retribution, she was tasked with making two pitchers of margaritas using a human-powered blender attached to a bicycle, so she ultimately learned the sting of sabotage as she peddled to make the motor run. “But in the end, I don’t know how bad it hurt her,” Alton explained to Simon. Not only did Chef Leah survive the round, but she went on to win the entire competition after outcooking her rivals in rounds of chicken noodle soup and fish fries.
Just this morning on a brand-new episode of The Kitchen, co-hosts Sunny Anderson and Geoffrey Zakarian showed off a duo of recipes for the humble chicken wing. This game-day favorite is a blank canvas for almost all ingredients, but often one of two tastes ends up reigning supreme: spicy or sweet. While both Geoffrey and Sunny deep-fried their wings until the skin was deliciously crispy and the meat juicy, Geoffrey opted for a slightly spicy rendition with piquillo peppers and cumin in his BBQ Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Butter, and Sunny celebrated the sweeter flavor of pomegranate juice and hoisin sauce in her Sticky Onion Crunch Wings. Both finished wings proved deliciously sticky, but Geoffrey’s featured smoky notes while Sunny’s were subtly sweet without losing their savory bite.
Before you pick which team you’re rooting for in this year’s big game, FN Dish is challenging you to select which side you’re on in the great debate of sweet versus spicy chicken wings. Cast your vote below to tell us which flavor profile you prefer, then find party-ready recipes for both kinds of wings after the jump.
While watching the Season 1 finale of Guy’s Grocery Games this Sunday at 8pm/7c, you know to expect some of the craziest challenges. When Guy sends the contestants out to shop for their ingredients, he pretty much springs anything on them, whether it’s a challenge that requires them to cook only with frozen ingredients or a shopping trip where they must gather everything without using carts.
This weekend get some great ideas for home cooking with new episodes from Ree, Trisha, Rachael, Giada and Jeff. They’ve got everything from cooking with pantry staples to making meals on a budget. Guy gets in the kitchen with Chef Duskie Estes to make a taco dinner, plus he’s got a taco challenge for the contestants on the finale of Guy’s Grocery Games. Also on this weekend is a new episode of The Kitchen, where the hosts give a tour of their personal pantries and make their favorite wing recipes. Plus, there’s a new episode of Cutthroat Kitchen in which one chef must use a work light to cook his or her quesadillas.
From a filthy interior to seemingly indifferent management, the problems at Spunky Monkey Bar and Grill in Auburn, Wash., were many, and it was up to Robert Irvine and his Restaurant: Impossible team to decipher and ultimately fix them one by one if the business was to have any chance at future success. Over the course of two days and with a budget of only $10,000, Robert overhauled the interior of the eatery, redesigned the menu and worked with owner Donel Brinkman to implement positive changes that ultimately allowed her to reopen Spunky Monkey to a packed crowd. Read on below for an exclusive interview with Donel and find out how her business is faring a few months later.
“Customers are thrilled with the design (as are we),” Donel says of the diners’ reactions to Spunky Monkey’s transformation, “and we are receiving great commentary on the transition.”
The Chopped Dinner Challenge is a series of recipes showing you how easy it is to cook like a winning Chopped competitor. Every week, FN Dish will showcase a recipe created by Food Network Kitchens that uses at least one of the Chopped basket ingredients, plus basic grocery goods and simple staples. Consider it your very own Chopped challenge. Just take this frequent tip from the judges: Don’t forget to season!
For this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchens chose to feature the basket ingredient piquillo peppers, which you’ve probably seen in jars on the supermarket shelf or in salad bars. These peppers have a pleasant sweet taste, so no heat, and even though they’re relatively small in size (the name means “little beak” in Spanish), they’re actually great for stuffing. Consider this recipe for Quinoa-Stuffed Piquillo Peppers a great tapas-style appetizer or light meal. The quinoa is packed with protein and the raw zucchini salsa is full of flavor. But best of all, the dish is simple to prepare, taking only 30 minutes.