by Ricky Smith in Shows, July 7th, 2015
by Ricky Smith in Shows, June 16th, 2015
Things got fishy tonight on an all-new Chopped
when Ted Allen announced that the entree basket would contain something known as trash fish, or porgy — a type of fish that used to be a cast-off. That along with olive tapenade, blood oranges and vermicelli (rice) noodles made up the required ingredients, which proved challenging. Amanda Freitag, Marc Murphy and Geoffrey Zakarian took on the basket during a new installment of Chopped After Hours
Amanda’s plan gets off to a rough start as she tries to deep-fry the rice noodles and realizes they’re not getting crisp. She makes some adjustments to speed up the process. “I cranked this, too, because I know my other chef competitors, they would like to use the fryer as well,” she says. “Look how considerate I am!” Geoffrey is convinced otherwise, asking where she put his pink peppercorns, which are actually on the ledge above his stove.
by Ricky Smith in Shows, June 2nd, 2015
There was no escaping smoky flavors on tonight’s episode of Chopped
, as each basket contained barbecue-themed ingredients. That was no problem for judges Amanda Freitag, Marc Murphy and Maneet Chauhan as they dug into the entree basket after the competitors left the set. On an all-new Chopped After Hours
, they took on some classic ‘cue ingredients: North Carolina BBQ sauce, avocado, rainbow chard and spareribs.
“The other barbecue sauce, you’re kind of stuck going down one road,” Marc says. “Here you can go maybe more on the Asian side or probably maybe Indian direction.” Everyone else agrees that they are happy about the choice of sauce. Maneet ends up going in a completely different direction, trying her hand at making a Brazilian stew called feijoada. It includes rice, which she decides to make in the microwave. Ted thinks it’s a great time-saver, saying “I don’t know why more people don’t do that!”
by Joseph Erdos in Shows, May 26th, 2015
Things got spicy on tonight’s episode of Chopped
, with all of the baskets packing some heat — including dessert. While most would be hesitant to make something sweet from a basket full of fiery foods, the Chopped judges — Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Murphy and Maneet Chauhan — handled it flawlessly, using some very out-of-the-box combinations after the episode ended. On an all-new Chopped After Hours
, they try their hand at the dessert round with chile pepper honey, devil’s food tres leches cake, pink lemons and canary melon.
“You’ve got to make sure you taste your ingredients before you cook with them,” Marc says as he coughs from the heat of the chile pepper honey. When Ted points out that he can assure Marc the canary melon is not hot and will offer some relief, Marc doubts his assurance, saying, “Well, maybe — you know — in the Chopped basket they might have infused the hot in here somehow. They might have put, like, a syringe in here!”
by Joseph Erdos in Shows, March 31st, 2015
Four celebrated chefs made it into tonight’s Chopped All-Stars finale, taking on the mystery baskets for a chance to win $75,000 for charity. The appetizer round presented them with fish carcass, tasso ham, Calabrian chiles and purple potatoes. And after the episode, judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Geoffrey Zakarian and Scott Conant decided to take on those same baskets. “It’s always a blast when you all leave the judging table,” Ted tells the judges. “It’s a blast for you, because you get to point and laugh at us,” Scott replies. “I think after all this time these might be my two favorite boyfriends that I have,” Alex says playfully, situated between Geoffrey and Scott. “You guys are our original gangsters,” Ted adds.
“A lot of Americans would look at this as garbage,” Ted says, pointing to the fish carcass, which includes a fish head. “This particular fish carcass is cod and a catfish head,” says Geoffrey. “I love how you say that,” says Scott, poking fun at how Geoffrey pronounces “cod.” He points out that most people would probably want to turn the bones into a broth, but with the time constraints it may not be the right choice. “I am dying to cook this,” adds Scott as Ted gives them 20 minutes to create a dish.
by Joseph Erdos in Shows, February 24th, 2015
The chefs of Chopped
were sure surprised to see basket ingredients in disguise in tonight’s April Fools’ episode. Presented with ingredients that appeared to be peas and carrots, grilled cheese, tomato soup and milk, what they actually had were candies, pound cake, strawberry puree and buttermilk. After the episode, the judges — Amanda Freitag, Geoffrey Zakarian and Alex Guarnaschelli — face the dessert round in an all-new Chopped After Hours, cooking with the same deceiving ingredients.
“I have great news! We’re bringing in massage therapists,” says Ted. “I’ve also got vintage Champagne.” But before he goes any further, he blurts out, “None of that is true. It’s our April Fools’ episode!” The baskets were designed to fool the chefs, but the judges feel it’s their duty to bring that same spirit to their dishes. “It’s up to us to have our own version of a reaction to April Fools’,” says Alex, who’s got a few tricks up her sleeve — although Ted may have an even bigger trick up his.
by Joseph Erdos in Shows, January 20th, 2015
Late-night cravings can be pretty weird sometimes, especially when it comes to the types of foods eaten in succession, or even all at once. That was exactly the theme of tonight’s Chopped
episode in which the competitors found themselves cooking with mystery baskets full of late-night combinations. And after the episode, the judges — Geoffrey Zakarian, Scott Conant and Maneet Chauhan — face the dessert round in an all-new Chopped After Hours
, cooking with a rice and cheese burrito, chocolate milk, whipped cream and apple pie.
“I hate to admit this, but I love these apple pies,” confesses Scott, for what Ted Allen explains is “not the kind your grandma used to make but the kind you might get at a convenience store.” Geoffrey pokes fun at the comment, saying, “I actually got all these things at the gas station on the way here.” Ted underlines the difficulty they might have working with processed foods. But Geoffrey isn’t fazed, as he explains “that any of these foods will taste better with some alcohol.”
by Joseph Erdos in Shows, December 2nd, 2014
For the Chopped
judges, there is no such thing as too bizarre a basket. They’re willing and able to take on even the weirdest one of all. And the entree round from tonight’s Chopped episode was pretty odd, to say the least, containing goat heads, flaming shiso, blue foot mushrooms and kholodets. Judges Chris Santos, Alex Guarnaschelli and Geoffrey Zakarian were excited to get their hands on these ingredients without any aversions — except for maybe Chris, who thinks, of all the ingredients, the kholodets, a Russian jellied meat dish, looks the least appetizing.
Ted Allen wonders if they have any ideas for these unusual ingredients. “I’m quite certain based on history we’re going to come up with three wildly different ideas,” Chris tells Ted about the possibilities that the basket presents. “I think this is a great basket to showcase using ingredients we might not otherwise think are going to become anything,” says Alex. With just 30 minutes on the clock, the judges get right to cooking. “It’s so serious in here,” says Ted. “You guys do know that no one is getting chopped, right?”
by Joseph Erdos in Shows, September 30th, 2014
When you think of the word “meatballs,” what comes to mind? It’s probably something different for everyone: It could be spaghetti and meatballs or Swedish meatballs, a meatball grinder or meatballs made with something other than beef or pork. On tonight’s episode of Chopped
, the chefs face cooking meatballs out of their mystery baskets in every round. And the Chopped judges decided to get in on the fun, too, taking on the appetizer basket from the show on After Hours
Faced with the ingredients lamb shanks, fresh ginger, baby leeks and one outlier, creme brulee, the judges have 30 minutes to make a meatball dish, but each one takes a very different direction. “We have no choice but to grind this stuff,” says Scott about the lamb shanks, which can take a long time to cook. But he turns on a dime when it comes time to cook, deciding to braise the lamb shanks to make a ragu with vegetarian “meatballs” made out of spinach, leeks and ricotta.
by Joseph Erdos in Shows, August 26th, 2014
When it comes to creating a successful dessert, it’s often about striking the right balance. Cloyingly sweet is not necessarily how you want to finish a meal, especially on Chopped
. When presented with a dessert basket consisting of some of the most-sugary processed items, the two finalists (a 10-year-old and an 11-year-old) on Short Order Cooks stayed mainly within the sweet confines of the basket, whereas the judges take it one step further, bringing in savory notes, but with one holdout: Geoffrey, who says, “I’m going right at the sweetness.”
“All the best restaurants in the country are sort of tilting away from excessive sweetness,” Ted infers from what Alex and Chris are saying about taking the baskets, containing banana pudding, vanilla ice cream, icing and brownie mix, in a slightly savory direction. “You could kind of just put all this together and be done,” says Alex, baking a warm brownie and topping it with a scoop of ice cream, but “the challenge is to figure out something to make that reinvents what’s here.” Chris adds, “I think that’s the only route you can go,” taking it down a savory road.
When faced with an ingredient like eel, most chefs would run the other way, but the judges on Chopped After Hours
take the challenge in stride: “You think some slippery eels are going to shake our nerves?” retorts Aarón. Geoffrey recommends that the skin be removed, which is an important step. Only one pro chef managed to serve his dish with eel that had the skin removed in the appetizer round of the Ultimate Champions premiere. His dish turned out to be the judges’ favorite, but the other dishes left something to be desired — i.e., no skin.
Geoffrey, Chris and Aarón are cooking with the appetizer basket ingredients — eel, pepihuates, shaved coconut and sea beans — from tonight’s episode. Even though Geoffrey points out they’re not equipped to properly skin an eel, the three judges cleverly decide to parboil it first, which makes removing the skin and bones much easier compared with how the episode’s chefs struggled. The only ingredient that leaves Geoffrey flummoxed is the pepihuates. “Watch me magically transform it,” Chris asserts. Aarón explains it’s simply a Mexican tomato-based snack/drink with peanuts and a tamarind stick — not unlike a Bloody Mary, Ted thinks.