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Favorite ingredient or combination of ingredients - what's yours?

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One of my favorite episodes was the Viewers Choice episode. I think it was Alex who once described it as "a punishment to both the judges and the contestants." 

 

Putting durian in virtually anything is liable to ruin the best of dishes without having an experienced hand. But to add imitation crab meat and lime jello? Unadulterated evil. 

But canned chicken and clam chowder? <shudder> 

On this side of the screen it was hilarious. Was it one of the contestants who asked the judges mid-cooking "What do you think is harder: cooking with these ingredients or having to eat what has been cooked." After seeing what they came up with, I think it was the cooking that is the hard part. 

Finally - I never thought marrow bones was that hard to use for dessert. But then I saw a sweet genius knock it out of the park once... 

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I think the ingredients they come up with are hard enough as it is. Especially when it's some obscure bag of brown dust.

I have learned to try different combinations of ingredients I'd never dream of using together, thanks to this show. I roasted some Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt/pepper. Then I tossed them with toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds, added fresh squeezed lemon juice, and topped it with shaved parmesan cheese. I'd always fixed Brussels sprouts with some bacon or something savory, never thought of adding in some sweet and tart elements. But it was so good it's going to be included in our Thanksgiving meal this year.

I've also started to be more brave using alcohol to braise or create a sauce with. I dragged out my little Donvier hand-crank ice cream maker and have been experimenting with different flavors.

I do fear this show is running out of professional chefs who want to spend the time and money coming to NYC to compete. I wouldn't mind seeing more home cooks, such as myself (who will be playing for my dead cat) just because I want to see people I can relate to. Not themed shows with police or nurses or whoever. But normal Joe next door types who would undoubtedly struggle a time or too and make us laugh.

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I do fear this show is running out of professional chefs who want to spend the time and money coming to NYC to compete. I wouldn't mind seeing more home cooks, such as myself (who will be playing for my dead cat) just because I want to see people I can relate to. Not themed shows with police or nurses or whoever. But normal Joe next door types who would undoubtedly struggle a time or too and make us laugh.

Sorry about your cat and I will totally contribute to your kickstarter campaign if you get the call, but personally I'm not too jazzed about amateurs with simplified baskets.  Ply those big professional egos with newborn baby fish and pepihuates!

 

What's wrong with this show that they can't loosen up the purse strings and start offering a travel/lodging stipend for contestants?  Chopped is the respected granddaddy of cooking competitions and a win still seems to be worth mentioning.  It's a shame to lose the untapped talent pool that's out there because the producers are standing on principle and/or don't want to put an extra ($3k/per?) line item in the budget.

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I love the idea of having more "every day" cooks on the show... and maybe three easy items and one ringer. 

Just not baskets full of WTF head scratching. it's not much fun when none of it makes sense and it comes out looking like a half cooked casserole. 

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Why don't they use speculoos spread anymore? I miss speculoos. I love the cookies when I get them on an airplane, and I've purchased a jar of the spread twice.

 

I would like to see a mystery basket with speculoos spread, canned asparagus, cottage cheese, and chicken wings.

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I don't have any favorite ingredients or anything like that, but I do want to comment on the packaging that some of the ingredients have that just make me roll my eyes. It makes me think the show emptied the original packaging and put them in their own, with the generic titles.

 

Like Mac and Cheese. I mean really; a generic "Mac and Cheese" on a plain box with no Kraft or Velveeta? or cheese curls? Like the "Easy Peasy" episode, those weren't Cheese Curls but Cheetos! Since I eat both, and the latter is my preference I knows what I am talking aboot!

 

There are others too, which I'm blanking on, but it's so obvious to me that the "box" they are in, was not the original packaging.

 

Is there some rule that the show can't have them in the original name brand packages? Kind of like on some sitcoms years ago, where Coke and Pepsi, etc. couldn't be shown, but the cans had the generic "soda" on them?

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It makes me think the show emptied the original packaging and put them in their own, with the generic titles.

 

They did.  They don't want to mess with all that's involved in getting permission to show the brand/logo, I'm sure (and may not want to appear to be "endorsing" something that's a competitor to one of their sponsors' products).  The visual greeking doesn't generally distract me, but the way they refer to things can really get me laughing sometimes.  Like "whipped topping," "powdered orange drink" or "vegetable yeast spread."  I always wonder how many interview takes were ruined by the contestants accidentally saying the brand name.

Edited by Bastet
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They did.  They don't want to pay to show the brand name/logo (or even go through the process of getting permission, since there would be so many brands each episode), I'm sure.  The visual greeking doesn't generally distract me, but the way they refer to things can really get me laughing sometimes.

 

Thanks Bastet.

 

And yes, in addition to the eye rolling, I find myself laughing as well.  But I shouldn't be surprised, because I think I read in one of the season threads that they don't even pay the fare for the contestants who appear.  That the contestants have to pay their own way to be on this show.

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I know they don't want to pay endorsement or advertsing money to the various products, but when they say "gummi worms" or "gummi eggs" do they not realize that the word gummi is part of a product name?

Speaking of which, the big gummi skull they had that time at Halloween was probably my favorite weird ingredient.

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Yeah, any brand names that appear are considered advertising and thus have to be paid for and that would get expensive. It makes me think of when on CBS procedurals, someone gets out a tablet to show how Suspect X did whatever, and they make sure they show us the Windows 8 start menu, lest we think the tablet is a Samsung. Or the leads jump in their car to detain a suspect and the camera focuses on the car's logo as it zooms up the highway.

 

I also find more amusing when they call things commonly known by the brand name, by a generic name. Processed cheese spray instead of Cheez Whiz or whatever.


I know they don't want to pay endorsement or advertsing money to the various products, but when they say "gummi worms" or "gummi eggs" do they not realize that the word gummi is part of a product name?

Speaking of which, the big gummi skull they had that time at Halloween was probably my favorite weird ingredient.

 

Gummi is a brand, but I thought that gummy is just an adjective. Any idea? What word could they use instead? Gelatinous?

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I don't have any favorite ingredients or anything like that, but I do want to comment on the packaging that some of the ingredients have that just make me roll my eyes. It makes me think the show emptied the original packaging and put them in their own, with the generic titles.

 

Like Mac and Cheese. I mean really; a generic "Mac and Cheese" on a plain box with no Kraft or Velveeta? or cheese curls? Like the "Easy Peasy" episode, those weren't Cheese Curls but Cheetos! Since I eat both, and the latter is my preference I knows what I am talking aboot!

 

There are others too, which I'm blanking on, but it's so obvious to me that the "box" they are in, was not the original packaging.

 

Is there some rule that the show can't have them in the original name brand packages? Kind of like on some sitcoms years ago, where Coke and Pepsi, etc. couldn't be shown, but the cans had the generic "soda" on them?

 

Rachael Raye's 30 Minute Meals show was especially good at this.  Their generic product packages were really professionally made.

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Yeah, any brand names that appear are considered advertising and thus have to be paid for and that would get expensive.

Umm, yeah - for the advertisers, not the show.  I suspect they'd love more paid product placement.  Top Chef certainly loves it. I think they approached enough brand names and gotten turned down enough (as in, "No, we won't pay") that they've decided it's not worth paying someone to try to sell Chopped placement and the show's style would be anonymous, rather than half brands and half generic. 

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A lot of times, in my past experience, it's a trade-off. The advertiser supplies products, in exchange for their name being shown on the show. But the show would also be expected to show the items a certain number of times during a set period.

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A long time ago, I read an interview with a woman who worked behind the scenes at Chopped.  She said that the producers made the decision right at the beginning to avoid all brand names on products.  She also said they have people in the production department whose responsibility it is to design generic labels for everything.  That avoids accusations that they are shilling for any food manufacturer.

 

I can't, of course, vouch for any of that. 

 

Some products are so iconic that the generic descriptions are comical but I suppose that can't be entirely avoided.

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Once, they used those little round ice cream pellets. I cannot remember what they called them, but we know them as Dippin' Dots. I thought that was a good ingredient, but I don't remember seeing it again.

Any of the oddball root vegetables are always good, because some of them need to be boiled, others fried, others are a mystery.

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Umm, yeah - for the advertisers, not the show.  I suspect they'd love more paid product placement.  Top Chef certainly loves it. I think they approached enough brand names and gotten turned down enough (as in, "No, we won't pay") that they've decided it's not worth paying someone to try to sell Chopped placement and the show's style would be anonymous, rather than half brands and half generic. 

 

I clearly was not really paying attention when I wrote my comment originally, because yes, expensive for the *advertiser*. What I should have said was, that I can't imagine every producer of every brand name wanting to pay Chopped when Chopped wants to use their product.

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I'm posting this here because it's sort of ingredient related.

 

While watching this show, I've seen this new commercial for "Chef's thumb" or something like that. It's a product being hawked by a home chef (forget his name, but he's never been on this show, or at least, I haven't seen the episode if he was ever on this show).

 

It's like a thimble for chefs, to protect the person who's is chopping, cutting, dicing ingredients, to NOT get cut and bleed all over the place.  and it's made from titanium, y'all! and has spikes on the underside to sink in and hold the veggie in place while you chop, dice, mince away without the veggie in question slipping away and falling to the floor!!!!

 

Naturally, I think the price is the typical $9.95, Or maybe $19.95. I just rolled my eyes, and also immediately thought of you guys and wanted to share! I'm so sure that this is available at Bed Bath and Beyond, like all these products that say only available from their website and not available in stores.

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I bought a stainless-steel-reinforced glove from the Cook's Catalogue to use with my new mandoline. It's the best thing ever.

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Next thing you know they're going to be complaining because a dish doesn't have raw red onions and truffle oil on it.

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Okay y'all. I admit, I'm too chicken to look it up, but can anyone tell me what exactly the ingredient Sweet Breads is? Because honestly? It looks like brains to me. Which, ewww.

 

And why is it called Sweet Breads?

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They're organ meats, but not brains. They're on my don't-eat list.

 

As for the genesis of the word, our buddies at Wikipedia state the following:

 

The word "sweetbread" is first attested in the 16th century, but the etymology of the name is unclear.[4] "Sweet" is perhaps used since the thymus is sweet and rich-tasting, as opposed to savory-tasting muscle flesh.[5] "Bread" may come from brede, "roasted meat"[6] or from the Old English brǣd ("flesh" or "meat").

 

I'm still not going to eat them.

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They're actually not bad if they're prepared properly. I think they taste a little like veal, and they have something like the consistency of rare sea scallops.

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I just discovered something we've all wondered about, in an interview with Jamie Lauren (2-time Top Chef contestant) who is now a culinary supervisor for a lot of food shows.....I never thought about items being sealed with the foil or paper things on the top!

 

What is “Greeking”? It appears to be important.

I don’t know where the term comes from, how it was invented. That means everything with a label has to be taped over, since you’re not allowed to show brands unless they’re a sponsor. Then we have to make sure everything is open, and we have to make sure there isn’t foil on anything.
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Not showing brands reminds me of a  time (80's?)  when Jewel Foods/Albertson's  had a line of store brand generic foods.    they were labelled with the name of the product only, and all the labels were white with black lettering.   Cans, boxes, bottles, all had the same style labels. 

 

jewel+generics+1977+pleasantfamilyshoppi

 

That's what Chopped needs, no brand names at all.

 

After a party where my in-laws served generic "BEER" it became a running joke in the family, about generic stuff. 

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Maybe I'm missing an obvious answer but................... Why is foil a problem?

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Mlp, I was talking about those annoying little foil lids that are on bottles of oil, some spices... the ones that are always hard to pull off. It takes a sharp little knife or a lot of luck that the tab doesn't come off when trying to remove one of those.

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Not showing brands reminds me of a  time (80's?)  when Jewel Foods/Albertson's  had a line of store brand generic foods.    they were labelled with the name of the product only, and all the labels were white with black lettering.   Cans, boxes, bottles, all had the same style labels. 

 

jewel+generics+1977+pleasantfamilyshoppi

 

That looks just like military/government food stuff. 

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Yep.

 

 

Mlp, I was talking about those annoying little foil lids that are on bottles of oil, some spices... the ones that are always hard to pull off. It takes a sharp little knife or a lot of luck that the tab doesn't come off when trying to remove one of those.

 

The person who invented the half circle flip up pull tab deserves a medal.

 

I always get a laugh when the show does all of the label covering/removing, yet leaves the product in a distinctive package. Like when "orange sports drink" is clearly in a Gatorade bottle, or when chefs use bottles featuring Rooster Sauce siracha's trademark green tips.

Edited by xaxat
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Or that disgusting Rogue Maple Voodoo Donut Ale they used in the grilling competition last year, which all the competitors treated with the disdain it deserved.  I think you could even see the Rogue bottle cap come off when they opened it.

Edited by Totale

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 I watched 10 minutes of Nancy Fuller's show this weekend (all I could stand) and she was make a cookie crust.  She dumped a sleeve and a half of "chocolate sandwich cookies" in the food processor, which the camera was doing an extreme closeup on to where you could not only see the Oreo name but even the little cross that makes the Nabisco logo.  

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