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You Have Been Chopped: What Not to Do and Other Tropes

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We've all seen the show enough to know what will get a contestant chopped faster than Aaron Sanchez can make a mole.

I'll start the ball rolling with the obvious:  Leaving off a mystery basket ingredient.

As Ted says, this is not an automatic disqualification.  If one of your competitors leaves the bloody stub of their thumb on the plate, you might be safe.   You're doomed, however, if they don't do anything too horrible.

And, watch out, because you might get through one round with a missing ingredient, but that doesn't mean it's not taken into consideration at the end of the day when deciding who wins.

 

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You'll be chopped for not "transforming" the ingredients enough. Or for transforming them so greatly that the judges don't taste the distinct flavor of each individual ingredient.

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Sanitation! 

"I can't eat that salad, you chopped the dragonfruit on the same cutting board you used for raw chicken."

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Blood or hair in the food. Drinking from the alcohol bottle & then using it, unless you're a "celebrity" & then it's fine. Fish bones. "Ack, I almost choked on this pin bone. Are you trying to kill me?"

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Serve meat, chicken, fish so undercooked it walks, hops, or swims to the judges table.

Drop food on floor, then use it anyway. At least pick the splinters out first, people!

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If what you're doing makes the judges  yell "No, no, no!" you're doomed.

Don't serve Scott Conant raw red onion, or fish with cheese.

If Ted or one of the judges say that part of an ingredient is toxic (I'm thinking cherimoya seeds), for heaven's sake don't include that part on your plate.

Don't make French toast or bread pudding in the dessert round. Even if the basket is bread, eggs, random ingredient.

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Don't forget to include a starch in the entree round. Even if the plate is perfectly gorgeous and delicious without it. The judges must have their starch.

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Is there crunch? Is there something green and palate cleansing?

I loved the recent one where Ted was so grateful that two contestants had vowed to each other that they wouldn't do French toast, lol.

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Don't try to get away with using a basket ingredients as a garnish.

The judges will question you if you don't use every flavor of the Neapolitan ice cream.

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Don't go too heavy or too light on the spices, even though your judges will all have very different ideas for what constitutes the right amount of heat for the dish.

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Never, ever, ever finish early. You must finish right on time. If you finish early obviously you have done something wrong and could've used your time more wisely. 

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Omg, yes, never finish early! If you do, it means you haven't been creative enough. You might have done something MUCH more interesting with those sourdough cinnamon roll crumbs.

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Don't make French toast or bread pudding in the dessert round. Even if the basket is bread, eggs, random ingredient.

Unfortunately, cheftestants get rewarded far too often for making one of these, so it doesn't really qualify to be on the list (yet).

Don't come on the show without any dead relatives or terminal illnesses to share.

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Don't have a messy plate even if the basket ingredient look like entrails, you ran out of time, and the judges are yelling "get it on the plate, just get it on the plate"!

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Never make risotto. Especially in the appetizer round. On the flip side, making your own pasta is ALWAYS impressive, if it's executed properly. If not, then also a huge mistake.

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Heaven help you if your dessert isn't sweet enough. Never mind the basket includes fennel, French bread, lemon candies and basil. (I swear this basket has happened before) if it's not cloying hurt your teeth sweet, you are chopped.

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if it's not cloying hurt your teeth sweet, you are chopped.

 

Unless you have Mark (I think it's Mark) as a judge for him dessert is somehow always too sweet.  

 

After re-watching the grilling champion, you have to somehow use all the parts of the basket ingredient. Using just the juice of the sauerkraut is not enough. (Or may be enough depending on the day and the judges.)

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 I don't think Amanda likes sweet deserts.  Or maybe it's Alex.   I'm not sure Chris Santos likes them either.  I know I've heard a couple of them say it's just the right sweetness when another complains it's not sweet enough.

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Don't serve Scott Conant raw red onion, or fish with cheese.

Even though the contestants who use the raw onion get chopped before the end, I love it when they know he loathes raw red onions and use it anyway since that's their culinary vision. I am almost 30 freaking years old and I have the palate of a finicky 12 year old; and I'm mature enough not to hold that against people.

Doesn't Marcus like sweet desserts? I think Alex likes some sweetness, but she will dock you if it goes over the line. I wish there were more solid requirements for chopping besides "I don't like X ingredient so I'll dock you since you didn't cater to my likes." Blood on the plate, I get it. You don't like peas, so the person who used them must be chopped even though it was a solid dish, I don't get that.

Edited by ilovethedark
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I agree there.  It's unfair to expect people to know all of your personal tastes and cater to them.  If you're judging a cooking show, you should expect that you might get something with an ingredient you happen to dislike.  On the other hand, I've little patience for those appearing on "Chopped" now who fail to prepare ahead of time. Common sense would prompt a would-be contestant to watch enough previous episodes to get an idea of what the judges do and do not like.  Scott is pretty consistent with not liking raw red onions, as well as being particularly critical of poorly-done pasta.  Aaron likes his heat.  Amanda likes her boldness.  Alex likes her acid.  Geoffrey's gotten better about spice...a little bit.  Marc Murphy likes his meat n' potatoes.  Marcus Samuelsson...doesn't like anything, from what I can gather.  

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Never, ever, rinse your pasta if Scott is one of the judges!

 

If duck is one of the ingredients in the basket, make sure you render the fat.

 

Never use the ice cream machine.

 

If you toast nuts, they will burn.

 

If your protein is not cooking fast enough on the top of the stove, putting it in the oven thinking the higher heat will cook it faster won't work.  You'll still have underdone meat.

 

Don't make two versions of one protein; you're just forcing an extra comparison and one attempt is usually always inferior to the other.

Edited by DownTheShore
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LOL!  Mr. Wordsworth and I love it when we see someone tosses a skillet with a big, fat chunk of beef into the oven.  Those ovens must be pre-heated to 200 degrees because they almost never get anything done.

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I wonder if the producers forbid the use of oven thermometers.  If I had to cook and potentially bake something in an unfamiliar oven with ten thousand dollars on the line I'd really want to know how hot it actually is.

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Never make risotto. Especially in the appetizer round. On the flip side, making your own pasta is ALWAYS impressive, if it's executed properly. If not, then also a huge mistake.

 

fliptop you stole mine!  lol.   I think I'd be moved by the effort.  And I'm sorry but if you make hand spun pasta right before my eyes in 20 minutes (30?) that should be an automatic bump up.

 

I haven't been watching long enough to know what they have against drizzling truffle oil on a plate, but it sounds good n' persnickety, what gives?

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fliptop you stole mine!  lol.   I think I'd be moved by the effort.  And I'm sorry but if you make hand spun pasta right before my eyes in 20 minutes (30?) that should be an automatic bump up.

 

I haven't been watching long enough to know what they have against drizzling truffle oil on a plate, but it sounds good n' persnickety, what gives?

Ahhh, truffle oil, just waiting in the pantry to trap unsuspecting contestants. The problem with truffle oil is that it contains no actual truffle. It's just some very strong flavoring, and whenever a contestant uses it, they always use too much & it overpowers the dish. The judges ding them for using the fake stuff, & then they ding them for using too much of it.

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Cheap truffle oil has no truffle in it. There is such a thing as real truffle oil that does have truffle in it, and it is VERY expensive.

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Ahhh, truffle oil, just waiting in the pantry to trap unsuspecting contestants. The problem with truffle oil is that it contains no actual truffle. It's just some very strong flavoring, and whenever a contestant uses it, they always use too much & it overpowers the dish. The judges ding them for using the fake stuff, & then they ding them for using too much of it.

 

well shit, that's just sorcery and witchcraft.

eta:  @ cheesiegal, but that's not the stuff they stock, now is it? 

 

Hello, Jacoby & Myers...?  Why, yes, I have been personally injured. 

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I have no idea what kind of truffle oil they stock, but from the way the judges turn up their noses at it, I assume it is the artificial stuff. I saw a show once that talked about truffles, and how expensive they are. The purveyor also made his own truffle oil - I was shocked at how expensive it was.

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I have no idea what kind of truffle oil they stock, but from the way the judges turn up their noses at it, I assume it is the artificial stuff. I saw a show once that talked about truffles, and how expensive they are. The purveyor also made his own truffle oil - I was shocked at how expensive it was.

I don't think the stuff you can buy is ever made with real truffle. Every time the stuff is used on any cooking competition show, the judges turn their noses up at it. I think the only way to get truffle oil with real truffle is too make it yourself.

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They're fungi, right?  I've heard they've more value per ounce than gold/diamonds put together.   Not that fun.   They've got some nerve, those judges know good n' gottam well that ain't no real truffle oil...in a studio....in the middle of Manhattan.    I need to just shutup and watch the food prep, right? lol.   Trying to bring all my other reality show messiness into Chopped. 

 

eta: to insert judges.  how does one know who i'm cussin at without the noun.

Edited by ZaldamoWilder

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Serve meat, chicken, fish so undercooked it walks, hops, or swims to the judges table.

I thought that was a requirement for a dish to be edible? You'd think the judges were all vampires, based on how the taste of blood seems to be preferable to anything else you could season red meat with.

 

Another taboo I saw this week: creating a great-tasting sauce or accent but only using a small amount on the plate, thus preventing judges from eating their fill. (Really? You want a dish to fill you up when you've got a couple of other entrees and a selection of desserts to sample in the next half hour?)

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I was reminded of this tip after the teen tournament championship. 

 

If you are even thinking about making ice cream, make sure you get to the machine before your opponent!

 

About truffle oil, I have no idea what they are using on Chopped, but the stuff I had, infused with (visible) shaved slices, was awesome! So was the truffle honey.

Edited by xaxat
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If you are even thinking about making ice cream, make sure you get to the machine before your opponent!

 

I think it's ridiculous that they don't have two ice cream machines.  There are never more than two chefs in the dessert round so that's all they need and I suspect they can afford another one.  Come to think of it.......................... There are FOUR on the King of Cones show and they all look a lot newer than the one in the Chopped kitchen.  Maybe they'll swap them out when that show is over.  Competing for equipment has never been a requirement on Chopped so I fail to understand why they haven't done something about the problem.

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I think they only have 1 ice cream machine strictly for drama. I seriously doubt money has anything to do with it. It reminds me of Nadia G's new travel show promo where the guy says, "This will be fantastic" and Nadia says "No, this is TV, it will be a cliffhanger".

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Yeah, they have two fry baskets, which might be used in either round 1 or 2, with people waiting in line. Wasn't there an episode of fried foods one time?

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Don't serve raw chicken.

Don't slice your meat before it rests.

Don't use salt instead of sugar in your dessert-Geoffrey still brings up that one.

Don't cook with alcohol unless you have time to cook it down properly.

Forget about the ice cream machine-whatever you are doing DO NOT use the antigriddle.  Face it, you don't know what you are doing and besides, nobody has ever used it effectively.

Edited by Psychobunny
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Forget about the ice cream machine-whatever you are doing DO NOT use the antigriddle.  Face it, you don't know what you are doing and besides, nobody has ever used it effectively.

See also: blast chiller. Don't expect to put something in the blast chiller and have it cool down in time. You'll be serving an Icee or "really cold sauce" at best, regardless of your intended creation or what you call it.

 

Vegetable notes:

 

  • Grill your asparagus. Don't even think of serving it any other way.
  • Potatoes are tricky. The slightest bit al dente and you'll be served a heaping helping of stinkeye
  • God help you if you get rainbow anything, because there's no way you're going to "treat" it right. Can't just quickly steam it and put it on the plate, because that's not creative enough, but if you do anything else, trust me, you'll hear whining about how you destroyed the beautiful color or precious taste.

 

Don't get too excited if you go on a limb and make brittle for the first time. Really, it rarely garners lavish praise and it just never seems to be the daring feat you pretend it to be.

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See also: blast chiller. Don't expect to put something in the blast chiller and have it cool down in time. You'll be serving an Icee or "really cold sauce" at best, regardless of your intended creation or what you call it.

 

Of course, 60% of the time people use the blast chiller, it's along the lines of, "I put the ingredients for ice cream into the machine, and got milk soup, so I'm putting the whole thing in the blast chiller with two minutes left and hoping for a miracle."

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Oh, har, this is my new go-to board when I need to laugh.

 

My only addition is that one time a man brought his own homemade chocolate nibs in his pocket and tossed a few into his appetizer:  "I put these in everything I cook!"

 

Don't do that.

 

 

 

 

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