Having been home sick the past two days, I've caught up on many of the shows on my DVR -- Bizarre Foods, Man vs. Wild, Life After People, Lie to Me, others. And I watched about 12 episodes of Chopped.
Remember Ted Allen, from Queer Eye? He and his rectangular glasses have been busy, and for some reason he doesn't seem any more comfortable on camera now than he did back then. I like him just the same. He was always solidly in my top three of the Fab Five (sometimes top two, but no one beat Thom).
So if you're not familiar with it, here's the deal. During an hour-long show, four chefs compete for $10,000. They prepare an appetizer (usually in 20 minutes), an entree (in 30 minutes), and a dessert (in 30 minutes) with surprise, typically unrelated ingredients (for example: chicken wings, soba noodles, celery, and string cheese on 3/17/09) for three judges. Each course has different surprise ingredients and competitors also have access to a basic larder. If their dish doesn't stack up, they are chopped (get it?) and do not go on to the next round. By the end, just two chefs are left to prepare dessert. At this point, the judges ruminate on the full meals and pick a winner. As far as I can tell, there have been no ties yet.
Now on to the judges. I feel fine making a few somewhat snarky comments about them, since they do it on the show to the competitors. Here goes.
- Alex Guarnaschelli. Quit narrowing your eyes at people and frowning, chickadee. Your face will freeze that way.
- Geoffrey Zakarian. A lot of the world actually enjoys pepper and spice, although you can't seem to... at all. *cough. cough. pretends to choke* By the way, you bear a resemblance to Kevin Nealon, and you sound like him, too. Weird.
- Chris Santos. Listen, you are very cute and you seem kinda cool and I have read yummy things about your food, but coming down from the high horse that you've ridden to the set could serve you well. (Ted introduces this guy as a "rock star," but I don't get it. He's another bald chef with an attitude and lots of tattoos, but tattoos and attitude do not a rocker make.)
- Amanda Freitag. One word -- crispy. We know you like it, babe. Stop whining when food isn't.
- Scott Conant. You're another one who needs to stop giving everyone the fisheye. It's less intimidating than it is boring, at this point. And you ain't no Masaharu Morimoto. (Remember how he never smiled on tv, for years and years? When the world finally caught a glimpse of a smile, it was like, who is this man? Ohhh, Morimoto... cooool... you're not a robot after all....)
- Marc Murphy. He's just mean.
- Aarón Sánchez. Crush!!! He actually provides constructive criticism, without feeling the need to constantly frown. I could listen to this guy all day. I'm so glad we'll be seeing more on him on The Food Network on that new Chef vs. City show. I'll sure be watching!
Aaanyway, despite the silly judges and their (mostly) silly comments, and despite the fact that few competing chefs on the show have impressed me, I am totally hooked. I love this crap! Up to this point, my favorite episodes have been the ones where the winners were unconcerned with winning the 10K, feeling that the cash was just a bonus to the title. I especially liked Jason Zukas (Queens in the house, holler! This guy really had style), and Roshni Mansukhani was also cool, because they were so focused on proving their skills and choice of career.
So who knows what tonight's episode may bring? (Well, I do... it's "Pods, Grills and Sticky Fingers!" Yum...)