By now, I'm pretty sure most of you know what Food Network's Chopped is all about. Now having celebrated its 10th anniversary on-air, the Ted Allen-hosted, reality-based cooking show has four chefs compete against each other in three rounds for a chance to win $10,000. Each round, the chefs are presented with a basket of "mystery ingredients" which are often bizarre compliments (???) to one another – leaving the poor contestants with a time crunch to produce some miraculous concoction that not only tastes good but is visually appealing.
Later, they are positioned (like on trial) in front of a panel of (sometimes not-so-friendly) judges – whose job it is to essentially make them feel like they are standing on-stage in the middle of an arena, bare-ass naked.
Pretty awesome, right? Here's how NBC's Saturday Night Live sees it…
I absolutely love the show and live vicariously through the contestant's ability to create something out of nothing. I eagerly anticipate the end of each round where their meals are placed in front of the judges right after Allen calls time….and that's when the show forces me into "plan mode."
Plan A: find the nearest object to smash my head against.
Plan B: scramble rather awkwardly for my remote to hit the "FF" button.
I should note that sometimes I can't find the remote control in time because my daughter has hidden it. When that happens, I can hold out until my skin starts to crawl before being forced to resort to Plan A.
Why all this planning? The contestants' back-stories…
My vibe is killed every time the chefs are forced to uncomfortably endure some melodramatic "Q&A" from the judges – like it's a cross between an oral admissions essay presentation and a high-pressure spelling bee. The obscene awkwardness, the tears, the looks of disdain (at times, we've all seen it) from their fellow competitors: all of it makes me cringe and contort in ways I never want to revisit. If I wanted to listen to people toss out depressing tales of what got them to the Chopped kitchen, I'd flip over to Lifetime, A&E, or even Investigation Discovery.
That is not to say that knowing about the hardship and stuggles that led them here isn't important – I just don't think a cooking show competition should end with me needing to spend thousands of dollars on therapy.