How Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Is Made

How Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Is Made


Ted Allen: We are throwing them into the deep end of the pool, and we wanna see what happens. And that’s where the
excitement comes from. Our show is totally real. My name is Ted Allen, I’m the host of the show “Chopped” on the Food Network. I had never been on camera
before I was on Queer Eye, and somehow, I know that
TV cameras freak a lot of people out, it’s
just never bothered me. When I’m doing “Chopped,”
I’m just being me. We have a rotating array of nine judges, who have become just fast
friends, we’re all so close. We’re so passionate about food. All we have to do is show
up on time, and talk about cooking techniques, and
ingredients that we love, and ingredients that we don’t love, and how things might be put together best. And the proof is on the plate, you know. So, if it’s good, it’s
good, and it’s not, see ya. The casting actually is
quite a complicated process. We’re looking for chefs
who are interesting and colorful, and that have great skills. We want people from all over the country, every possible walk of
life, different ages. We wanna have plenty of
women and plenty of men. And it’s harder than it might seem. As difficult as it is to do the show, to compete on the show, it never ceases to amaze me how many people wanna do it. TV is a little more complicated
to make than it is to watch, and TV that involves food
is particularly complicated because, obviously, everything
has to be safe, and fresh. It’s about a 12-hour day
to make a 46-minute show. Someone has to decide what ingredients are going into the baskets. Every basket has a riddle
in it, that is known to the people who make the basket. I doubt that in a 20-minute cooking round, many of the chefs figure out that riddle. They just start chopping. But, if we give you say,
silken tofu, and lavash bread, and tomatillos, maybe we’re looking for a riff on grilled cheese and tomato soup. Good luck figuring that out. I get picked up at 6:30
in the morning, which is much too early. So we get there, we
have a little breakfast, I get into wardrobe, I read my script, and make sure I’m happy with it, and change a few things here and there. For a regular episode, I’m
up there by about eight. The first round is 20 minutes,
the second and third rounds are each 30 minutes, but
there are a whole lot of shots that have to be shot before
those rounds can begin. There are so many different
angles that we have to shoot. We’ve got something like
10, 12 cameras going. Some of the most dramatic
moments in a competition like “Chopped” happen unexpectedly. For example, let’s say somebody
drops a steak on the floor, and they decide to go
ahead and serve it anyway. We need to make sure that
we have a shot of that steak hitting the floor, and that’s
why we need the coverage from so many cameras, because
we don’t reenact things. We don’t stage things, and we
have to capture everything. The rounds are scrupulously,
strictly timed, and people have exactly 20
or 30 minutes to get done. If they’re not done, too bad. There are actually laws about shooting game shows that have cash prizes. There are strict rules about
the way these shows are run, and you have to live by those rules. First of all, the chefs do not know what’s in the mystery baskets. Scrupulously, that is kept from them. They open the basket, they typically have about two minutes before
they have to start cooking. With the ingredients that
are in each mystery basket, we’re looking for variety,
we’re looking for, we wanna represent
different ethnic cuisines, we wanna represent American favorites. I think the audience likes it best when the basket
ingredients are horrifying. We’ve had pickled pig lips on. We’re lucky enough to be
shooting in New York City, which has markets that
sell absolutely everything. There is at least one shop in Chinatown that sells
nothing but mushrooms. New York is such a great food capital that we can get anything we need. Once in a while, we’ll
give people a basket that looks like it’s a slam dunk, you know, New York strip steak, and
potato, and some cheddar cheese. And it seems like the easier the basket, the worse the dishes. It seems like the chefs almost need to be challenged with, you know,
something really scary like a whole chicken in a can. We have to base our decisions
on what is on the plate. Sometimes, the winner of a “Chopped” competition is not our favorite person. You can’t base the
decision on who is popular, who is charming, who is cute. You can’t. The rules sort of save us from that. If somebody omits a
mystery basket ingredient, that’s a huge mistake, but
somebody else maybe could burn two of the ingredients, or undercook one of the ingredients, and burn another, and we find ourselves asking all the time, “What is the greater crime?” Cooking can definitely be dangerous. There are flames, there are sharp edges, there’s a small amount of counter space. We have surprisingly few injuries, and what we’ve had have always been minor. I’ve been doing this for 10 years, and I never get bored with it. The only problem I have with hosting “Chopped” is that my feet hurt. Whenever you start a show,
there’s no guarantee of success, and so they typically
will order a modest number of episodes, I think our
first order was 13 episodes. We had no way of knowing what
our longevity was gonna be, or whether people would embrace it. I think “Chopped” succeeds in part because of the excitement and the tension. We’re forcing them to cook with ingredients that they
didn’t get to choose. But I also think that all of us who cook have had those nights when
the kids are screaming for something, and you
haven’t had a chance to go to the market, and
you open up the fridge, and you have to make
do with what you have. I love working at Food
Network for a lot of reasons. I think probably my favorite aspect is – the relationships that I’ve built with all these really, really talented chefs. And, I mean, I have Alex
Guarnaschelli’s phone number. If I have a problem with
a recipe, I can text her. I also think that our judges are super knowledgeable,
very entertaining, funny. We’ve had a little bit of
foment in our judges’ ranks and our most recent
acquisition, Martha Stewart, I think is a very, very exciting one. I’ve been a fan of hers for 25 years, and now I get to work
with her, it’s amazing. I’m super grateful, super
proud, I love our team, it’s a well-oiled machine,
really great people, and led almost entirely
by women, which I think is exciting in television, and we’re happy to keep making them as long
as you wanna watch ’em.

100 thoughts on “How Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Is Made”

  1. This is one of my favorite shows. I'm not a professional chef, but I would love to just be on the show for the experience. I know how to cook pretty well. But I am not experienced a lot of things with cooking. And I would love to have the opportunity to learn

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  3. 3:13 was all I was waiting on. I can't imagine being a chef, no matter how talented and just having to rush into preparation. I need time to think!

  4. I know that the stressful timing is a big part of the show but I wish the chefs were given more time, especially for the dessert segment (how can you prep and bake in only 20 min?).
    I feel like the dishes could be even more exciting if they were given a little more time.

  5. I could've done w/out the addition of Martha Stewart. She just has this stuck-up, hoity-toity air about her that I don't like. Otherwise, I love Chopped & watch it a lot.

  6. ok but when do they do the confessionals/interviews? after they’re judged or during cooking? so if u get eliminated u still have to do interviews?

  7. I’ve never watched this show but based on this video I can tell Masterchef Professionals is a better competition for reasons too numerous to detail…

  8. I love Chopped but Martha is such a boring addition. She's not even a snob in an entertaining way, she's just cold and uninteresting. I've never understood her fanbase. And it's negatively affected the atmosphere of Chopped.

  9. I'm still curious as to how the contestants are able to give mini interviews in between each round and during each round. They all speak in present tense, not past tense like they answered all the questions AFTER they were finished.

  10. Highly effective movie! Hereabouts at Y&S FOOD! we like to run across such type of content. We produce Travel & Food films as well, across the world, and also we are habitually interested in inspirations and so good ideas. Thank You.

  11. Chopped has been my favourite show since I was 11. I would always watch Food Network. Food network inspired me to pursue cooking as a career and I haven’t looked back.

  12. The only thing that bugs me about Chopped is when time starts running out, and the judges (especially Alex Guarnichelli, highly doubt I spelled that right) start yelling at the chefs "You're running out of time!" "Get it on the plate!" "Finish!" "Hurry up!" They know they're running out of time! For god's sake, shut up!

  13. wow I always thought they at least knew what was in the box before hand so they came up with at least a recipe. interesting

  14. I used to watch this as a kid and the thing that annoyed me the most was when Ted asked "are u ready" and the chefs go " yes Allan" like they know him personally.

  15. Man, I wish I was on that show..for one reason.
    Just to ask, Martha Stewart on question.

    "Is my food better than what they served in jail?"

  16. I've always wondered how the dishes are kept between judging. ie. the person who gets judged last, if they intend for their dish to be served hot, does it just sit there and get cold? Or if a chef prepares ice cream, does it get left out to melt while the production crew sets up for judging?

  17. What in the actual F*** I did not even realize he was on Queer Eye…whooooaaaaa I guess I was too young to remember him even being on that show …

  18. Casting requirements for CHOPPED: 1 parent must be deceased [horrifically gets preference]; other parent must currently [or very recently died gets preference] losing the fight to some terminal disease [i.e. cancer, leukemia, scleroderma; ebola gets preference]. Contestant candidate must have participated in at least one of these situations: military [physical loss gets preference]; gang interactions [whether intentional or bystander; being actually shot gets preference]; natural disasters – fire, tornado, earthquake, flood, hurricane [physical loss gets preference]; immigration hardships [involving death gets preference] – these are only a few examples; the full list is available from the Casting Director upon request.
    Culinary School: not interesting and not required.

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