Chopped is undoubtedly one of the most addicting shows on television. With its fast pace, charming host (looking at you, Ted Allen), experienced judges, and uncanny combo of basket ingredients, it’s easy to find yourself shouting at the television, reminding the contestants not to forget about their food in the blast chiller.
As contestants are judged on taste, presentation and creativity, you never know what they’ll come up with when having to use some very weird ingredients together in a delicious, cohesive dish.
Below we’ve summed up the 7 Deadly Sins Chopped contestants seem to make over and over again, scoring them that unfortunate spot on the chopping block.
1. Forgetting a basket ingredient
This one always seems to hurt the most. It seems so easy to the viewers at home: you only have four ingredients in the basket. How could you forget one? At least throw the shaved coconut on top for a garnish. And yet this egregious mistake seems to get someone chopped at least once an episode.
2. Over (or under) cooking the protein
The judges want the protein to be the center of the dish: hanger steak, halibut, king’s crab legs. Whatever it may be, don’t over cook it, and don’t under cook it. This is a guaranteed way not to make it to the next round.
#SpoonTip: Don’t forget to debone your fish.
3. Trying to bake a cake in 30 minutes
The dessert round is always the perfect opportunity to try something different and take risks. However, science tells us that you can’t bake a soufflé in 30 minutes. Especially when you spend 10 minutes prepping it! You don’t have to play it safe, but please play it smart, at least for the sake of the viewers at home.
4. Making the appetizer too big (or the entrée too small)
It’s important to keep the size of the plate consistent with where it falls in the meal. You can’t serve a big pork chop as an appetizer! And you can’t serve salad as the main dish.
#SpoonTip: Choose an appropriate-sized plate for your dish. Pasta belongs in a bowl.
4. Using raw onions (especially when Scott Conant is judging)
Celebrity chef Scott Conant has stated his aversion to raw onions numerous times while judging Chopped. Stay away from them at all costs, unless your ceviche is truly dependent on it. There’s a right way to use onions and there’s a wrong way.
#SpoonTip: Also, if you’re going to make pasta for Scott Conant, make sure it’s pretty damn good.
5. Contaminating the food
Accidents happen. The pressure and time constraint that Chopped places on its contestants can cause some kitchen mishaps. You forget to flip your cutting board after handling raw meat, or maybe your knife slips while julienning carrots.
But please, if you cut yourself, ensure that you don’t have blood on your station (and more importantly on your dish) and go dress your wound. The Chopped judges won’t touch your dish if they have any reason to believe it’s contaminated, and rightfully so. Stay clean, folks.
6. Helping other contestants
This is Chopped. It’s a competition, not a team effort. Don’t be the hero and offer to blend someone’s purée when his/her blender stops working. Worry about yourself.
7. Putting cheese on fish
Any Italian (see above) will be highly offended if you do this. Plus, it’s gross. Stay away from this combo if you want to walk away with that $10,000 check.