chopped has been a staple of Food Network programming since 2009. In terms of years, it is the network’s third-longest-running show behind Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (still running) and Good foodwhich concluded in 2012.
Unlike Iron Chef Americathat films in an atmosphere of sand, chopped offers a more intimate look at four chefs as they prepare a three-course meal for three judges. Judges pre-select the main ingredient and the champion wins a $10,000 prize.
What is it like to compete? chopped? One contestant spilled the beans.
Josh Lewis was cast after auditioning for two years
Chef Josh Lewis appeared on the show in December 2014, the AV Club reports. As viewers know, chopped contestants discover the secret ingredient as host Ted Allen announces it live in front of the judges. Fortunately, Lewis had about four months to strategize for various types of food he might find, from sweets and seafood to chocolate and vegetables.
Lewis, currently the chef de cuisine at Lost Dog Cafe & Lounge in Binghamton, New York, initially submitted his photos and bio in an attempt to earn a spot on the show. He detailed how he tried to overcome his anxiety by earning a place among the chopped alumni
Lewis made it to the stage of interviews at the Food Network offices before saying no at first. two years later, chopped he came calling.
Josh Lewis was in a themed episode in his wheelhouse
when it appeared chopped, Lewis worked at Better Being Underground, a sandwich-themed restaurant. All four chefs on his show were great at making sandwiches, which was the theme of Lewis’s show, so it wasn’t really a plus.
The day started at 6 a.m., Lewis told AV Club. The four chefs met in a separate room from the set and drank a lot of coffee. The quarterback didn’t even meet the judges until the first round of judging.
When the show started, Lewis had a lot to keep track of. The ovens were already preheated to 350 degrees, and the producers boiled a pot of water. The chefs inspected the pantry about 10 minutes before the start time.
Lewis made it to the dessert round with the theme of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a necessary ingredient. The chef was lost when he couldn’t find coconut milk as another necessary ingredient. He felt sure he would have won the $10,000 prize if he could have found the coconut milk in the pantry.
When the judges tried the dishes for 10 minutes after the round, the chef saw the ingredient on the shelf and stared at it. He said it was the only time he felt really upset during the competition.
Producers encouraged trash talk and other behind-the-scenes secrets
Lewis spoke of what the atmosphere was like after completing a round: “So much relief. But then there’s the terror before the next round. When the timer runs out on each round, you’ve got about 10 minutes or so while they prepare things for court and seat you on the set, in front of the pantry.”
Lewis also mentioned that the producers encouraged trash talking between the contestants to heighten the drama. But Lewis couldn’t do it:
“The producers actually wanted us to talk, so to speak. They want you to participate in something for the people watching, and actually said, ‘Try saying this,’ or, ‘How about the way how did this person do it? How would you have done it? Are they hooked? I refused. it’s not me I’ve seen trash talk in other episodes, but there wasn’t any with us.”
The food served to the crew, judges and studio guests? Ironically, for a network that thrives on great food, Lewis said the catering wasn’t the best: “Actually, it’s not good. Surprisingly. It wasn’t them; the network has some off-site catering company that they use. I don’t know who it was, but it wasn’t good.”
Regardless of the food situation behind the scenes, chopped fans like to tune in. The program remains strong with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
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