Miles To Go (milestogo13) wrote,
Miles To Go

The Three Things Chopped Contestants are Contractually Obligated to Do

I don't watch a lot of reality television, but when I do, it apparently needs to involve someone pureeing sheep's bladder. Iron Chef America, The Next Iron Chef, The Next Food Network Star, and, most beloved of all, Chopped. Staples in my televised diet. But having consumed nearly, what, five seasons of Chopped now, I have to say that certain...patterns...begin to emerge.

1) Someone must attempt to use the blast chiller, unsuccessfully - No, seriously, we're not even sure the damn thing is plugged in. At least two out of every three episodes has someone who is actively racing a 30 minute clock develop the brilliant idea to attempt to cook something that takes 25 minutes to bring to a molten state, and then 10 minutes to set. Oh noes! But wait! The blast chiller!

In theory, the thing is like an anti-microwave. Inside a nitrogen-fueled portal to the ninth level of Dante's hell, all molecular activity will cease within minutes! You have become death, destroyer of worlds, and Brownian motion! Except not really.

Without fail, with 60 seconds left on the clock, a frantic chef will throw open the door, only to find that instead of a beautifully set chocolate sheet (insert fancy French phrase here), he has a slightly congealed mass of lukewarm chocolaty goo. This is how easily 20% of the sauces on the show are made. Remember, the secret ingredient is panic!

I'm sure that it's a fine machine which, given proper time, would do wonders on the dessert or dashing, debonair pilot of the Millennium Falcon of your choice. But the contestants' consistent failure to grasp the laws of thermodynamics continues to make this appliance look only slightly less useless than Geoffrey Zakarian's tan.

2) Zee machines, zey do nothink! - Industrial meat grinder. Ice cream maker. 4000 rpm Foodbliterator. There are a LOT of very nifty gadgets in the Chopped kitchen that I would, at first blush, absolutely love to have in my own home. Except for the fact that, given their success rate on the show, I feel like the chances of them working as intended are only slightly higher than their chances of rising up and joining their robot overlords in revolution, turning my family in to the series premiere of "How To Serve Man."

Much like the blast chiller, I assume that most of this is the result of hurried contestants attempting to do things like juice an entire side of cow, and grind a turnip in to sausage. It's just so predictable that you could build a drinking game around it. "Oh crap, he's got the blender! Get me a shot! GET ME A SHOT!" It's enough to make me wonder if the producers haven't hired gnomes to tinker with each appliance juuuuust a little bit.

3) SCIENCE! - It's not, perhaps, as common as some of these other entries, but every fifth episode or so you'll get someone who mastered in gastronomy at MIT instead of Le Cordon Bleu, and this person will generally hold true to two principles: first, they will genuinely believe that they are smarter than everyone else in the room, including the judges, and anyone who doesn't enjoy their cuisine simply doesn't "get it," and second, they will grab every amino acid and chemically prefixed powder on the gorram shelf, and they will blend them all together and call it "pesto."

Look, I don't know what this stuff tastes like. I stopped getting near active science labs after my stint interning with Bunsen Honeydew. Sure, that third arm is handy for typing, but spooning? Très difficile. All I'm saying is, have you ever not mixed a Carnation Instant Breakfast up well enough? Texturally, it's a nightmare, but at least it still tastes like chocolate. Now you've got someone throwing four cups of maltodextrin powder in to their sauce, and as far as I know, that just tastes like science. And science tastes about like NyQuil, in my world.

"Good afternoon, judges. Today, I have made you a slurry of grit and slime that, when you are finished, can also be used in your child's rock tumbler."
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