Jace Lacob, writing for The Daily Beast, explains why he loves the show:
I watch to see the chefs attempt to work their magic, to masterfully coax flavor out of disparate ingredients, and to materialize a well-executed dish out of thin air. I also watch to see whether they’re familiar with the more esoteric ingredients, some of which I’ve maybe either eaten or handled myself. Do they realize that karela is a bitter melon, popular from China and India to Trinidad and Vietnam? Are they going to overcook the quail? What will they do with pig tails for dessert? Will a custard base make it to the ice cream machine before their competitor’s?
These are questions that run through my head while I’m watching Chopped, which imparts a deeper culinary awareness to viewers. While it’s up to viewers whether or not to further familiarize themselves with some of these specialty items, what the show does so well is to demystify some of these less-quotidian ingredients, making them more accessible. It might be sea cucumbers and crosnes one week or lacinato kale and speculoos another, but viewers come away after watching Chopped with a broader culinary lexicon.
Lacob’s reasoning for watching matches my own. Perfect summation.
I, too, love “Chopped”. It’s, without question, my favorite show not only on Food Network, but any network. I love learning about ingredients that I’ve never heard of before, or “out there” offal such as duck tongue, goat brains, and lamb testicles. As Lacob notes, I like watching the chefs struggle to create cohesive dishes with a mish-mash of ingredients. The show’s host, Ted Allen, and all the judges are terrific as well.
I watch every chance I get. On Tuesday nights, Food Network shows a mini-marathon that I never miss. Most episodes are reruns, but “Chopped” is one of those rare shows that are actually worth seeing again. It's like watching a great murder mystery: you know who did it (or who’s going to win), but you watch it again because the process of finding the culprit/winner is so well done.