No spoilers, just a sneak peek at the Food Network's 'Chopped'
Food Network sent over an early look at "Chopped," a new cooking competition show that premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. The host is Ted Allen, who also hosts the channel's "Food Detectives" and was a popular guest judge on Bravo's "Top Chef."
Here's the format for "Chopped": Each week, four contestants from the culinary world must cook an appetizer, entree and dessert using a blind basket of ingredients. (And you can bet there will always be at least one wild-card item in there. Like prunes. Or octopus.) After each round, one contestant will be "chopped" by a panel of judges. The last person standing gets $10,000.
But don't worry, I won't spoil anything. I can't. Because I never watched the ending.
Turns out that Food Network wants to make sure there are absolutely no spoilers, so it sent out a truncated version of the first episode. I still don't know who won. (A spokeswoman at the Food Network helpfully offered to tell me, but I prefer to catch it when it airs -- the reactions are the best part!!!)
But, without giving anything away, I can say this much:
The format makes for one heck of a nail-biting experience, and it succeeds in placing the viewer in the shoes of the contestants. Who hasn't raced around their kitchen, staring at the mismatched ingredients in the cupboard, while the clock is ticking?
Ted is an appealing -- and ever dapper -- host. (Check out those kicks in the photo above.) He manages to deftly direct the three-ring circus while keeping the spotlight on the judges and the contestants.
Note that I said above that Ted "was" a judge on "Top Chef."
It turns out that Ted cannot be in two places at the same time.
"I couldn't do both. I had to make the choice: 'Do I want to do a fifth season of judging on someone else’s show, or take the opportunity to take the helm of my own show?' " Ted said during a phone call earlier this week. "The choice was not that difficult to make. It’s a promotion."
He said he'll sorely miss working on "Top Chef." ("I love the show, and I really, really enjoyed being a part of it.") There's another big downside to the promotion too: The Food Network won't allow hosts to appear in a judging capacity, lest it lead to any concerns about a conflict of interest.
So that means no more judging duties on "Iron Chef America," which was one of Allen's favorite TV duties at the Food Network.
He's holding out hope, though, that he'll find some way to get back on "Iron Chef," even if it's just an occasional appearance.
-- Rene Lynch
Photo: Food Network