“Chopped” Judges Work Through Some Personal Issues

“Chopped” Judges Work Through Some Personal Issues


Judge #1: You’ve seared the salmon just perfectly…just the way my father used to do it, back when things were good. But the way you put the cranberry sauce over to the side of the plate here—it’s like you’re pulling the ingredients apart. I really wanted to see the basket contents together on the plate. They belong together. I can’t mix them together, they have to just be together. Forever.

Judge #2: I agree. By keeping the ingredients separate, it’s like you’re challenging our authority. Do you really think you know better than us how to mix ingredients? I didn’t spent the past three decades of my life studying French cooking to have some little no-name sous-chef from the middle of nowhere show up and suggest to me that I put the wrong ingredients in the basket. My restaurant may have closed, but it wasn’t my fault! It’s the economy!

Judge #3: Chopping the chives lengthwise shows real creativity, Chef Michael…where did you get that idea? Have you been watching other cooking shows behind our backs? Is that what you’ve been doing?


Judge #1: When I smelled that curry coming from the kitchen, it took me right back to 1973. I remember the restaurant: Gandhi Mahal, the first Indian restaurant I ever went to. My dad took us, because he said he wanted us to try something new. We all complained and said we hated it, not knowing that the very next day, he’d pack his bags and leave. Why curry, Chef Michael? Why did you have to use curry?!

Judge #2: I also question your use of spice, Chef Michael. There are so many ways to cook chicken…cordon bleu, en cocette, provencal. Why curry? Was it because you think Indian cooking is “the next big thing”? Is Indian cooking “so hot right now”? Is French cooking “boring” or “snooty”? Is that what you were thinking, Chef Michael?

Judge #3: I’m not going to lie, I’m getting suspicious here. You’re a cook at an Italian restaurant…where did you learn to use curry like this? Who taught you, and when? Did you sneak out back and get a quick lesson from an Indian chef in the alley? I’m no dummy, Chef Michael. When my wife started sleeping with her tennis instructor, I knew something was up. I didn’t know where they were meeting or when, I didn’t have proof, but I knew. Oh yes, I knew.


Judge #1: This cake is rich and moist, and roasting the coconut before sprinkling it on top was a brilliant idea. It makes me think of that Hawaiian vacation my father took us on when I was 12…as though a fancy vacation could make up for leaving us, as though ten days of “quality time” could make up for a lifetime of tears. That’s going to be hard for me to overlook, Chef Michael.

Judge #2: Your choice to bake the eggs and flour into a cake shows very little originality, Chef Michael, and it strikes an oddly celebratory note. “Let them eat cake,” is that what you’re thinking? Do you think cooking is about being happy? Do you think a chef’s life is supposed to be easy? Do you think that just because you’ve made it to the final round, the rest of your career is going to be smooth sailing? That’s what I thought when my restaurant got a rave review from the Times ten years ago. And then one day, it was gone. All gone.

Judge #3: The way you put the cake on the ice cream makes it melt, melt like my wife melted at the touch of that schmuck in white shorts. Thanks to my santoku, that schmuck doesn’t have his magic fingers any more…like you, Chef Michael, he’s been chopped.

Jay Gabler