An Insider's Tour of the Chopped Set
On Set of the Chopped Kitchen
Located in New York City at Food Network's headquarters, the Chopped set features a judges' table, a hanging clock, and culinary work stations. The kitchen boasts four ovens and stovetops, an oversized sink, a deep refrigerator and dozens of pantry shelves stocked with nearly 300 ingredients total and countless tools and kitchen supplies.
Hallway of Disappointment
Once a competitor has been chopped, he or she is forced to exit the set through an orange-lined hallway.
Whether they've met their fate on the chopping block or survived to become a Chopped champion, each chef spends time in the interview room, located just outside the main show set. Notice in the lower left corner that there's a box of tissues at the ready; oftentimes these interviews turn emotional.
Stocked and Simmering
When the chefs arrive on set, they're given a 10-minute walk-through of the kitchen so that they're familiar with the appliances and where ingredients are located. While competitors are allowed to bring no more than seven of their own knives, items like cutting boards, three saucepans and a meat thermometer will be waiting for them at their cooking stations, and pots of water will already be boiling.
At a Glance
Opposite the pantry in the back of the room is the judges' table. There, host Ted Allen and three members of the panel sit during each episode to watch the battle unfold; their unobstructed seats allow for a clear view of the chefs as they tackle ingredients at their stations and run to the pantry for supplies.
On the Clock
Just above the judges' table hangs the ever-ticking clock. Along with the mystery baskets, the clock may be the most-feared element by the competitors.
Within the dual refrigerator lies more than 70 products, including various herbs, whole milk and heavy cream, fresh berries and butter.
Red or White
Food Network's entwine is the wine of choice in the Chopped kitchen, with bottles like Merlot and Pinot Grigio from which to choose.
The Chopped Bar
In addition to red and white wine, a selection of liquors is available, and after each round, the bottles are consolidated.
Competitors may be required to incorporate unusual ingredients like shad roe sacs, pigs' ears and eel into their offerings, but that doesn't mean they don't rely on a stock of staples like potatoes, onions and salt to form the basis of their dishes and flavor them appropriately.
Next to the meat grinder and various sieves lie two water-based pieces of equipment: the sous vide machine and immersion circulator. The show's culinary producers noted that these are among the least-used, oddest appliances in the kitchen.
Basket of Trinkets
Just like in many at-home kitchens, there's a single bin that holds a variety of unrelated gadgets and tools. There chefs can find can openers, brushes, slotted spoons and a food mill.
Collection of Citrus
Just a squeeze of refreshing orange, lemon or lime juice is all it takes to brighten a dish and add light, zesty flavors without a lot of effort. The shelves are stocked with pounds of citrus so there's never a shortage of it when needed.
While the anti-griddle, used to quickly chill a layer of ingredients, is simple enough to maneuver and guarantees somewhat consistent results, the ice-cream machine has proven to be doomed for many competitors. One culinary producer working behind the scenes noted that during her time on the show, she witnessed "a spoon getting sucked into it."
Fresh loaves of bread, ready-to-go pizza dough and various tortillas are waiting to be used on the forwardmost shelf in the pantry.
Several years ago the show introduced a "molecular section" in the pantry, stocked with various chemicals and products including sodium alginate, isomalt, xanthan gum and agar-agar. "We are always appreciative of ideas for the pantry — anything to make the show more interesting," the culinary producer explained.
While the Chopped kitchen is surely packed with oddball tools and seemingly foreign machines, it's also equipped with appliances that home cooks utilize daily. The basic stand mixer, microwave and wooden spoons are available to the competitors just as the more obscure anti-griddle, ice-cream machine and smoking gun are.
Tucked away in a far corner of the kitchen is the rarely used smoking gun, complete with an array of hickory, mesquite and other types of wood chips. In Season 4 of Chopped Champions, the eventual runner-up used the tool to infuse a warm flavor into whipped cream in the dessert round.
With eight different varieties of vinegar like mirin, balsamic and champagne on the pantry shelves, the chefs are able to balance potentially heavy dishes with welcome acidic tastes.
Want More Chopped?
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