The Chopped Judges Reveal What They Love Most About Their Jobs

Have you ever wondered what responsibility comes with being on the Chopped judging panel? We asked the judges to share what they feel is the best thing about being a part of the show.

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Susan Magnano

Photo By: Susan Magnano

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Susan Magnano

Photo By: David Lang ©© 2014,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Susan Magnano

Inspiring the Next Generation of Chefs — Alex Guarnaschelli

For judge Alex, even though it's fun to watch the relationships the judges and the host have with one another and with the contestants, the heart of the show is what she likes best: "It's really about up-and-coming chefs and the ideas that they have, and inspiring America to cook though a diverse body of ingredients," she says.

There's Always Something New to Learn — Chris Santos

"I've done over a hundred episodes now, and I don't think there's been one day where I've ever gone in and I haven't learned something," says Chris when asked what the best part is for him. "I either learn something listening to my fellow judges talk about a dish or an ingredient, or I learn something from chefs in the way they make food."

It Doesn't Feel Like a Job — Geoffrey Zakarian

Geoffrey puts it plain and simple: "The best part about my job is it’s not a job. I get up, go to work, I don’t feel like I’m working. I come home, I’m tired, but I don’t feel like I’ve been working."

Helping Raise Awareness — Marc Murphy

For Marc the best thing is the impact the show has outside of the studio. "All of us on Chopped, all the judges, you know, we do a lot of philanthropic work. We’re always raising money," he says. "Right now Share Our Strength, No Kid Hungry, we’re trying to help kids out in this country, and I think … probably the most-important part of our job right now is we have that platform to be able to do that."

Inspiring a Nation of Foodies — Maneet Chauhan

Maneet gives a recent example of why she loves her job so much: "I was at a Starbucks getting some coffee, and a lady came up to me and she’s like, 'You’re the judge from Chopped, right?' and I was like, 'Yeah.' And we started talking, and it's amazing to see how people are being affected, that they go and try ingredients, they try the cooking techniques based on seeing this." 

An Opportunity to Speak to New Chefs — Scott Conant

"When we started doing this in the very beginning, the reason that it was interesting to me and continues to this day … is because it's really an opportunity to speak to young chefs, and have them be a little bit more thoughtful about the decisions they make in cooking," says Scott about his responsibility as a judge. "I feel like it kind of opens up some discussion, it opens up some ideas, it allows people to be a little bit creative," he adds.

Every Day Is a New Adventure — Amanda Freitag

"I think what I love most about it is that it never gets old," says Amanda of the show. "You never know what's going to happen." She adds, "You have four brand-new chefs, three rounds of baskets, and they're all different. … Somebody who you think is not going to do well could be the winner. Somebody could fall down and cut themselves and make a great recovery. … [There are] just so many things that can happen in a competition, and it’s never the same."

Loving the Extended Family — Marcus Samuelsson

"[It's being a] part of the Chopped family," says Marcus of what he loves most about his job as judge. He clarifies that he doesn’t mean just the people you see on TV: "Everyone on set is amazing, and they really do act like a family." He also is proud to see the difference the show has made with the audience at home. "We are shaping how America eats and how they think about food," he says.

A Play Within a Play — Aarón Sánchez

For Aaron, the best thing about being involved with Chopped is being part of a greater story. He explains: "You're a part of this kind of play, this story of life unfolding through food, and that's what makes Chopped so amazing. It has a lot of peaks and valleys, it has triumph, it has failure, it has perseverance, it has all the subplots and the plots that make life real and enjoyable, and it's on display every day when I walk into work at Chopped."

Bonus: Enjoying the Friendships on Set — Ted Allen

"I'd say the best thing for me is the relationships that I have with all of our judges and our camera operators in particular and our director and our staff," says Ted, going on and on about working with each member of the cast and crew that he's come to know over the many seasons. "We're tight friends, we finish each other's sentences and we joke all day, and it's fun. It's just rowdy fun."

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