We Attempted At-Home Chopped and This Is What Happened
Two young, unexperienced “chefs” living amidst the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic decided to battle it out in the kitchen for a round of Chopped because, well, what else is there to do?
Attempting to play Food Network’s Chopped at home was no small feat.
My sister and I had the idea to play a round because (1) what else are we up to besides work and (2) we thought it would be a fun test of our abilities in the kitchen.
When we were young, say elementary and middle school, we would attempt to play Chopped, but our expertise was quite limited. One time, I think a secret ingredient was a tomato, and, yes, that was a difficult item for us to deal with.
Come to quarantine, we decided to go for it again, sister versus sister, to see what we could accomplish. It wasn’t until we started that we realized what we got ourselves into.
At the end of the day, we all had a lot of fun.
It was a bit stressful but really rewarding. If you decide to play Chopped at home, you have to look at it like any sport or game. It can take the energy out of you, but you do it for the fun and competition.
Here’s the thing you don’t consider: On the show they have a spectacular kitchen stocked with the freshest produce and the dishes magically disappear between rounds. For our version, we were working with a quarantine pantry (aka LIMITED) and shared kitchen appliances. Jackie had a cutting board smaller than the standard piece of paper.
Because of this, we simplified the secret ingredients and we bumped up the time allotment…by a lot. It’s almost comical. But hey, we’re not professional nor do we claim to be.
If you would like to play Chopped and want some tips on how to do it, check out my 5 Tips on How to Play Chopped At Home below.
If you would like to see how our competition went, check out the recap video above. It will NOT disappoint.
Here is my dish from the competition; I made an Asian-inspired shrimp taco.
5 Tips on How to Play Chopped At Home
1. Take to Instagram for the Mystery Ingredients
A week before the competition my sister and I, along with an impartial judge, decided on 8 potential secret ingredients items that I would post on my Instagram for my followers to vote on. We couldn’t let my followers pick whatever they wanted because we were limited to what was in stock in our quarantine pantry.
I posted the options on my Instagram story a week before the competition and had one of the judges record the results. The four items with the highest number of votes were selected and ultimately placed in the basket (a Trader Joe’s bag).
2. Set Up a Pantry in Advance
In an effort to prevent my sister from saying she didn’t know the pantry as well as I do, I decided to set up a makeshift pantry in our dining room. It ended up making things so much easier for us.
Since we were already working in a tight space sharing one stovetop, this helped prevent us from being on top of each other constantly. If you are trying to do the traditional 20-minute round, this is a must.
3. Prep the Workstation
Prior to the competition, I set up our workstations with essential cooking supplies. Since we have limited utensils, I divvied what we had between each station, including things like a chef’s knife, sauté pans and mixing bowls.
Another quick tip is to start a pot of boiling water just before the competition begins. This is something they already do on Chopped to help save the chefs time. Look for it the next time you watch.
4. Bump Up the Time
As I have alluded to multiple times throughout this post, you’re going to want to bump up the time. The Chopped kitchen is efficient and well designed. Deep fryers are prepped, produce is clean, utensils are plentiful, and appliances are abundant. This makes a BIG difference with the time.
And, I will say it again, my sister and I are not professional chefs. Neither of us have ever worked in a professional kitchen nor do we have plans to at the moment.
We gave ourselves an hour to complete our dishes. If one of us had to keep going past that allotment, we were going to keep going. Since our competition was dinner for our family, we were not willing to serve raw food.
If you are in the position where you want to go all the way and have a firm time, go for it. Just consider giving yourself more than 20 minutes.
5. Give the Judges a Scorecard
**Major Spoiler Alert: So… our judges found it too difficult to pick a winner. Whether they didn’t want to hurt feelings or they didn’t fully understand what they were judging, the problem could have been avoided with a scorecard.
Our questionably qualified judges seemed to make their decision based on how good of a dinner our dishes were. I should have seen this coming.
With this in mind, here is the scorecard breakdown I would suggest if you play Chopped at home.
10 points: use of the secret ingredients
10 points: creativity
10 points: overall taste
To all you novice chefs out there, give it a try! You don’t have to be a restaurant chef to test your culinary abilities and get creative in the kitchen. Playing Chopped at home was a blast, and the whole fam had a great time partaking.
So, go sink into your couch, watch a Chopped marathon, and get inspired to take on the task of an at-home Chopped challenge. Or, if I haven’t convinced ya, hopefully my Chopped debut in the recap was entertainment enough. :)