I hate cooking. The process of driving to the store, finding the ingredients, waiting in line, waiting in the parking lot because the Ford Taurus is backing out come hell or high water, driving home, waiting for the stove to heat up, waiting for the food to cook, and waiting for the food to cool down just to enjoy a meal that is gone in three minutes stands in direct opposition to everything the cavemen froze to death for, unless we evolved as a species so that meals could be a civilized frustration instead of a barbaric one. (I hope this site isn’t viewable in Africa, but I’m fairly certain the #whitepeopleproblems hashtag movement knows no borders.) Despite the mundane process of cooking, I find myself enthralled by Chopped, a cooking competition aired on the Food Network. It’s funny that TV networks will cohabitate a group of people calculated to hate each other on The Real World, find people who view friendship as a weakness on Survivor, and construct diabolical contraptions on Fear Factor, but for maximum entertainment, all that’s required is a kitchen. The quick and dirty of it, for those who haven’t seen the show, is that the contestants give a personal spiel about their impetuses for cooking (usually with pathos designated for a minority achievement award), the mystery ingredients throw them for a loop, the judges temper even a perfect dish with a nitpick, and they all convene in the back kitchen to express faux insecurity, like they had studied 12 hours for an exam and still tried to commiserate with the slackers in the hallway. How entertaining can the show get? I’m so glad you asked, no one. I present to you: The Unauthorized Chopped Drinking Game.
Take a Sip
- When the dramatic noise plays after a major cooking error is realized. Skip this one if you have a low tolerance.
- The contestant pushes a vegan/green/organic/hippie bullshit agenda. Actually heard on Chopped: “I want to communicate the human experience through the medium of sushi.”
- The contestant wants to prove that women are just as good at cooking as men. Because no one has ever joked about a woman’s only rightful place being in the kitchen.
- The contestant wants to win because he/she wants to give back to his/her mother. I’ve seen this one so many times that it almost warrants just a sip. Make it a double shot if the contestant whips out the “My Mother Taught Me This Way” in a last-ditch effort to justify a bad cooking decision.
- Race Card! I don’t understand this one. Could there be a more level playing field than cooking? “I loved the duck confit, but your dish lacked a distinct Caucasian flavor.”
- One of the judges is overly critical simply because the other two judges are getting more air time. This is a judgment call, but it’s usually an easy one.
- Ted Allen interviews a contestant while he/she is cooking. I don’t know why they are so inconsistent in doing this; it’s always entertaining. “Chef Robert, what are your thoughts on the mixture of mountain yam and licorice?” “Well, I – where is the mixing bowl?! I grew up around licorice and, ah fuck, it’s burning.”
- Bleeped out swear word. It’s usually pretty standard, but occasionally a ninety pound Asian woman will let it fly, thus unveiling the façade of her cool demeanor.
- The contestant fails to get all their food on the plate.
- The contestant accidentally leaves out a mystery ingredient. Triple shot if the omission was purposeful. Quadruple shot if the purposeful omission doesn’t cause the chef to be eliminated.
- A pan catches on fire. I figured this stuff happens all the time in cooking, but the judges consistently react as though a relative brought up politics at the dinner table.
- The contestant bleeds on the food. Triple shot if he/she gives the food to the judges without knowing about the blood.
- The contestant fires back at one of the judges criticisms. I once saw a contestant go at it with a judge when he didn’t flip over or wipe down his cutting board. The ensuing staredown was the Cuban Missile Crisis of my generation.
- A judge complains about the food only because he/she hates eating that ingredient. Scott Conant’s disdain for red onions is a classic example of the closed-mindedness destroying our cooking culture today. (I need to stop watching this show.)
- A contestant acknowledges the skills of a rival contestant. (Small talk in the To Be Chopped room does not count.)
- None of the judges are Alex Guarnaschelli. Seriously, enough of her already.
- A judge finds bones in a dish.
- The contestant thinks he/she is brilliant and innovative for making an ice cream or a sorbet. YOU AREN’T. THEY ALL DO.
- A contestant claims to be much better than all the other chefs. Make it a shot of gin if said contestant doesn’t make it to the final round because karma tastes sweet.
- A male contestant cries. Come on, dude. It’s a cooking show.
- A contestant claims to have never seen a mystery ingredient before. 4 shots if he/she is obviously lying and crushes it that round.
- A contestant asks to use another chef’s grill/oven.
- From the judges: “I wanted to stop eating.” “I wanted to spit it out.” “This was terrible.” “I refuse to eat this.”
- Amanda Freitag smiles during the food reviews. Like, with all her teeth showing and not in a smug way.
- Aaron Sanchez is mean, not critical, to a contestant. Take an extra shot if the host does not use a noun on par with god, maven, or leading authority for Sanchez and Latin food.
- A chef dominates the other contestant in the dessert round but loses anyway. This usually upsets me, unless the other contestant was leagues better in the appetizer and entrée round. Why even put a chef through the paces of the dessert round if it was decided in advance?
- A contestant walks off the show before getting chopped, excluding injury. I’ve only seen this once and the storm out was warranted. Judge Geoffery Zakarian was being especially self-righteous.
That should be enough for now. Enjoy the show, but if the unholy triumvirate of Zakarian, Freitag, and Guarnaschelli ever occurs, turn off the TV and run. It’s the first sign of Cthulu’s awakening. (Side Note of Vanity: I did a Google search for this article and I discovered the existence of another, albeit less thorough, Chopped drinking game. Kudos to that person for also noticing Scott Conant’s onion phobia. We also shared crying, forgetting an ingredient, sharing an appliance and cutting oneself, but those were a given.)