Chefs, please open your baskets — and see what Alton Brown’s fans have in store for you.
The popular Food Network series “Chopped” is bringing back a tournament that really tests the skills of chefs in an unconventional way. Hosted by Ted Allen, the latest season of “Chopped: Alton’s Maniacal Baskets” is led by Brown himself, giving him complete control over the basket ingredients.
However, this year, Brown enlisted the help of his social media followers to suggest wild ingredients that the chefs will have to use.
“Alton has been providing chefs with bizarre ingredients for such a long time, and does so with quite apparent glee. He has great delight in these maniacal ingredients,” said Allen. “Alton has such a demanding social media presence. The only thing that could be more maniacal than letting Alton pick is to let his fans pick the ingredients. They love seeing us do awful things to these chefs.”
For this new round of “Chopped: Alton’s Maniacal Baskets,” 16 chefs will go head to head in a five-part tournament where they must incorporate the bizarre basket ingredients in three rounds to create an appetizer, entrée, and dessert, with judges Brown, Maneet Chauhan and Marcus Samuelsson determining the winners. The winners of four preliminary heats will face off in the grand finale featuring the biggest maniacal twist yet to see which chef goes home with the $50,000 cash prize.
The basket ingredients chosen by the fans include sticky beans, a weird wedding cake, a Scandanavian delicacy and something that may be staring back at the chefs when they open their baskets. According to Allen, regardless of the chef’s experience, “Chopped” can be anybody’s game.
“To be a good chef, you kind of to be a good control freak. Being a chef requires perfection and attention to detail, everything needs to be immaculately clean. On ‘Chopped,’ you’re a control freak with the control taken away,” said Allen. “There are lots of clear reasons why people like ‘Chopped.’ It might not be immediately obvious, but to surrender all control is different than a busy Saturday night at a restaurant. A lot of people who are truly great chefs in restaurants may not be able to contend with the loss of control.”
Allen also agrees that bringing Brown back for another season was a no-brainer, citing his years of experience in television and the culinary industry as factors in amping up the already exciting format that you find on “Chopped.”
“I’ve been working with Alton, he’s a chef himself that is deeply steeped in knowledge about how to cook but also how to make exciting food television,” said Allen. “I think it does amp up the pressure to have a learned palate like that, he’s such a fixture in the Food Network universe. He has a finely-honed sense of theatricality that came out the last time we did a tournament with him — we have the closh on the chopping block, and for dramatic effect he threw it and it slid until it hit the tennis show of a contestant. It made a huge noise and was such an awesome moment.”
The new season of “Chopped: Alton’s Maniacal Baskets” is on Food Network and discovery+