If there is ever a cooking show that tests a chef's ingenuity, tenacity, speed and skill, Chopped has to be it.
Fronting the hit series is Ted Allen, who has been hosting it since its launch in 2009.
Allen, an American cookbook author and culinary expert, first gained visibility in 2003 when he was a cast member of the reality TV makeover series Queer Eye For The Straight Guy and served as its food and wine connoisseur.
After Queer Eye ended in 2007, the journalism graduate from New York University became a regular judge on reality TV cooking series Top Chef before Chopped came along.
Now into its 19th season (it airs on Mondays at 9pm on Food Network, StarHub Ch 433), the US reality TV series pits four chefs against each other before a panel of three tough judges.
Course by course, the contestants are "chopped" until only the winner remains.
Season 20 premieres on Food Network on March 16 at 9pm.
The 49-year-old Emmy-winning host tells M via e-mail that he considers himself "lucky" to have found "such a perfect fit that matches (his) passions".
You have come a long way since Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. What are your culinary passions?
I am still a contributing writer for (US) Esquire magazine. I have always been pretty passionate about the culinary arts, and I have loved cooking since I was a kid.
You have been with Chopped since day one. How does it feel to be part of such a successful, long-running show?
I feel very honoured. Not only do I consider myself lucky to work with some of the most esteemed chefs in the world, but we are all friends.
And at the end of the day, when work is also fun, there is nothing better.
How has the show changed over the years? What about the contestants?
One of the great aspects about Chopped is that you don't necessarily have to be an acclaimed chef to compete.
We have had episodes featuring elite chefs competing against each other, but also armed service members, firefighters and even a tournament featuring teenagers.
What really makes Chopped stand out from other culinary competitions is the variety of competitors who come on the show, their individual stories and, of course, the mystery basket ingredients.
To viewers at home, it seems impossible to create a meal out of these ingredients, but it is always amazing to see what these talented chefs can come up with, all while working against the clock, which is often the most difficult part of any challenge.
In Season 19, viewers will get to see some interesting ingredients in the mystery baskets, along with fun new episodes, including grandmothers facing off against each other.
We have seen some angry reactions from contestants who have been "chopped". How do you deal with such behaviour? Does it happen a lot?
There have been a few over the years.
But this is understandable as tensions are high and every competitor entering the Chopped kitchen is giving it their all to try and win the US$10,000 (S$13,600).
This article was first published on Feb 25, 2015.
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