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Chopped: Millennial sports programming

| Monday, January 21, 2019

I don’t really watch sports. I’ll follow the stats for the teams I like, but other than that, I really cannot understand the fervor behind televised sporting events. How can my father, and his father before him, watch not one, but four football games in a row whilst screaming adamantly at the TV, calling the plays before the players even know them themselves? Well, I didn’t understand — not until I discovered “Chopped.”

For me, “Chopped” is like a sporting event. For those unfamiliar, “Chopped” is a cooking competition on the Food Network during which four chefs compete with mystery ingredients that must be included in their dishes at the conclusion of each 30-minute round. It may be a cooking show, but it’s all about strategy and athleticism.

Each round requires each chef to exert a massive amount of energy, running to and fro to cut, chop, stir, season, flip and plate each piece of the meal. The most physical competitors always survive being chopped — they go the extra mile. You simply have not lived until you’ve seen a chef sprint to the pantry with seven seconds to go, grabbing the grated parmesan so they may elevate their plate’s panache and secure a spot in the second round. That garnish is like a touchdown dance — unnecessary, obnoxious and a little illegal, but memorable.

Like any good sport, there are champions, wildcards, underdogs and good-old Cinderella stories.

And then there’s the drama: the upsets and defeats. A world-renowned chef could compete on “Chopped,” crafting a dish they’ve prepared hundreds of times before, yet, in the heat of the moment, they finish the round just in time to realize they left out a basket ingredient. Flag down! That’s a fumble (and usually cause for the chef to lose the round).

Like the men in my family, I often find myself screaming at the TV during an episode of “Chopped.” Pistachio ice cream?! In 30 minutes?! You fool, you animal — everyone knows that the “Chopped” gods only allow the ice cream machine to work half the time. What will you do if your ice cream is runny, as it almost always is? Your cookies will not have time to cool, so even if your ice cream does set, it will turn soupy on the plate. Believe me, kid, I’ve seen it all before. Put me in the ring and I’ll make a classic bread pudding, which is the safest dessert to concoct in 30 minutes.

And, like any good football-loving dad, I, too, hope to live vicariously through my future son, not by signing him up for pee-wee football, but by training him to eventually compete on the new “Chopped Junior.” Then, my life will be complete and my cable bills will be paid.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Gina Twardosz

Gina Twardosz is a senior English Writing and Communication Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. She's the co-editor of the Investigative Unit, a Saint Mary's social media liaison, and she occasionally writes for SMC News and Scene. Gina is a tried and true Midwesterner and yes, she does say "ope" often.

Contact Gina