To make sure you're being your best couch potato self and to expand your TV experience, we're launching a new weekly feature that highlights the best shows on TV you're not currently watching.
Move over, Top Chef! So long, Hell's Kitchen! According to scientists (aka us!), Food Network's Chopped is officially the best reality cooking competition on TV.
Don't believe us? Fine, we'll just have to prove it by listing all the reasons why Chopped is one of the best TV shows you're not watching.
The Gist: Four chefs enter; one chef is crowned the winner by episode's end. Sounds simple enough, right? The challenge is the mystery basket (Oh, hi lamb testicles!), which contains four ingredients the chefs must utilize in some way. They only receive 20 minutes for the appetizer round, while the three advancing contestants get a new mystery basket and 30 minutes for the entree round. Finally, the last two chefs face off in the dessert round to win the $10,000 grand prize and earn praise from the show's esteemed judging panel (which rotates each episode) and dapper host Ted Allen. Talk about an intense work environment!
Why We Love It: It's everything you want in a cooking competition, without the petty drama that comes along with having the same chefs week in and week out fighting and coping 'tudes with each other. You meet four new chefs in every episode, and they stick around just long enough for you to get invested in their journey. But if you don't like them, it doesn't matter because they're all gone by the end of the episode! And if you do enjoy the petty drama that accompanies competition shows, you'll definitely get the right amount if one of the chefs has a giant ego. And there's always one in every episode.
Plus, if you're the kind to geek out over cooking techniques, learning about new foods and watching chefs make a delicious sauce out of ingredients like Skittles and green apple vodka, then guess what? Chopped has all of that, and so much more. You can't even handle the food knowledge that comes at your face in each episode. We could tell someone exactly how to handle durian and how to correctly pronounce gochujang. Can you do that? Better start watching Chopped!
The Stats: Food Network's top-rated series is in its 15th season (and its third season of All-Stars), 165 episodes deep. Your favorites could never.
Eye Candy: Where to begin? There's Italian virtuoso Scott Conant, the chef and owner of Scarpetta restaurants, whose ginger beard and fairy dust sprinkling of freckles will make it hard for you to concentrate on his critiques. There's also silver fox and Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, who is the walking embodiment of GQ magazine. Marcus Samuelsson, a freakin' James Beard winner (respect!), doesn't offend our eyes (or ears) either!
As for the ladies, there's the Alex Guarnaschelli, the no-nonsense Iron Chef and world-renowned executive chef whose critiques are as sharp as her knives, and Amanda Freitag, an in-demand New York City chef, who is so sweet she could almost give you a toothache.
Romance Factor: Ain't nobody got time for that!
Best Episode: Season eight, episode three, "Sweet Second Chance!" This featured contestants who had been eliminated in previous competitions. Spoiler alert: The ending will make you cry, for sure.
Best Season: Tough call, but the later seasons have better production value and a little more personality from the judges. But honestly, they're all awesome.
Repeat Watch Factor: Through the freakin' roof. You can watch the same episode two or three times and still get into the competition. Plus, there are so many chefs and ingredients coming through that kitchen, you almost always forget how each episode turns out. So watching reruns is almost like watching new episodes!
When You Can Watch: Chopped's third season of its popular All-Star tournament kicks off this Sunday at 9 p.m. on Food Network and runs through May 5. Watch it. Live it. Love it.
Is there a show you love that you feel is under appreciated? Leave a comment and we may feature it!