‘Chopped’: Contestants Are Allowed to Bring This 1 Kitchen Tool From Home

Chopped has been on Food Network since 2009. Over the course of more than a decade, the show has become one of Food Network’s most popular, featuring new chefs each week who compete for the grand prize of $10,000.

For the most part, everything is ready for the chefs when they arrive at the Chopped kitchen — but there is one kitchen tool they’re allowed to bring themselves.

The 'Chopped' judges attend a Discovery Communications Summer TCA Event 2018
The ‘Chopped’ judges attend a Discovery Communications Summer TCA Event 2018 | Amanda Edwards/Getty Images for Discovery, Inc.

‘Chopped’ mystery baskets are truly a mystery to contestants

There are plenty of things about reality shows and competitions that aren’t real. After all, nothing on TV is exactly as it seems. But one thing Chopped contestants can expect is this: They have no idea what awaits them in their mystery basket.

With each leg of the competition, contestants are met with a “mystery basket,” which holds the ingredients they must use to create their next dish — whether it’s an appetizer, entrée, or dessert. And, according to reports, those mystery baskets are not seen by the contestants prior to being opened at the start of each round.

According to Insider, former Chopped contestants don’t get to peek at the baskets ahead of time, nor do they have any additional time to develop a recipe. Contestants are, however, given a tour of the show’s pantry so that they have a slight idea of where things are prior to the clock starting.

'Chopped' host Ted Allen (Center) with winners Mario Hernandez (left) and Stephen Yen
‘Chopped’ host Ted Allen (Center) with winners Mario Hernandez (left) and Stephen Yen | Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for NYCWFF

The ‘Chopped’ chefs are allowed to bring their own set of knives to the show

When it comes to the Chopped kitchen, nothing is allowed in from the outside — well, almost nothing. The contestants are required to use the kitchen’s appliances and most of their kitchen tools. They also, for obvious reasons, can’t bring in any additional ingredients to use in their recipes.

The contestants can, however, bring a set of knives with them. Insider reports that those on the show can bring up to seven knives to cut, slice, and chop. It’s unclear exactly why this is the only outside kitchen utensil allowed. The most obvious explanation, though, is that the chefs might be more likely to cut themselves if they were to use an unfamiliar set of knives.

Ovens, microwaves, etc. on set might operate a bit differently than the ones the competitors are used to, but they ultimately aren’t a danger the way knives could be. And if a contestant does get cut while cooking, they need to call a medic, which cuts into their competition time.


Did You Know the ‘Chopped’ Judges Taste Food Before It’s on the Judging Table?

It takes a whole day to film one ‘Chopped’ episode 

Filming doesn’t run as smoothly as it appears on TV. There is actually plenty of time in between competition rounds. And people might have noticed that the show never catches the chefs cleaning up their work stations after a competition.

It turns out that it takes a full day to film one 60-minute episode. Contestants wake up around 4:30 a.m., put on comfortable clothes, and report to the Chopped kitchen. The entire process moves far more slowly than it does on TV, though the chefs do only get the allotted amount of time to cook their dishes that’s seen on the show.