Did Martha Stewart Convince Geoffrey Zakarian to Start Using Chopsticks for Everything?

Any longtime fan of Food Network is all too familiar with the rotating cast that makes up guest judges. Our favorite competition shows like Chopped frequently feature culinary celebrities who taste and rate participant’s dishes. And, just as the judges judge the food… we as viewers judge the judges

When these guest stars have the power to send favored chefs home, it’s only natural that audience members greet them with a bit of scrutiny. One common subject of this suspicion is Geoffrey Zakarian, who fans have called out for eating everything with chopsticks. 

Geoffrey Zakarian is a Food Network staple

Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart | David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

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Food Network has dubbed Zakarian a “master of modern American cuisine” in his official talent biography and, given his resumé, we can’t help but agree. He has opened, managed, and conceptualized some of the top restaurants across the East and West Coasts — even taking his talents into hotels and international cruise lines. Zakarian has also authored two wildly successful cookbooks… and all of this is outside his constant appearances on various Food Network sets. 

In 2011, Zakarian appeared on the set of The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs and, after winning the title, never really left the network. He regularly appears as a Chopped judge, Best Thing I Ever Ate participant, and is even a co-host for The Kitchen. Zakarian never got his own string of television shows, in the style of Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri, but it seems as though the restaurateur has enough on his plate. 

Fans noticed Zakarian’s preference for chopsticks

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Zakarian’s presence behind the Chopped judging table often sparks fear in contestants and rage in fans. Over the years, the Iron Chef has had his qualifications questioned, with some feeling that his ego is bigger than his talent. Still, Food Network has deemed that Zakarian has earned his place next to some of the world’s other top chefs, including Martha Stewart. 

Stewart, a controversial figure in her own right, is known for her down-to-earth home cooking (and a brief prison stint). Chopped viewers have also come to know her as fiercely loyal to chopsticks, a habit that allegedly appeared following the chef’s visit to China.

Though the utensil’s presence on the show was initially viewed as a Stewart quirk, audience members were incensed when they noticed Zakarian doing the same. 

A user of the r/FoodNetwork community on Reddit began the sound off with a simple complaint: “Zarkarian ate his ice cream with chopsticks. He is so absurd”. For many, this was all the prompting needed to air all of their complaints about the celebrity judge. Viewers branded him as pompous and pretentious, although some offered a logical explanation. 

According to u/ThickBeardedDude, “Metal utensils affect the taste of food. Chopsticks are more neutral.” Zakarian may have picked up the habit from his co-judge in pursuit of better flavors. 

The celebrity chef is frequently the subject of ridicule

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Still, a reasonable explanation for his chopstick use may not be enough to exonerate Zakarian in the eyes of some foodies. He has faced previous controversies related to underpaying his employees, with Eater recalling his convenient declaration of bankruptcy before the charges could be settled. 

In other legal trouble, Zakarian actually faced a lawsuit from the Trump Organization. According to the Washington Post, the chef pulled out of a restaurant deal for one of Trump’s luxury hotels following the former president’s derogatory comments on the campaign trail. Disappointingly, the case was settled out of court, as opposed to in an Iron Chef showdown.