Abby Hocking

Plus, the worst thing he's ever eaten on the show. 

Elisabeth Sherman
June 16, 2018

My nightly routine at the moment consists of coming home from work, making a cup of tea, and putting on Chopped. The competition, judged by a rotating panel of chefs including Alex Guarnaschelli, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Marcus Samuelsson, tends to be a high-anxiety affair during which the dreams of chefs are crushed over an overcooked lamb chop or a pannacotta that just didn’t solidify, helps me to unwind.

As much I love the show—consistently entertaining and surprisingly educational—there’s one thing that really bothers me (and a lot of other fans as it turns out) about the set up of the Chopped kitchen: There’s only one ice cream machine available to the competitors. Obviously, the Food Network can afford another—I mean, every station is outfitted with a Vitamix. If you suspect that the lack of additional ice cream machines is merely a tactic to create drama, you're probably right. Samuelsson confirmed as much at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen this weekend.

During one of his cooking demonstrations, an audience member asked the chef why the show doesn’t provide additional ice cream makers to the desperate cooks. Sure, another ice cream maker would make their lives easier, but that's not really the point is it?

“We want it to be a run for that, right?” he explained. “It’s really for creating that level of semi-chaos. It’s really like cooking on a treadmill. It’s not easy at all.”

So yes, the Food Network totally does manufacture drama by only providing one ice cream machine (same thing with the deep fryer), and you know what? It works. On almost every episode, it’s a showdown to see which chef makes it to the ice cream machine in the dessert round. The chef who isn’t lucky enough to get there in time has to come up with a Hail Mary plan B, and trust me when I say it doesn’t always go well.

Samuelsson wasn’t done dishing out secrets from the Chopped kitchen, though. He also revealed the worst thing he’s ever eaten on the show and a couple strange-sounding dishes that he actually loved.

“I had rat that was not good. I’ve had lamb testicles, and that was very good. And the other week, I had pig uterus that was good.”

Samuelsson doesn’t dismiss those dishes though. In fact, he welcomes the opportunity to try food from a diverse set of cultures.

Food is something that we all share, and what’s strange in one culture is normal in another culture. Coming from Sweden, it’s normal to eat fermented herring," he said. Then he paused, and his signature mischevious grin appeared on his face. "But that shouldn’t be normal anywhere.”