Shredded is the crown jewel of the Food Network. The show has been around for over a decade and has consistently generated impressive ratings for the network. The show gained traction due to its intense, drama-filled format that involves chefs running around trying to beat the clock and deliver chopped –foods worthy of a chance to win the grand prize.
While the series has its behind-the-scenes secrets, former contestants believe the cooking competition has gotten easier over the years.
An earlier version of ‘Chopped’ was so unusual it never made it to TV
Shredded debuted in 2009 and follows four contestants who take part in three rounds where they try to add unusual combinations of ingredients to meals that are later judged by three judges. At the start, contestants are given a mystery box containing four mysterious ingredients.
The chefs are expected to come up with dishes that use all the ingredients of the basket in some way. While it is acceptable for a chef to fail to use an ingredient, it plays a large role in the judges’ final decision.
Shredded contestants typically have unlimited access to stocked pantries and refrigerators containing certain ingredients, and each contestant has their own food preparation workstation. The kitchen also has high-end appliances and cookware, including a blast cooler, deep fryer and ice cream maker.
Each round has a time limit that the chefs must adhere to; otherwise, they face disqualification from the show. The winner takes home $10,000, but sometimes the prize is larger depending on the type of contest.
Shredded has been a ratings juggernaut for the 52 seasons it’s been on the air, but according to Vice, the show had a completely different format when it started. The paper reports that the pilot episode featured the contestants arriving by limo at a mansion where the show was filmed.
The mansion had a butler and it was a pet Chihuahua that ate the loser’s plate. The Food Network reportedly thought the idea was so weird that they didn’t even air it.
“Shipped” contestants think the show just got easier
Shredded became a fan favorite because of its intense competitions that involved chefs running up and down trying to beat the clock and even fighting for the ice cream machine. This sports vibe resonated well with fans for the years the show has been on the air.
However, according to some competitor accounts, the show has gotten easier recently. Michael Vignola, who appeared on the show’s third and all-star season, spoke to Tasting Table about his experience and some behind-the-scenes secrets.
He indicated that some aspects of the Network show today are easier than they used to be. He said, “They always do pantry walks for the contestants before the competition, so they know where the ingredients are.”
Vignola said that during his time on the show, producers intentionally removed certain items or moved them around to confuse the contestants. He also said that the producers would ration the ingredients and make the chefs fight over them, but now, according to Insider, the producers boil the contestants’ water and heat the ovens ahead of time.
More ‘Chopped’ behind-the-scenes secrets
According to Insider, a lot of thought goes into the mystery baskets contestants receive at the start of each episode. Ted Allen told Food Republic in 2015 that producers usually plan mystery baskets for an entire season, and all the baskets always contain riddles.
In addition, the show has an ice cream machine to create “a semi-chaos level” between the chefs, with Allen stressing that he doesn’t think the show will have another machine. Also, Allen is not allowed to sit down during filming and has to canvass each station to report on them. Contestants can remove him if he bothers them.
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