TV Critic’s Corner

Basket of deplorables

Martha Stewart on “Chopped.”
Anders Krusberg
Martha Stewart on “Chopped.”

Sometimes it occurs to me that there are people who watch Food Network in order to learn how to cook, an idea which doesn’t sound crazy considering it’s a whole network of food. 

But if you’re watching a lot of Food Network, you are, as a function of that viewership, watching a lot of “Chopped.” 

And if you’re watching a lot of “Chopped,” you’re not learning how to cook, you’re learning to panic using fresh ingredients. 


Americans have been exposed to 36 seasons of “Chopped,” which is a lot of goat brains any way you slice it/them. And like chromium 6 through your Brita filter, it’s impossible to imagine that the show’s fundamentally flawed premise — that something delicious can be made out of anything technically edible — hasn’t contaminated thousands of American households with dishes like warm kohlrabi salad with stroopwafel croutons and Twizzler vinaigrette. 

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So it’s with a mix of elation and suspicion that I observe the arrival of new “recurring” judge Martha Stewart, where she joins the reliably furrowing brows and audibly scraping and tapping forks and knives (drives me crazy) of regular judges like Geoffrey Zakarian and Chris Santos. 

Suspicion because the Martha Stewart brand will only serve to further codify the show’s radical offal-pushing agenda, and without getting too far into it, I’ve had my fill of fringe elements upending every vestige of normalcy for the time being, thank you very much. How about we just make pancakes instead maybe?

And elation because if anyone can manage to slip an eighth of Lemon Kush into the “Chopped” basket, it’ll be Martha, who has spent the last couple years blazing in the kitchen with Snoop. That would be a microwave sponge cake I could get behind. (In fact, what exactly was in those camel milk chocolates she was handing out last week?)

In Tuesday’s new episode at 9 p.m., Martha brings “a special surprise from her garden” (oh come on!), and the contestants have to wrangle together something to feed her using Indian condiments and “nostalgic” canned food. 


Will it be good? Of course not. Will it inspire cousin Karen’s “Plenty for 20” casserole next Thanksgiving? The truth can be hard to swallow.

Michael Andor Brodeur can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @MBrodeur.