(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The SeriesChopped

Where You Can Stream It: Hulu

The Pitch: There are three rounds. Mandatory mystery ingredients for each course. If your dish doesn’t cut it, you will be chopped.

Why It’s Essential Viewing: Until recently, food competition shows had a reputation for being cutthroat television, edited for maximum drama and intensity. They weren’t about the food as much as they were about the spectacle that could unfold in the pressure cooker environment like a professional kitchen — and occasionally a fun test for how many exotic ingredients you know. But more genial cooking shows have become all the rage recently, with the influx of nicecore shows like The Great British Baking Show or Nailed It! However, even those shows are less about the food and more about the bright personalities of its contestants or judges. But the Food Network’s insanely addicting Chopped offers the perfect median. A competition show that pits four chefs against each other over three courses, each of which are required to be made with a basket of mystery ingredients, Chopped sounds like it could represent the worst of cooking reality shows. But a panel of strict judges who never fall for the contestant sob story, and a competition that gives loving attention to the dishes and cooking technique, makes Chopped the rare cooking competition show that values the food first and foremost.

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