Everything We Know About Alton Brown's New Series, Chopped: Alton's Maniacal Baskets

Beginning on June 22, 2021, Alton Brown will join "Chopped" for a five part special tournament called "Chopped: Alton's Maniacal Baskets." It will premiere at 9 p.m. on the Food Network and be available for streaming on Discovery+ with episodes released on a weekly basis.

The Food Network explains in an announcement on their website that for these episodes, Brown has taken on suggestions from his fan base to prepare purposefully difficult ingredients for the contestants. While the details of what ingredients these are have not been shared, obviously, the episode description given by the Food Network for their scheduling hints that the appetizer will involve a challenging texture, the entrée will present competitors with "some sticky beans and a peculiar salad [that] are shockers," and desert will draw from wild ingredients. "When the Chopped producers said they wanted to ask my fans for basket suggestions," Brown said in a press release shared with Mashed, "I knew we were in for a wild ride. But I wasn't prepared for this. No one, is prepared for this. Honestly, in this case 'maniacal' is a soft, fuzzy puppy compared to this stuff. It's just ... wrong." 

From a man whose career reached fame because of a show where he explored the science of cooking, that hesitancy promises viewers schadenfreude for the upcoming "Chopped" episodes. 

The same faces doing the same things

On Facebook, the reaction to the Food Network's announcement had some pro-Brown responses and some anti-Brown sentiments, but these were tempered by a relief that Martha Stewart was leaving. "Can't wait," one wrote. "Love 'Chopped' and love Alton Brown. Not a Martha Stewart fan so glad that is over."

Similar feelings towards Stewart were aired when her involvement with "Chopped" was first announced in early April. The overriding feeling at the time was that Stewart has been around and around and around. Other people should have a chance to host shows. The same can be said about Brown and, in fact, was. "The Food Network is just the same people doing the same thing in 15 different shows," one commenter opined underneath the Facebook announcement. 

The fact the names we talk about now are largely unchanged from the names we talked about a decade ago shows that some sifting should occur to balance new talent with familiar faces. Still, barring the structural change of the rather conservative Food Network, we can enjoy the squirming of chefs faced with whatever Brown demands of them.