The Real Reason Chopped Judges Always Talk About Salt, According To Ted Allen

"Chopped" host Ted Allen is sticking behind his judges' fixation on salt. If you're a "Chopped" devotee, you're familiar with the ropes. Trying to whip up a risotto in 20 minutes means getting stuck between a rock and a hard place on "Chopped" (via Mashable). Using truffle oil on "Chopped" is akin to committing a cardinal sin. As Allen once tweeted, "It was trendy (a long time ago), & we don't like trendiness. It feels pretentious, now." And if you happen to compete on "Chopped" when strange ingredients come into play — Geoffrey Zakarian once told Mashed that river rat tastes like exactly what you think it tastes like — you've got your work cut out for you. But failing to salt a dish correctly while competing in the cooking competition? That means instant and almost always definitive doom. 

No, really. "Chopped" judges like unsalted and under-salted dishes just about as much as Cruella de Vil likes dalmatians. Here's why. 

Ted Allen explains "Chopped" judges' zeal for salt

Why do "Chopped" judges care about salt so much? A viewer recently reached out to Tom Allen via Twitter querying, "What is [Chopped's] obsession with salt, and why don't [judges] just grab a box of salt and eat it?" The TV personality answered with a fervent tweet that feels a little bit like he wanted the entire social media platform to hear his exasperated reminder.

"Appropriate seasoning is one of the most important factors in cooking," Allen posted. "Imagine a potato chip or french fry with no salt, whatsoever (shudder). I think that illuminates the point." (Or — back to Geoffrey Zakarian's horror story — imagine tasting river rat, unsalted. ) Allen further reminded "Chopped" fans that, "it is the chefs' job to taste their food and properly adjust the seasoning, not the judges" (via Twitter). Fair enough.

As for which salt contestants should use to season their dishes? Perhaps aspiring "Chopped" champions should look to Gordon Ramsay, who suggests sea salt for a more complex flavor profile (via Master Class).