The Truth About Chopped's Bizarre Pilot Episode

Few cooking television shows are more instantly recognizable than Food Network's "Chopped." The program has been on since 2009, and each episode can take up to 12 hours to film, per Food Network. Millions of fans tune in to watch chefs prepare courses, as well as to see how the cooks thrive under the pressure of time constraints and when using a mystery basket of ingredients. Though audiences may come to see which competitor gets chopped, they also stay season after season for judges Alex Guarnaschelli and Maneet Chauhan, along with "Chopped's" lovable and inquisitive host Ted Allen. So, it might surprise fans to know just how different, and, frankly, quirky the pilot episode of "Chopped" was.

According to Thrillist, the pilot episode of the cooking competition show was completely different than the version we know and love today. Oddly enough, long before Allen captured the hearts of "Chopped" fans, the show's original host in the first episode was a butler. But instead of carrying a tray, this unidentified butler carried a Chihuahua. At this point, you're probably wondering what a small pooch has to do with cooking food. There's no correlation, really. Per Thrillist, whenever a chef was eliminated, their dish would be fed to the Chihuahua. The concept clearly didn't test well in the pilot episode, and Food Network producers nixed the idea. Fast forward to Allen being cast as host, much to the delight of the show's fans.  

Thank producer Linda Lea for the "Chopped" show we recognize today

Although there's no video evidence of "Chopped's" debut to live on in TV and internet infamy, Allen confirmed details and dished on the pilot episode in an interview with Vice. "Food Network got the pilot — which they spent actual money to make — and I think they kinda rolled their eyes and said, 'Okay, that's a little weird for us,'" the host explained, adding that he wishes he knew the Chihuahua's name, which, same! Food Network producer Linda Lea is credited with saving "Chopped," realizing its potential instead of scrapping it all together because of the original niche approach. Allen recalled to Vice that Lea thought the show should just be a "competition about chefs." 

It's been about 14 years since the unaired pilot episode and 12 years since "Chopped," as we know it, premiered. We're definitely glad Lea came along and saved the show. Now we get to sit on the edges of our seats watching chefs navigate shocking ingredients and compete for a $10,000 prize. But, if we're being completely honest, we would've loved to get a glimpse of that butler-and-Chihuahua duo.