The Serious Mistake Made On One Halloween Chopped Episode

Cooking competition shows can be seriously stressful, whether you're a home cook or a seasoned professional that is normally totally comfortable in the kitchen. Something about the combination of the ticking clock counting down the available time, the restrictions or parameters placed on particular challenges, and the camera's constant presence in the kitchen or cooking space all create a certain pressure-packed atmosphere that leads even professional chefs to make serious errors from time to time. There's one contestant on a seasonal Halloween episode of "Chopped" that made an error so bad it basically rendered her dish inedible, and it all came down to one missed task in the preparation process (via Food Network).

During the spooky Halloween episode of the show entitled "Fright Bites," chef Marja Samsom crafted a dish that definitely terrified the judges, although that wasn't quite the point of the challenge. Samson was preparing burritos for the judges, and during the cooking process she forgot to flip over the cutting board used to handle raw chicken, adding a heavy dose of contamination to her recipe as she used the same surface covered in raw chicken juices to prep some other ingredients needed for her dish.

The frightening consequences of Marja Samsom's error

Often, a cook whose station got a bit chaotic during the cooking process may get an eyebrow raise from the judges, but it doesn't really impact their overall dish. After all, it's about what you plate and serve to the judges, not about whether you tidied up your extra pots and pans. However, that rule only applies when food safety isn't a consideration, as it was in the case of Samsom's error (via Food Network). Raw chicken can contain a host of potential contaminants, including campylobacter bacteria, clostridium perfringens bacteria, and salmonella (via CDC). These potential contaminants aren't an issue when your chicken is cooked, but even if you serve perfectly cooked chicken, you have to take any surfaces that protein touched into consideration.

In ideal circumstances, you would use a separate cutting board to handle the raw meat, or you would wash everything that touched the raw chicken, from the knife to the cutting board, in hot, soapy water. However, at the very least, if you're crunched for time like the contestants are in cooking competition shows, you can flip over the cutting board so that the contaminated side is safely against the countertop and the clean side is available for other ingredients. In the hustle and bustle of the challenge Samsom simply forgot to flip over her board, and consequently served the judges a potentially unsafe dish.