Orlando Sentinel

‘Chopped’ takes on cannabis and Gen Z on Discovery Plus

- By Brian Steinberg

“Chopped,” that Food Network perennial, is getting a few new ingredient­s.

When the Discovery-owned outlet launches two new versions of the long-running series on streaming-video hub Discovery Plus, it will do with an aim to win younger audiences to its cause. “Chopped 420” gives four chefs the chance to incorporat­e cannabis or cannabis-infused ingredient­s into their recipes while “Chopped Next Gen” focuses on younger chefs. Both series last five episodes.

Executives have considered what mainstay series might work as a spinoff aimed at niche crowds, says Courtney White, Food Network’s president.

“Chopped,” she says, had the right dishes on the menu. “I think you have to have a really powerful franchise to be able to experiment this way.”

In “Chopped 420,” comedian Ron Funches challenges four chefs to create an appetizer, entree and dessert from a mystery basket of ingredient­s. They will vie for a $10,000 grand prize. The series marks the first time cannabis has been used in the “Chopped” franchise.

In “Next Gen,” host Liza Koshy challenges Gen Z chefs as they grapple with ingredient­s such as uni, cured tuna hearts and baby bananas.

The new shows come as Discovery, like many of its competitor­s in the media sector, moves more directly into on-demand streaming video. Discovery Plus, which launched in January, is one of a series of new broadband ventures that include NBCUnivers­al’s Peacock, ViacomCBS’ Paramount Plus and WarnerMedi­a’s HBO Max. Discovery has stocked its site with hundreds of episodes of documentar­y and reality programmin­g from networks like TLC, HGTV and Discovery Channel.

In “Chopped 420,” comedian Ron Funches challenges four chefs to create an appetizer, entree and dessert from a mystery basket of ingredient­s. JOHN WOLFSOHN/GETTY 2019

Food Network’s to see and avoid content White says some the they feel isn’t for them. program extensions The linear network would defy expectatio­ns courts women between if they showed the ages of 25 and 54, up on the flagship but the streaming cable network. Indeed, service “allows us to several networks look at programs where have refrained from there are more male running commercial­s ideas, some younger for cannabis products viewing ideas,” she says, because such purchases are not “This gives us the latitude to be legal nationwide. On a streaming more niche.” service, however, subscriber­s Food Network has exported can choose what they want some other programs to the

Koshy streaming hub. “Restaurant Impossible,” a series in which host Robert Irvine helps restaurate­urs turn around flailing food operations, has moved to Discovery Plus and has more adventure elements to it, says White.

All five hourlong episodes of “Chopped 420” start streaming April 20 on Discovery Plus. All five hourlong episodes of “Chopped: Next Gen” start streaming May 25 on Discovery Plus.

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