Hosted by Ted Allen, Chopped challenges four promising chefs to turn a selection of everyday ingredients into an extraordinary three-course meal. In each episode, four chefs compete. The show is divided into three rounds; in each round, the chefs are given a basket containing between three and five unrelated ingredients, and the dish each competitor prepares must contain all of these ingredients. The competitors are also given access to a pantry and refrigerator, which is stocked with a wide variety of other ingredients. Each round is times, and the chefs must cook their dishes and plate them before the time elapses.
After each round, a rotating round of culinary judges critique the dishes based on presentation, taste and creativity. The judges then decide which chef is "chopped," and that chef is eliminated from the competition. By the Dessert round, only two chefs remain. When deciding the winner, the judges consider not only the dessert course, but the entire meal presented by each chef as a whole. The winner of the competition receives prize money, usually in the amount of $10,000.