4. Choosing the mystery basket is a complex art
Deciding which ingredients make the cut is a long and intense process. If Culinary Producer Sara Hormi and Food Network Executive Chef Rob Bleifer need more than 15 seconds to come up with a dish with the given ingredients, they scrap the combo. To ensure ingredients aren't repeated too often, the duo cross-references a huge list of previous baskets. After 450 plus episodes, with 16 ingredients per show, that’s over 7,200 ingredient combinations to check!
5. Each episode has a back-up contestant
While you may only see four contestants on set, they officially can’t start shooting unless they have a fifth standby contestant ready to go. The standby jumps in in case someone doesn’t show up, gets sick, panics, or chops off a finger in the first round, and the audience is none the wiser.
6. There were nine original judges, today there have been over 43!
The original nine judges were Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli, Aarón Sánchez, Amanda Freitag, Marcus Samuelsson, Chris Santos, Marc Murphy, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Maneet Chauhan. All nine continue to rotate through as judges. There is no reported drama between the judges, but with all those chef egos on the same room, some stuff must go down. This is obviously speculation though.