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‘Chopped’ Takes on Cannabis and Generation Z in New Editions for Discovery Plus

Host Ron Funches with chef Solomon
Courtesy Food Network /Michael Moriatis

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 spin-off 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,” the executive says.

In “Chopped 420,” comedian Ron Funches challenges four chefs to create an appetizer, entrée 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.

Food Network’s White says some the program extensions would defy expectations if they showed up on the flagship cable network. Indeed, several networks have refrained from running commercials for cannabis products because such purchases are not legal nationwide. On a streaming service, however, subscribers can choose what they want to see and avoid content they feel isn’t for them.

The linear network courts women between the ages of 25 and 54, but the streaming service “allows us to look at programs where there are more male ideas, some younger viewing ideas,” she says, “This gives us the latitude to be more niche.”

Food Network has exported some other programs to the 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 hour-long episodes of “Chopped 420” start streaming Tuesday, April 20 on Discovery Plus. All five hour-long episdes of “Chopped: Next Gen” start streaming Tuesday, May 25 on Discovery Plus