GRACE

Chopped is not a TV show that causes me to change my schedule or to stop reading a great book to watch, but if I remember at 9:00 on Tuesday night, I’ll turn it on.

I like the concept of the show – four chefs are given a basket of four ingredients and from that they have 30 minutes to create an appetizer. Then four judges decide which three of the four chefs made a dish worthy of moving on to the main dish round. At the end of that, another chef is asked to leave and the two finalists go one-on-one to create the best dessert.

The fascinating aspect is the four surprise ingredients – things like “Make a dessert from liver, goat cheese, honey-flavored cough drops and a Hershey bar” or some such combination that would take me about three years to figure out how to put in any kind of appealingly edible form – but they do it in a short amount of time.

The part I don’t like about the show is the arrogance of the contestants. “I am the best. I work at a four-star restaurant. She doesn’t have any experience. She shouldn’t win.” Sometimes they say mean and cruel things to each other and laugh when the other person is criticized. Often people cry when they’re eliminated because they feel like winning chopped is good publicity for their restaurant or good credibility for their cooking school. Which it is.

But, honestly, I don’t like angry-spiced drama. Probably has something to do with living in the pastor’s house so many years – I’ve seen more than enough real drama in real life. I don’t have to watch it on TV.

I also cringe when I see Christians on reality shows. For those of you who are reading this who aren’t Christians, it’s because those people don’t speak for most of us and we don’t like being put in the same box. For those of you who are Christians, seeing someone “praise Jesus” because they found a gold nugget in a bed of mud (like Amazing Race, etc.) and then turn around and badmouth everyone around them – that’s sad and embarrassing for someone who knows the Lord. Not that any of us are perfect. That’s the point. We aren’t perfect, that’s why we need Christ in the first place. But now, living as a Christian, we need to reflect His love in our lives.

Anyhow – back to Chopped. So last night they introduce the four chefs – all back for the second time for a “redemption” show. As they introduce the chefs, they show you where they work. One of the chefs (L.) worked at a Christian camp and they showed a picture of the chapel with a cross on it.  I wondered what was coming.

As L. worked on one of his dishes, he made the statement that he used to be a jerk and think only of himself, but since he’s let God be part of his life, he understands grace and that it’s not all about him – but about others. He worked intensely, but during the critiques, he smiled and didn’t reflect an arrogant attitude, caring about the feelings of the other contestants.

Another contestant last night was Y.  She was from another country (Maybe Russia?  Not sure).  Last time she was on there, she talked about her grandmother and that she wanted the $10,000 prize money to visit her. Otherwise she wouldn’t be able to. Now she was back again and really, really needed the money because her grandmother was dying.  In contrast to L., Y. was very intense.

So intense in going for the prize, that during the 2nd segment she hurried so quickly across the floor, that she dropped a pan of boiling water/sauce. They had to have her checked out by the medics and she had second degree burns on both her legs – but she kept going because she needed that money. The final round was L. and Y. competing  against each other. L. continually encouraged Y., knowing she was in great pain (limping) and how hard it was for her. But they both did well and the judges were impressed.

After they presented their desserts to the judges – they went to the waiting room and L. said to Y.:

“You’ll win this tonight. You deserve it.”

“No,” she said, “You were very good, too. I am glad I got to work against you. We are both winners.”

When the judges announced L. as first place, Y. was obviously disappointed, but gracious. Yet, she wouldn’t get the $10,000.

But then L. stopped everything. “Wait a minute,” he said. “I came on this show for fun. I didn’t expect to win. My wife and I did not earmark this money for anything in particular. I would like to pay for your trip to see your grandmother.”

Everyone was absolutely still. Most of the judges were wiping tears off their faces and Y. literally broke down in sobs.

“This,” she said, “is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.”

L. shook hands with the judges and left with a smile on his face.

I say. “Thank you, L. for being a light in the world.”  Your “jerk” status isn’t even in sight.

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