11 essential cooking skills I learned purely by watching countless hours of Chopped

Who needs culinary school when you have a television?

Many Food Network purists complain that the channel used to be about actual cooking — and now it's just silly "food-themed reality" shows like Chopped.

But the thing about Chopped — the very first episode of which aired 10 years ago this month — is that if you pay attention, this show's mystery ingredients and overly-critical judges can actually teach you a ton about cooking. Sure, the show is incredibly dramatic — its over-the-top, swelling music rivals the Gladiator soundtrack and the chefs' tragic backstories are often straight out of a Lifetime movie. But it's absolutely educational, too.

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