- Broken Base:
- For many, the very format of the show. Look on various message boards and you'll find people who have difficulty accepting the Jerkass / psychopath-based gameplay mechanics and how it gets in the way of true culinary talent and ingenuity à la Chopped in favor of simply screwing over your competitors. Add to the fact that the theme dishes seem to be too simple on purpose. For others, they praised it for giving a cooking competition a unique twist, and shows on the innovation and determination of the contestants themselves when facing unique obstacles in their life.
- People don't like the fact that the "winners" of that show have frequently won a small pot of cash. Whereas other shows guarantee $10,000; $25,000; $50,000 or even $100,000; over 75% of the winners in this game win less than $7,500. Only TWO chefs were able to win the full $25,000 without counting the Judge's episode in which Antonia Lofaso won the game with $22,000 under regular rules (and the second of which was only because there was only one round with actual auctions in the entire episode). The most money won in a single episode was when the winning bid was $24,600.note
- Heartwarming Moments:
- One episode featured an Italian contestant for whom English wasn't his first language. When asked to make a dish of biscuits and gravy, he misheard Alton and made brisket and gravy. Instead of being eliminated for his mistake, his dish was judged as though brisket and gravy was what had been asked for, and he moved on to the next round because one of his competitors produced a dish that was both disliked by the judge and didn't resemble biscuits and gravy whatsoever. After this incident, Alton took great care to explain the dishes required of the contestants in more detail to make sure such a mistake couldn't happen again.
- A Season 10 episode features a brash, older chef named Chef Kapo, who's a culinary teacher. When he wins, he reveals his motivation for going on the show:"One of my pupils just got diagnosed with breast cancer. I'm gonna give all of the money (around $10,000) to her."
- Memetic Mutation:
- "This is chicken nuggets." Explanation
- I WON CHOPPED!Explanation
- Alton's Beard of Evil features in a meme comparing his clean-shaven Good Eats look ("You either die a hero...") with the Cutthroat Kitchen look ("...or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.")
- Nausea Fuel: During a Salisbury Steak round, Chef Aleric is sabotaged with a gelatin mold filled with meat and berries. Aleric blanches the gelatin, but does he try to pick out the meat out of the bunches of berries? No. He mixes in the berries with his meat and tries to make his steak with it. The result is a berry "steak" in an ugly pink color and tasting too much like berries with umami.
- Negated Moment of Awesome: In the episode "Kiss My Grits", first round is nachos. Chopped champion Chef Willen gets distracted and fails to get both tortilla chips and cheese in the pantry. To get around that, she tries making "Paleo diet" nachos, using skirt steak, avocados, and using oven-roasted crispy chicken skin in place of the tortilla chips. Chef Willen gets distracted again during plating, and forgets to take her skins out of the oven, and Jet Tila eliminates her. Because one other chef prepared a dish that had raw shrimp, it's likely Chef Willen would've survived with the chicken-skin nachos.
- Retroactive Recognition: Like Chopped, some chefs from Hell's Kitchen have competed on the show, such as Robyn (who also won her chopped episode), Cody, Clemenza, Tommy, Marc, Gabriel, and most notably Kori, who competed in the first season and won before going onto win the nineteenth season.
- The Scrappy:
- Naturally, since the show rewards psychopath-like behavior, many, many contestants will become that episode's Scrappy.
- Penny Davidi, full stop. Given her reputation on Food Network, this shouldn't come as a surprise.
- Matthew Grunwald. He was as arrogant and hypocritical as he was in Food Network Star, and constantly saying "Hashtag" in front of other words. He is also responsible for not one, but two Idiot Ball moments, including paying over $31,000 for an empty salt shaker.
- Shocking Elimination:
- In the first heat of "Superstar Sabotage" the other chefs had seen Susan Feniger as someone tough to beat. She is eliminated in the first round because of a mid-round sabotage.
- In the final heat of "Superstar Sabotage", Alex Guarnaschelli got eliminated in the first round due to a well-timed sabotage. She was expected to at least go to the final round.
- Those sabotages where the contestants are forced to share hand tools SCREAMS of squick, especially with the risk of cross-contamination. Contrast this sabotage with "replace cooking utensils for self", where you can at least control which utensil touched what and reduce the risk of cross-contaminating your own food. This is one of the reasons this type of sabotage has become rare in newer seasons.
- Giada had this expression all over her face when she discovered in the After-Show that one of the chefs was forced to serve her chicken-in-a-can, which was squick itself in the challenge. Her reaction earned a good snark from Alton. The canned chicken being squick is one of the reasons it's one of the most dreaded sabotages on Cutthroat Kitchen.
- In Season 12, a chef injured herself during the competition for the first time in the show's history, slicing the tip of her finger off. The injury and blood were blurred out.
YMMV / Cutthroat Kitchen