It’s always a nerve-wracking and exciting moment for both the chefs and judges as the mystery baskets basket ingredients are revealed. The judges on Chopped Canada have seen (and tasted!) some crazy ingredients that turned into either delicious dishes or total disasters. We asked the judges, if given the chance, what ingredients they would pick for the mystery baskets.


The moment of truth (and terror).

Anne Yarymowich created her own mystery baskets when she and he husband hosted a Chopped Canada dinner party. They put together a dessert basket that included Pillsbury crescent rolls, a jar of Nutella, fresh apricots, and soft goat cheese. Her guests ended up putting together a dessert pizza with flaky crescent roll crust, layered with crumbled goat cheesefresh rosemary, grilled apricots dusted with brown sugar, a warm Nutella drizzle and chopped almonds. We wouldn’t mind judging that dish one bit!

Antonio Park’s dream mystery basket isn’t quite as sweet as Anne’s. The judge says he would put in weird and unexpected ingredients that the contestants haven’t touched before to really put their skills to the test. His Park-themed mystery basket would include sea cucumber, kelp and monkey brain.


Don’t let the charming smile fool you. This man would include monkey brains in the most extreme mystery basket ever.

In his own cooking, Antonio cooks with a lot of seafood and is careful to ensure that he uses sustainable ingredients, which he’d like to see reflected in the mystery baskets as well. He wants to ensure that younger generations are able to eat the same dishes (and same bizarre mystery basket ingredients) that we are eating today.

For her mystery basket, Lynn Crawford would include a protein that tests the clock, like lamb shank, which would be a tough challenge to prepare in the 30-minute time crunch. Lynn would also test the chefs with interesting flavour combinations like sweet and sour or breakfast flavours in a savoury entrée course.

Speaking of breakfast, that would be the theme of one of Eden Grinshpan‘s mystery baskets. This judge would love to create a breakfast-for-dinner entrée round basket that would include AM food favourites like maple syrup (100% pure Canadian we hope, Eden!), bacon and waffles.


A mystery basket with bacon? We’d like to be a judge on that panel.

Eden would create a second mystery basket full of her favourite ingredients. This mystery basket would be full of flavour, containing cilantro, bananas and octopus.

P.E.I.-native and Chopped Canada judge Michael Smith would look to his home province for inspiration for a mystery basket (and no, it wouldn’t contain potatoes!). He would include P.E.I. seafood such as mussels, lobsters, clams or oysters as a protein and balance it out with harder-to-find ingredients like cattails, samphire greens or dandelion greens. Finally, Michael would showcase some of Prince Edward Island’s fungi by including some local mushrooms such as chantrelle or hen-of-the-wood.


Did you spot some haggis, John?

 John Higgins would have a mystery basket as Scottish as the bloke himself! His mystery baskets would include potentially challenging ingredients like cooked tongue, Scottish chocolate-caramel candy, sweetbreads (lamb or calf pancreas) and his personal favourite, haggis, a savoury Scottish pudding made with sheep’s stomach.

Roger Mooking dreamed up a mystery basket inspired by Trinidad –  the Caribbean island where he was born. Chefs would be challenged with Caribbean roti, crab, tamarind balls and chili peppers out of his custom-created mystery basket. Get Roger’s recipe for tamarind balls here.

The global flavours don’t stop there. Susur Lee‘s very eclectic mix of ingredients (we wouldn’t expect anything less from him!) would include Jamaican sorrel, a red plant used for festive holiday drinks, long black peppercorn,  monkfish liver and fish head (not even the fish, he said, just the head!).


This eclectic assortment of ingredients is a challenge Massimo would love to see. L-R:,,

Massimo Capra put together a basket of mystery ingredients that is no cakewalk! The chef would include a challenging protein like lamb, veal, or sweetbreads (John Higgins would like that!). The basket would also contain tropical fruit, seaweed and nougat.

Have your own mystery basket ideas? Tweet your mystery basket ingredients at @FoodNetworkCA and @ChoppedCanada.

Why not throw your own Chopped Canada dinner party with customized baskets of mystery ingredients? Click here to find out how.