When the episode directly following "Chopped: Alton's Maniacal Baskets" aired, fans noticed something new. Well, primarily they noticed the golden retriever James who served as a special guest. Apart from that, many were wowed by the film set!
As opposed to the "Chopped" filming location we have grown accustomed to over the course of hundreds and hundreds of hours, the new set is a wide open factory space. Even those who were split on Reddit were broadly complimentary: "Aesthetically, I really enjoy it, and it's great that they're keeping it socially distanced for the long haul so they can adhere to what will probably be protocols for a long freaking time. Having windows so it doesn't feel like such a dungeon is a nice touch, too," one wrote. Their main gripe, as they admit, is that it's different and they don't like change. Others theorized that this may have been a means to address the need for social distancing.
Another thread is also in broad agreement that the new design is nice and well overdue. "So," one asked, "is the new set permanent? Or is it a limited time run? I agree; it is awesome! Love the spaciousness. The old set was just so cramped." Besides these appreciative comments, not too much attention has been paid to the space. Either people gushed over James the dog, or as a cursory glance at #chopped on Twitter shows, most are more invested in how the judges chopped Fanerra Dupree.
From what one can tell, it does not appear that the new set is a permanent fixture. On Twitter, Ted Allen writes how, besides James the dog, the other star is the set for this episode and "several more coming." Moreover, it is a factory used "for this run of shows." The wording here creates a strong impression that the new filming location is at least meant to be temporary.
Similarly, on a behind-the-scenes filming on Facebook, Ted Allen and Chef Marc Murphy walk through the set with very shaky camera work. The title of the video is "Summertime Chopped Set Tour," which, again, is a strange way of titling something if it's a permanent home for "Chopped."
Part of the possible temporary aspect may be due to how they had to rent the space.
One person on Reddit claimed that this was Art Factory Studios, an old factory building in New Jersey that is now used as a rentable venue. Comparing the Facebook footage, stills shared by guest judge Chef Jordan Andino on Twitter, and the website for Art Factory Studios, it seems likely that it is the same space. However, it is also fully possible that The Food Network notices the popularity the new set is enjoying and decides to update the show, which after so many seasons, could use some kind of makeover. As of writing, though, it does seem the new studio will only last for a few episodes.