5 Questions With Gabriella Gershenson of 24 Hour Restaurant Battle

by in Food Network Chef, Shows, April 28th, 2011

gabriella gershenson
Last Thursday, the second season of 24 Hour Restaurant Battle premiered, promising an all-new set of contestants aspiring to open their own restaurants –- all in just one day.

We asked three of the judges to talk about the new season, the drama we can expect and advice they can share. Last week, Alison Brod gave us her advice from a public relations standpoint. Today, we’re talking with Gabriella Gershenson, a senior editor at Saveur magazine.

Tune in tonight for a new episode of 24 Hour Restaurant Battle at 10pm/9c.

FN Dish: For the new season, what are some changes we can expect?
Well, you’ll be seeing more of the original four—Alison, Scott, Geoffrey and myself—but there are also some great additions to the judges table. For instance, David Sax, a deli expert and contributing editor at Saveur magazine, where I work, joins us when two Jewish-style restaurants face off.

FN Dish: What is the most common mistake you come across?
Some chefs serve dishes that they have never attempted before coming on the show. Huh? I don’t get that. Second most common: chefs who don’t taste their dishes before serving them.

FN Dish: If you had to give the contestants just one piece of advice, what would it be?
Cook what you know and what is closest to your heart. There are enough curve balls in the competition as it is—no need to complicate things with overly ambitious dishes.

FN Dish: Food writers and critics are going to be a big part of these contestants’ lives if the restaurants succeed. As a food writer, what advice can you give to them regarding handling a good/bad critique and how they can use the press to their advantage?
In the age of the Internet, being press-savvy is a very good skill for a restaurant owner to have. I’d say familiarize yourself with the way the local press–blogs, magazines, newspapers, even influential Tweeters–covers food. Get on Twitter, get on Facebook, share some great details of what you’re up to in the kitchen, what dishes you’re serving that night. Of equal importance: Respond gracefully if someone gives you a bad review (if possible, don’t respond at all, unless it’s by improving your food or service).

FN Dish: Do you think you could do it in 24 hours?
Create a magazine? Maybe. A restaurant? I don’t think so.

Follow Gabriella Gershenson on Twitter: @gabiwrites

Gabriella Gershenson is a senior editor at Saveur magazine. Until the summer of 2010, she edited the dining section and the Feed blog at Time Out New York magazine. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe and several other publications. She’s been a regular guest on WOR-AM’s Food Talk and NYC TV’s Eat Out New York, and has consulted on chef Jamie Oliver’s travelogue, Jamie’s American Dream. Don’t miss Gabriella’s blog on food and culture.

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Comments (9)

  1. josh says:

    Ok…love the show. I'm a food service professional and have been in this industry for 16+ years. I'm a classically trained professional chef, baker and restaurant manager. I am however more than a little irked by the attitude and audacity displayed by one of your recent judges Geoffrey Zakarian. He portrays the perfectly pompous know-it-all arrogance which most people hate about the "stereotypical" chef. I'm offended by the way he treated the chef from "Jak's Kitchen". The Chef made what was a very attractive looking omelet and served it only to be belittled and told that he had made a Crepe. Geoffrey Zakarian may call himself a chef but can't even distinguish the difference in ingredients between items as simple as omelets and crepes.

    • lynnnj says:

      Just saw that show last night and was quite upset by Zakarian's aggressive – and incorrect – putdown. Especially since the thin filled omelet is my favorite. Sometimes the judges seem to dig for something mean to say to deflate the contestants. Jake was proud of his omelet – so Geoffrey had to pop his balloon.

  2. Josh says:

    For this person to berate someone on national TV, and be so absolutely incorrect in his self-righteous culinarian accusations is an embarassment to your network and to my profession. People with less knowledge might have the wool pulled over their eyes into believing this blow-hard knows what he speaks of. I do not fall into that category. He clearly wanted to make himself look "good" on television and has the personality of Napoleon. I would love to see some sort of retraction or apology for his thoughtless comments. Thankfully his comments didn't deter "Jak's Kitchen" from their well-deserved victory in this competition.

    • Paul B. says:

      Now I wish I had watched the show. We got home from the theater late, and I was tired. Just so you know, Geoffrey Zakarian is a very famous and respedcted NYC chef, restaurant owner, and is one of the more level-headed Food Network judges out there.

  3. Bob Loblaw says:

    They need to replace Gabriella with someone else.
    Every time the camera goes to her, I can't hear or see anything.
    She's so beautiful, its distracting.

  4. AntiGabi says:

    Every episode I see it's Gabriella shooting down positive moments the others never take mention pf almost in an effort to make herself seem different. She just simply irks me. I am a trained chef and currently work at a BBQ resteruant in the South, but she always seems to have a chip on her shoulder… What's the matter? Typical critic who can't cook herself is what it seems like! Those who can't do teach/critique… Perfect example for her. She never looks happy and constantly constipated. It's a bummer to see the two guys from Dallas get a bad review from her but win, good job Scott, but does A Food Network Producer have her as a god daughter? That's the only reason I see her on this show. Her negativity really drags the show down. I understand constructive critticism but good God! And in NO WAY is she attractive! Come down South and see our women!!!

  5. Carolina says:

    I saw an episode where the front of the house was decorated so well, they all commented on it. One of the things that impressed me was a display that had like a branch and some hanging glass spheres. Does anyone know which episode that was? and where I can watch it again. I have been up all night and cant find a site where I can watch all the episodes already passed.

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