Earlier this week, FN Dish caught up with Alex Guarnaschelli for a Facebook chat about Season 3 of Chopped All-Stars. Alex answered questions about what it’s like to compete and what it’s like to be a judge. She also chatted about her cooking and shared a favorite recipe from her recently released debut cookbook, Old-School Comfort Food.
Read some highlights from Alex’s Facebook chat below:
Julie Cirilo: Alex, what is an ingredient that you cannot live without?
Alex Guarnaschelli: Lemons! I squeeze their juice on everything.
Marilyn Miller Clay: How long does a single episode of Chopped take to film? This last All-Stars episode was quite controversial, from the comments I have read online. Have the judges ever not been able to make a decision?
AG: About 12 hours. We, as judges, do disagree at times.
Anastasia Golovina Dessaint: Have you ever had an upset stomach after any of the shows due to the food that a contestant cooked?
AG: Not yet …
Bridget Casas: Are the judges told in advance what the ingredients are so they can be prepared?
AG: We can choose to know or not to know.
Rachel Perry: Who are you excited to face off with?
AG: I’m excited to face off with everyone!
Tina Rice Kelley: Do you feel a little more at ease being an Iron Chef competing in Chopped All-Stars?
AG: No, competition always feels like the first time.
Christy Moreno: Have you been practicing? I’m curious if you study up on ingredients and test yourself for time?
AG: 200 percent yes. Always.
Eve Moon: What is the one biggest pet peeve you have about a contestant chef? Is it something about their personality or their personal story they keep going on about — or maybe a way they cook — that makes it the worst pet peeve for any contestant to exhibit?
AG: When someone is clearly an excellent cook but just doesn’t master the basket.
Stephanie Matthews-Smith: Who is your biggest competition on Chopped?
Kelly Hubbard: When your dishes are being critiqued, how do you remain open-minded to the judges’ comments?
AG: As a judge myself, I always seek to learn from being judged by my peers.
Willow Crawford: Which judge on Chopped do you think is the hardest to please?
AG: It’s a tie between Scott, Geoffrey and Chris.
Nate Towne: What was your point of view for your new cookbook? If you could recommend only ONE of the recipes, which one should we try?
AG: The pasta with lamb sausage on page 119. My POV was life experience mixed with what I love to eat.
Michele Chastain: If there was one item you ABSOLUTELY would NOT want in your basket on Chopped, what would it be?
AG: Fermented fish heads
Ginger Flubacher: When you think about opening a basket, what ingredient or food item scares you the most to see, and what ingredient would you most want to find there?
AG: Durian fruit scares me; cherries make me happy.
Sharon Donahue: Do you sometimes get annoyed by the attitude and cockiness of some of the contestants, and how do you handle it?
AG: No. I think everyone has a different process when you compete.
Christina Marie: Is there one person that you are worried about competing against? One who you’re excited to be competing against?
AG: No, not really. I think the stress of The Next Iron Chef cured me of that!
Kevin Bateshansky: Alex, is there any particular Chopped pantry item that you wish wasn’t there due to it being used too often or unnecessarily? Truffle oil, for example.
Kim Mainord: I’m so happy you won The Next Iron Chef. Belated congratulations. Do you feel that your time competing for the title has better prepared you for the Chopped kitchen? Has it changed how you judge dishes?
AG: Thanks. No, nothing prepares you for competing except doing it and making mistakes and learning.
Don’t forget to watch Chopped All-Stars on Sundays at 9pm/8c and keep coming back to FN Dish for exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes content.