Jury Duty: Q&A With Bob Tuschman

by in Food Network Star, June 12, 2012

In the July/August issue of Food Network Magazine, television exec and Food Network Star judge Bob Tuschman answers viewers' most-asked questions about life as a cooking show judge.

Do you have an idea of who will win the show from the beginning?

I usually have a good sense of who the front-runners will be. The first time the judges meet the finalists face-to-face is on day one of filming. While the crew adjusts lighting and cameras, we have about 20 minutes to silently stare at the finalists. During this time, I gain a good sense of their confidence and charisma. But that doesn't mean their food or personality will hold up through 11 weeks of challenges. Front-runners often stumble.

Are you a cook?

I'm a type A executive, but I'm a type B-minus cook. I would never be on Iron Chef America, but I wouldn't be on Worst Cooks in America, either. I cook to relax, so I like things slow, easy and uncomplicated in my kitchen.

How do you eat all that food when you're judging?

Happily! And then I still eat three square meals on top of that. I don't think I've missed a sit-down meal since I was a first-grader in Cleveland. It's a comforting ritual I can't seem to give up, even when I'm judging and eating huge amounts of food. Luckily, I swim every day and my metabolism is fast. But not as fast as it was in first grade. Those were the days.

You're the head of programming, so did you cast yourself on the show?

No, I was asked to audition — along with a bunch of other Food Network execs — for producers from CBS Eye Productions, who make the show for us. Susie [Fogelson] and I were cast. I love being on the show, but I'm glad I kept my day job.

What happens when you disagree with Bobby Flay about the food?

It was difficult the first few seasons because I respect Bobby's food expertise so much. But my food opinions are just that — my opinions. Bobby recently told me he enjoys it when we disagree because he values my opinions as a non-chef but a serious food lover. Or maybe he was just being kind.

Do you judge finalists more on their food or performing skills?

Finalists must be equally talented at both. While we can't teach anyone to cook in 11 weeks, if the food expertise and raw charisma are there, we can teach them camera skills.

What's the worst dish you've ever eaten on the show?

That honor goes to Tom Pizzica from season 6 and his infamous "bacon steak." I lied when I said on the show that it was the worst thing I'd ever eaten. I couldn't actually eat it, let alone cut it. Sometimes even very talented chefs have very bad days.

Do you have a favorite finalist from all of the seasons?

All of my babies are pretty.

Catch Bob judging Food Network Star Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.

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Comments (33)

  1. vert2013 says:

    Oh the bacon steak...

    • beachinfrizzy says:

      I thought he was going to say it was Tom's mushy chinese vegetables drowned in soy sauce. Or Chris' squashed red stuff slice of pie (that must have been the worst looking).

  2. MoHub says:

    This certainly explains why Bob didn't get to say much on Cupcake Champions.

  3. jessica says:

    babys? thats kind of weird....

    i thought the worst was chocolate asparigus! for vic you know?

    • Mom says:

      It goes back to saying moms use when asked who their favorite child is,,, they reply " all of my babies are pretty, talented, etc..."

  4. RobT says:

    Why oh why does the table in the new Pitch Room look like a huge glowing vagina? Surely someone must have noticed during the preproduction? Who is the set designer? It's no wonder the show is regularly savaged by bloggers. I like the new format, but it's hard to take the show seriously when the scene shifts to an overhead shot of the table and ominous music plays!

    • MoHub says:

      But it allows The Minx to refer to it as the "glowing vagina table of death," and that alone is worth having to look at it.

  5. Food Fan says:

    Just wanted to say I enjoyed the Live Show challenge. It seemed Relevant. Nice!
    If the next -Food Court show- has the public commenting on the deliciousness of candidates dishes, that will be very good to see, too. I love it when the public, tries Bobby's Food in his Throw-downs.

  6. Sandi says:

    I have to say I LOVE the new format!! Thanks for switching it up.

  7. Duffy says:

    I think the new format is lousy. You never know how long the show is going to be and they change the rules from week to week how they are going to vote someone out. Of course they know who is going to win, both judges are incredibly and blatently biased. I believe it was Alton Brown who said it....the fix is on.

  8. Jerilee says:

    I want to know how Bob can say he likes slow and easy when he cooks, but thinks Ippy is too laid back. Kinda like talking out both sides of his mouth at the same time.

    • Duffy says:

      I agree. That is how Ippy and most of the people I know from the islands are, laid back. Them saying they want him to have alot more energy is telling him that they don't want him to be his self.

    • Tammy says:

      Bob is cooking in his own kitchen. He is not performing on TV. That said, I like Ippy and I see nothing wrong with his laidback personality. I don't think you have to be so high energy to be a chef on TV.

  9. Mom says:

    Will you have a "fan vote save" if a fan front runner gets eliminated by the judges?

  10. Bro says:

    Bob you are out of touch... except with yourself.