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Sabotage. Evilicious. Cutthroat. All of these words describe Food Network's popular show Cutthroat Kitchen, where host Alton Brown auctions off one crazy antic after another every Sunday night. In the most-recent episode of Food Network Star, however, Alton's world of mini kitchens and missing ingredients was dished out to the remaining finalists. Bobby was on hand to taste the final plates, and so was Cutthroat Kitchen judge Jet Tila. In pure Cutthroat style, the judges had no prior knowledge of the sabotages that led the competitors' final dishes.
Star Talk caught up with Jet on the set of Star in between heats to break down the difference of the competitions and talk about Alton's evil side. Read on for the interview.
No one knows how to judge a Cutthroat Kitchen-style challenge like you. How did the two competitions differ?
Jet Tile: The worlds have collided on this episode. They differ in that we're judging them specifically on food on Cutthroat Kitchen, and here, I've got to see to their delivery and personality, which is a really refreshing change for me. It's a lot of fun, but it's very different.
So you mentioned that added element of how they have to deliver something. Does that make the Cutthroat competition harder?
JT: Yes. Not only did these finalists have to worry about making great food in this crazy environment, they also now have to present it, own it and show their personality. That can't be easy. And I'm not going to be easy on them — that's my job.
On Cutthroat Kitchen, fans can see your face when you have to taste the dishes and it's very telling. How would you compare the food you've had on Star with some you've had on Cutthroat?
JT: I guess I don't have a great poker face. Is that what you’re trying to tell me? Alright, so I've got to work on that. The food here has been great. If I were to say something, and I would be committing career suicide, it is that I am impressed by the game within the game. I'm impressed by the finalists — the level of the food, because they already play this mental game where they have to be great on camera and now they have to deliver in a sabotage environment, that's pretty insane.
The competitors on Cutthroat go on the show and they have to anticipate the sabotages. These guys walked in here today and were like, "Uhhh ... " This was more cutthroat than Cutthroat.
Alton's antics: the sabotages. Where do you think this evil side comes from?
JT: You have to love Cutthroat Kitchen because it shows the evilicious side of Alton Brown, don't you think? You can see him light up and his eyes get all bright. He loves being evil, and, frankly, I enjoy watching him be evilicious.
You've been a judge on a couple of shows now — Guy's Grocery Games, Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen and now Food Network Star. On a level of difficulty, where does this show fall?
JT: Phenomenal question. The one element of this show that does not exist in any other show is you have to judge their personalities and give them constructive criticism about how to be a great personality, and that exists on no other show except Star.
You helped judge these potential Stars with Bobby and you just might be knocking down their dreams. How does that feel?
JT: To judge Food Network shows, this is how I rationalize it: If I can be constructive in anything that I can tell them and make them better, then I'm doing my job. If I'm just being mean, then I'm not a good judge, so there's a line. I will never be mean for no reason. Be constructive to the point where they can do something with that will always be the way I approach these shows.