“Two Worlds Collided Today.” — Jet Tila on Episode 3

by in Interviews, June 17, 2014

Jet Tila on Food Network Star, Season 10Sabotage. 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 Brown, Bobby Flay and Jet TilaAlton'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.

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Comments (4)

  1. Waffles says:

    From above: "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."
    How true. If only more people writing in these Blogs were that way.

    Too many zero in on one or two that they don't want to win and are hell-bent to bash them. They will negatively say someone is this way or that way. Really? Because of what? They almost never say. If they do, nine times out of ten it's so subjective that I immediately ask - And what makes *that* so awful? They don't say. Someone sucks and that's that. Arbitrary.

    People have a right to their opinion. But they are terribly vague about it! How, is someone good or bad? Too many accusations with a pathetic lack of anything to support it or convince anyone with half a brain. It's often just magnifying something nearly inconsequential. Example: does the size of Lenny's belt buckle really matter? Does it have anything at all to do with his ability to cook or clearly explain himself?

    You can say that people don't have to explain themselves. Whatever. But then likewise, we don't have to believe them and the rest of us can write it off as unsupported arbitrary bashing. Also, these same people who can't wait for this one or that one to be eliminated, almost never say say who they *do* want to win, either. Or why. They could all learn a good lesson from Jet Tila next time they write something.

    • shannon says:

      Waffles, I agree that I like for people to share their reasons for feeling a certain way about the competitors. The reason "I" like that information is to open my eyes to a perspective I may not have previously considered. It may sway my feelings it may open me up to objectivity, then again it may not. Maybe it will just be enjoyable and entertaining reading for me.

      I share my opinions and generally my reasons for feeling a particular way. Some people may agree some may not. Some people may post their agreement with my point of view others may engage in a friendly and lively debate with me. You know what ? It's all OK. These boards are here for people to share their thoughts and feelings about the show and the competitors. What is not Ok is for people to share their thoughts and feelings about the other posters. Personal attacks are never Ok.

      There have been times that a certain competitor is just not my cup of tea or they just rubbed me the wrong way and there is not a specific "reason" that I could share. Not one that would make sense verbally or in writing anyway.Sometimes it's just a feeling. I have shared those feelings and would like to be respected just as those who share their feeling should expect to be respected by me.

      Some folks say that not liking a competitor based on say.. a certain manner of speaking, style of dress, facial expressions, body art, facial piercings or yes even an overly large belt buckle are not valid reasons not to want someone to win. I am here to voice my opinion that they are valid reasons. We the posters here are the consumer, we are the future viewers of this winners show on the network. We need to like this person, we need to want to spend 30 minutes with this person, to be taught, entertained and talked to by them. We need to enjoy watching them and that is visual as well as auditory. We need to be engaged. And yes they need to be able to cook so we can trust what they are showing us will truly taste great.

      We are not the actual judges of the show like Jet. Our comments do not need to be designed to improve the performance of the competitors. We will not encourage them to be better. The show is already taped. The best we can hope for is that the network reads the comments to get a better understanding of what we,the viewers are looking for in the future.

      There are posters on here that ask people why? Why do you feel that particular way. The people that are genuinely interested in the answers to the questions know who they are. I respect those questioners. Then there are some people that simply ask people why and criticize them for not giving more detailed information. Some of those people are not truly interested in the answer nor do they respect the person's position or preferences. Those people I do not respect. It's an open board to share what you are comfortable with in the way you are comfortable.

      Not everyone that posts on these boards likes to write long comments. Some like to give short bursts of thoughts or ideas or feelings.That is also fine. They are entitled to share. I respect them all, as long as they respect the other posters. Thank goodness I am one of those people that only likes to share very short comments.(smile)

  2. guest says:

    Jet Tila did a great job judging the Cutthroat Kitchen competition and I like the fact that he wants to give each contestant constructive criticism that can help them improve. Food Network, please let Mr. Tila do some cooking as well as judging -- he is an excellent teacher as well as an impressive chef.

  3. guest says:

    I'd like to see buzzwords avoided in judging. Words like:

    Annoying - Got someone you don't like? Just call them annoying. People do. Maybe they hope that if they say it 35 times that it may stick.

    "Schtick" - yes, that too. Got another finalists you don't like? Accuse them of having "schtick". never mind if they really do, just say they do and hope that sticks like annoying.

    Engaging - say your favorite is engaging. Pick who you don't like and say they aren't. People are doing far too much of all this. It's just online tactics to make some look bad and others look to be good. No one has a monopoly on engaging or annoying or schtick. It's just name-calling when they don't give evidence for it.