Alex Guarnaschelli is no stranger to Food Network Star. We've seen her dish out her opinions on the judging panel of two Chopped-themed episodes during seasons 8 and 9. But this past Sunday, Alex took off her judge's hat and took to the kitchen. During the Star Challenge, the remaining finalists were tasked with taping a 15-minute demo explaining how to make a simple dish with pantry ingredients in a separate prep kitchen. So where's the twist? Iron Chef Guarnaschelli was in Star Kitchen watching their demos in real time, attempting to make the same dish, as Bobby, Giada and Alton looked on.
Star Talk caught up with the Iron Chef right after the show to talk about being in the kitchen versus being a judge, and what Bobby, Giada and Alton are really like.
This is your third time on Food Network Star, and this time they put you into the mix of cooking, and you even said that you feel like you’re a part of the cooking audition yourself! Alex Guarnaschelli: It’s true. I’ve been through a number of shows and I’ve done a lot of this stuff before, so theoretically this is not my first or even my fifth rodeo, but it feels as nerve-racking and as fresh as the first time. And when you realize that, you catch a glimpse into what the stakes are like for these competitors. I mean, they’re standing in front of a trio of people that have enough producing and camera experience to catapult you all the way to the top. How much can you sort out? How much can you really hear them? How do you separate yourself from the pack? On top of being on camera, they have to cook for Bobby, Giada and Alton. I mean that — that’s some cherry and whipped cream on that sundae right there, right?
No one may know the pressures of reality cooking competitions better than Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. She's a force in Kitchen Stadium and arguably one of the most-straightforward Chopped judges at the table. Beyond competitions, she's a chef who has been wowing patrons for years at her restaurants. Simply said: Alex knows her stuff and can probably describe it better than anyone else.
This past Sunday, Alex joined Alton and Bobby at the judges' table for a special Chopped-themed episode of Star. Star Talk recently caught up with Alex and asked her about her time on the show, including her reaction on Danushka's infamous "bored" comment.
Your face was priceless when Danushka revealed her "boredom" during the challenge. What was your initial reaction to hearing that? Was that a Chopped first for you? AG: Standing on the middle of the subway at rush hour, waking up late for a final exam or frying an egg for the queen of England would be less stressful than that kitchen. I think boredom is a curious reaction. I also think if you know you're bored, and cooking is such a demanding profession, it might not be a good fit.
Someone will get chopped on this Sunday's appropriately themed episode of Star (watch an extended preview here). Like most Star and Chopped endings, it won't be pretty. And it wouldn't be a real Chopped experience without a Chopped judge present — Alex Guarnaschelli, especially. Alex has judging down to a T, not to mention she understands the stress of these competitions, having recently won The Next Iron Chef.
Standing in front of the judges’ table on Chopped is scary for any contestant, especially when he or she is waiting to hear the criticism from the judges. Both Alton and Bobby have admitted they believe Alex is the scariest Chopped judge to face. But what do you think? Vote in Star Talk's poll below.