So today I’m gonna give you the skinny on how to win on Cutthroat Kitchen. Whether you’re hoping to get your own chance to be on the show or you’re just interested in the behind-the-scenes stuff, I’m opening the curtain on my own experience. Hopefully you’ll find this helpful, or at least interesting.
#1. The Skype Interview: This is the least stressful part of the process. The producers just want to see your personality. Be yourself, but be your most animated self. I’m not saying go drink a pot of espresso and do your best Richard Simmons! (Although if that’s who you are, go for it!). Remember that at the end of the day, this is ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION! If you’re skype-ing with the show, they already know you can cook. Now they want to see if you can walk and chew gum at the same time.
#2. OK, you’re on the show. Yay! Now, if you’re lucky enough to be on a theme show, like I was, there’s some practicing you can do. I knew I was going to be on a special grilling episode so I started to think about my favorite SIMPLE grilling recipes. SIMPLE being the key word. Cutthroat Kitchen is all about the sabotages. You and your fellow chef-testants are going to be buying the most bizarre sabotages for each other so, if you wanna win, go simple! I thought about all the different things they might ask me to grill and then I thought about what I could complete in 15 minutes. Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “But Jodi, I watch the show and I know Alton gives you 30 minutes to cook”. And you’re right about that. But consider this. What if you’re tethered to one or even two other chef-testants during that 30 minutes? What if you’re given a pair of boxing gloves to wear? What if you have to cook while standing on your head? If you’re making something that takes a full 30 minutes, odds are you aren’t going to be happy with what you end up with. And yes, I admit that being on a theme episode does make practicing a bit easier. But you can still go through your mental rolodex of dishes you are really great at. You know you can.
#3. Think about desserts! If you watch the show you’ll know that if you get to the final round, there’s a very good chance Alton will ask you to make some kind of dessert. It happens more than 50% of the time. Don’t believe me? Watch the show!
#4. Always, always, always grab eggs. It’s amazing the mistakes you can fix with eggs.
#5. Fill your basket! The sabotages come in a varying array of complexity. As soon as Alton tells you what to cook, grab the right ingredients BUT grab a LOT of alternatives! If he says to make pasta, grab any and all liquids you can get your hands on! You might get a sabotage that takes away your water. Be creative about it too. Grab wine. Grab milk. Grab a big jar of pickles! You can cook pasta in pickle juice if you have to! My first round was “Burger”. Immediately I thought, “What if I lose my bread”? You’d better believe I grabbed portobello mushrooms just in case that happened!
#6. Be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Let your competition think that YOU think you’re out of your element. Your internal mantra should be, “Please underestimate me”! Let them think you’re not a threat so they buy sabotages and give them to someone else. How many times have you watched the show and heard someone say, “Well I’m afraid of YOU” to someone and pile the sabotages on that person?
#7. Assess the competition. I was blissfully unaware that I was going into the lion’s den against 3 of the heaviest hitters on the competition BBQ circuit. But I kept my mouth shut and listened to the 3 of them (who all knew each other very well) in the green room. I quickly and quietly realized that I was competing against a Memphis In May & Kingsford Charcoal BBQ Championship winner (Brad Orrison of The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint) and one of the winningest men in BBQ who had over 80 wins including grand championships on 3 continents at the same time (Harry Soo). When the blood returned to my face, I saw Brad & the 3rd BBQ king, Terry Matthews of BBQ Daddy, practically genuflecting at Harry’s feet. I knew right then that if I wanted to survive, Harry had to go and he had to go FAST!
#8. Don’t be cheap! You wanna go home first? Save your money. You wanna survive? Buy those sabotages!!!!! My boyfriend David sent me off to the studio with these words: “Don’t get sunk with torpedoes still in the tubes”. Remember, the only one who goes home with any money is the last man standing. If you save your money and lose, you get zip-a-dee-doo-dah! Spend that money!!!!! Win with $1. But WIN!
#9. Remember that at then end of the day, you’re on a TV show! I get it. You don’t wanna be a bitch. Have a little conversation in the green room with the other chef-testants before you start shooting and agree that anything you say or do to each other is all in good fun and in the name of making good TV. It’s not personal. Still worried about hurting someone else’s feelings? Plan to all go back to the hotel at the end of the shoot and have drinks/dinner together.
#10. The most important tip I can give you is this. WATCH THE SHOW!!!!!!!!! As soon as you get off that phone call telling you you’re going to be on the show, run to your computer and watch every episode of every season! You wouldn’t take a test in school without studying. So STUDY!!!!!! Odds are, you’ll either get one of the sabotages you’ve seen OR you’ll get a variation on one of them.
That’s all the news that’s fit to print. Now excuse me now while I go re-watch my episode and see if I took my own advice.