Armchair Critic

Lately I have become addicted to cooking shows on the Food Network. I have learned a lot about food that I didn’t know, and I have become the armchair critic about how I would make a dish out of the contents of a basket or the crazy items from Guy’s Grocery Games. And, yes, I have made some of the recipes from various shows. They were pretty darned good too.
I have learned other things too:

For instance, never try to bake a cake of any kind in 30 minutes. The majority will not bake in time.
Never, EVER try to bake a bread pudding. You WILL NOT get it done 99.9% of the time and you will lose the game.
Do not make the mistake of using oils like Sesame oil or Truffle oil as a garnish or last minute sauce, it will over power the entire dish and you will lose the game.
Don’t get in front of the camera and brag that you KNOW your dish will win the game because nine times out of ten, the braggart ends up being the one chopped from the game. It happens all the time.
Do NOT be the cocky smart ass chef with a holier than thou attitude. The judges don’t like that at all, neither do the other contestants, get ready to lose the game in one or two rounds.
Learn to be humble and listen to the judges comments on your cooking without getting defensive and copping an attitude. It annoys everyone, including the audience. It makes me shout at the television to tell off the contestant even if it makes me look silly.
Work hard, or at least make it look that way, right up to the last second. Don’t get done early and stand there with nothing to do, you can always make an improvement. Just don’t use fancy oil to do it.
Learn plating techniques. Choosing the right plate is vital to serving a perfect dish.
Learn to make your plate or bowl pretty. The contents need to look like a magazine photo. The kind that makes a person drool and want to make your recipe.

Learn time management under pressure. Focus, focus, focus.
And most of all, don’t be a poor loser. After all it wasn’t the judges who cooked and plated the food, it was you. No pouting or bad mouthing the judges, it makes you look childish and petty.
Many people will watch you. They will know where you work and many will vote not to go there because you want to be a star and you are simply nothing more than a moon.
There are more things I learned about people who are in a cooking contest, some good, some make me want to reach through the television and smack the contestant cross eyed. But, at the end of the day, I learn more about cooking in every episode and that benefits my family because I have new and better ways to cook things that they like. Works for me, the armchair critic.

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