Your NFS Questions: Answered!

A couple of days ago, I opined on some of the struggles the Food Network Star finalists face… and asked if you guys had any questions about the show.

That was kind of a dumb question, huh?

Thank you for all your thoughtful questions!

I’ll do my best to answer you without giving away all the mystery behind the show. It’s kind of like a magic trick — once you know how it’s done, you kind of wish you hadn’t asked.

Here we go!

Amber: In cases like Penny’s or any other drama for that matter…do they edit it to seem more dramatic than it is?

I think you and I both know the answer to that question.

That said, the team shoots hours upon hours of footage that they have to boil down to a 42 minute show. Anytime you boil anything down, you concentrate the flavour. That means that your most significant characteristics, those you exhibit most often, are the ones that are going to make the cut… if you’re a snarky person 60% of the time, guess what? You’re going to be the snarky one on the show. If you display self-esteem issues more than any other issue (hmmm, I wonder who I’m talking about!), those take center stage.

DI: Do you know already as to who has won this year’s show?


Sue: They obviously have a large pantry of items so when you go shopping, how do you know what they already have in the pantry versus what you need to purchase?

The pantry items are amazing. I remember being able find nearly every spice and ingredient I’d ever need in there, and in the fridge. But those ingredients are solely for the camera challenges. For the elimination challenge, you have to buy everything yourself! I found that tricky because often, Whole Foods (where we’d shop most of the time) didn’t have as wide a range of ingredients as the pantry.

Kel: How in the world do chefs recall recipes (such as for cupcakes last week)? That is just not something I carry around in my head. Were you allowed to bring any copies of your recipes with you to the competition?

Good question! I have NO IDEA how these guys remembered cupcake recipes. I have a horrid memory under peaceful circumstances; I can’t imagine how it would have fared with Robert Irvine breathing down my neck. So I say kudos to those contestants who did memorize a cake recipe before they left.

In my season, Brianna made a sponge cake during one challenge, and Aria made fresh focaccia during another… my jaw was on the floor. People who bake often probably have an easier time remembering those types of things. That said, baking is all about ratios, as laid out by the great Michael Ruhlman (which inspired the fantastic Ratio Rally). If you can remember what ratio works for what baked good, then you’re golden. All of that to say, NO, you are not allowed to bring recipes with you. It’s all up here baby (imagine me tapping my temple)!

Sandra: The challenges are once a week, right? What do you guys do during the week between challenges?

Nope, we often did multiple challenges a week. There were times when we would work for 10 days straight! I’ve never been to bootcamp, but this was as close as I ever hope to come. Oh Lord, it was hard! Don’t do this if you think it’s going to be a glamorous walk in the park. Or if you value sleep. HA! Every now and then, we’d get a pure day off, but more often, we’d have a quasi-day off where we’d spend about 3 hours in the interview room, then go home and sleep. SO. TIRING.

Mary: I always wonder about cell phones in this hyper-tech smart phone world we live in. Do you get to use them? I esp wonder because what if you’re given an ingredient to cook with but you don’t know what it is– are you not allowed to have a phone during challenges because you could google it?

Nope. No cell phones, no computers, no radio, no newspapers, no books (my Bible was ok)… I still remember coming back after shooting, and my husband talking about the iPad. I stared at him blankly and he said, Oh my goodness. You have no idea what that is, right? It had come out while we were quarantined away. It really feels like you’re in a different world.

If you don’t know what a particular ingredient is, you’ve got to figure it out. I remember not knowing anything about Tallegio cheese, which I was given during one challenge. I’d never heard of it before. All I could do was taste it, figure out what would go with it and hope for the best!

OOF! Alright I can’t do anymore. My fingers are knackered!

Do you enjoy this kind of post? If so, let me know in the comment section… and I’ll keep going with the rest of your questions.

Yours in carpal tunnel,


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55 thoughts on “Your NFS Questions: Answered!

  1. Aarti, Love you, Love your show. In fact, it’s the only thing that will get me out of bed on Saturday morning at 9AM (OMG!!!), which is when it airs on the West Coast. However, is there anything that can be done about the “background” music on your show. It’s so loud that I can hardly hear you. And … sort of creepy, too. It’s not going to keep me from watching your show, but would enhance the viewing, tremendously, if it were gone or a different genre! Thanks so much!

  2. Love your show! btw, I do have a wild guess regarding who won this season (purely based on something u posted in the past). let me wait and see if the person wins. :)

  3. Aarti,

    I like posts like this and I love your show! My wife and I are trying quite a few of your recipies and really them (and how they are different from most of the other stuff on FoodTV).

    Thanks for being out there and sharing with us!

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