Cindy on Cutthroat Kitchen, Food Network

I was recently on Cutthroat Kitchen (Nov 2014). If you are not familiar with the show Cutthroat Kitchen is a reality competitive cooking competition on the Food Network. There are four chefs that compete to win.  When you first arrive to the kitchen Alton Brown provides each of us with $25K to use to purchase sabotages and what you have left (if any) goes to the winner. Alton Brown announces sabotages during each round and you can buy them then give them to any one or all competitors.  

First let me talk about the casting process. I received a call from a casting associate asking me if I was interested in being on the show. She apparently found my profile on Chefs Roll.  I immediately said; “no way”. I watch that show and the sabotages are crazy!  Then she asked again and I thought why not!  I am a competitive person and it will be fun!

 

I submitted my application then did a skype interview. It was a lot of fun meeting some of the casting associates and talking about the show.  I was accepted for a late 2014 and the show is taped in L.A.

All of the sabotages have been tested to create a presentable dish to the judges.  You can view all of them from the Food Network site.

Before I left for LA I read Simon Majumdar’s post on cutthroat kitchen and I tried to apply his suggestions in advance but it is really hard when you are standing there in person freaking out looking at the sabotages.  

In my competition, there were three trained professional chefs; Chef Dean, Chef David and Chef Ires. I was the only home chef competing. There really is a strategy to eliminate your viewed biggest competitor and I feel Chef Ires should have thought through  his strategy when he won the second sabotage.

Our first challenge was to create a breakfast waffle. I love waffles and make them often so I felt very confident moving forward.  In the kitchen I grabbed the basic ingredients of flour, eggs, milk, then to make it Italian I grabbed ricotta, pancetta, lemon and a few other ingredients. I planned on making an amazing Italian Waffle topped with a poached egg! None of the other chefs thought about a poached egg and I felt it was a leg up not to mention mine was a lovely Italian dish.

The first sabotage was to give your three opponents a metal ice cube tray, mallet and a waffle fry maker to use as their vessle to make a waffle.  Holy crap I said to myself. I need the waffle iron to make my Italian waffle so I bid on the sabotage and won!  Whew…  

I strategically planned who would get each item. I knew Chef Dean had competed and   won a few competitions so I gave him the waffle fry maker.  Chef David was a little cocky so I gave him the mallet and presented Chef Ires with the ice cube tray!  He was a loud talker and I felt he would have a hard time pulling off a waffle with the ice cube tray.

We get to our stations and I am excited that my waffle will be amazing and I get to use the only waffle iron in the kitchen. I have so much passion in the food I prepare and couldn’t wait to have the judge taste my waffle breakfast!

During our preparation Alton announces another sabotage.  He said – you can bid on this and you can switch any competitors.  I thought to myself: I already paid for this waffle iron and I should not have to pay for it again to keep it!  I was not happy about this sabotage and decided not to bid in hope who ever won would switch two of the professional chefs.  To me that would be the smart move in this game!

I never imagined they would go after me the home chef with the waffle iron – I thought they try to get me on another round!

Well Chef Ires really made a wrong move and had Chef David and I switch! I don’t think he thought it through very well and disagree on his strategy (if  he actually had one).   Get Chef David or Chef Dean out of here!  They are your major threats! By doing this he handed Chef David my perfect Italian Waffle and he was able to continue in the game.

Chef David took credit for my amazing Italian waffle and poached egg!  (UGH)

I had the mallet and ended up making these adorable waffle cups topped with a poached egg then sautéed some arugula and crumbled bacon.  I told to story to Chef Antonia Lofaso (which did not air). I have an 8 year old granddaughter and we love to cook together.  I would make these waffle cups with her along with eggs, greens and bacon to make a healthy breakfast for her.  I even had a wedge of orange which the Antonia Lofaso enjoyed!  Maybe it was my story Antonia didn’t like but it was the truth! I love cooking with Brooke and making it fun for all of our meals together.  After all isn’t that why we love to cook and create new recipe!

Let’s look at Chef Ires – he made these disgusting waffle bites and when the Judge picked it up Antonia said that it was burnt on the back side and it was inedible.  I thought to myself – he is going home!  Chef Dean had prepared a good breakfast with chorviso and eggs but topped with with crispy waffle pieces as a topping but he didn't really make a waffle!  Hello Chef Dean where is your waffle?? I thought for sure it would have been one of them going home!

I was extremely surprised when Antonia Lofaso picked me to go home!  Really…   I had a waffle cup on my plate and it looks beautiful.  My poached egg was cook perfectly!

Again Chef Ires made the wrong move from the beginning as he ended up getting sabotaged and leaving round two and Chef David won the competition. I don’t think he was the best chef but he played the game well and for some reason the Judge moved him along in the competition.

So, if you are planning on casting for this show really think about your competitors and have a strategy before bidding on a sabatoge. As a competitor you should really think about how to win the first round.  While you don’t want to use up all of your cash in the beginning you should bid strong in the early rounds because going home means it's all over. Bye bye!  I suggest only bidding up in $100 increments not thousands. But do bid as the money is of no value if you go home!  Remember all of these sabotages have been tested therefore your dish can be made but its up to you (the chef) to be creative and work fast on your feet!  Most importantly pay attention to your competitors and find their weakness as soon as possible!

I was very disappointed that my game ended after the first round. Honestly I felt Judge Antonia didn't give me a fair review compared to the others.  That said, I learned a lot and if there is another competition in my future I will play the game with more strategy!

 I am thankful to all of the support for all of you including the comments on Facebook, twitter, emails and text! 

If you missed the show I was on here is the link

Here are some comments from Facebook!

Dan Messier Those kinds of sabotages stink. It didn't really test the skills of the person who inherited your work since everything was mostly done for him already! Those kinds of sabotages stink. It didn't really test the skills of the person who inherited your work since everything was mostly done for him already!

MaryLou Antonio You should have your own cooking show, I would watch you everyday

Dan Messier Don't mind! And glad to see you didn't have arrogance like many on that show seem to have! Hope to maybe see you on Chopped someday!

MaryLou Antonio Ahh, you did a great job, I was sad you left the first round, you should have won, you were so sabotaged

Whitney Lee Ives You were great, and you got the worst possible sabotage! My daughter, Samantha Ives has encouraged me to try some of your recipes, and you know your stuff...so, thank you!!!

Bruce Ostrander Antonia Lofaso you just had the hots for chef David that's why you picked him. what a joke, you even said chef Deans was better. discrimination discrimination