Judges' 5 Top Tips for Succeeding on Cooks vs. Cons

Learn what the judges think competitors ought to do to perform well in battle.

Photo By: Anders Krusberg ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Rich Freeda ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Todd Plitt

Photo By: Jason DeCrow ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Jeff Riedel ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Richard Blais' Tips

1. Practice timing; actually cook within the 30-minute frame.

2. Practice lying — or acting like a chef.

3. Watch plenty of me on Food Network.

4. See above.

5. Cook dishes you are familiar with!

Alex Guarnaschelli's Tips

1. Cook or con, have fun and embrace the challenge given. You have a better chance of conning us and winning if you do.

2. Cutting an onion, garlic, the basics — make sure you master those if you are a con. That can be a real giveaway.

3. Keep your dishes simple so you can focus on making them great.

4. Use the right utensil for the right task.

5. Talking about your mom or grandmother and her cooking can make you look like a con because so many people do it. Tell your food stories (everyone has one!) from a different perspective that is still true to you.

Marc Murphy's Tips

1. Cook a lot so you get used to it.

2. Practice your knife skills because there's a time limit, and being able to get through chopping is key.

3. Watch the show and study where things are in the kitchen so you can get familiar with it.

4. Don't forget to taste your food as you're cooking, and don’t forget to season with authority!

5. Make something that you're comfortable with; don't try to impress with something you've never done.

Josh Capon

1. Stay cool.

2. Taste everything.

3. Don't try and overcomplicate things.

4. Watch your time.

5. Cook food that is tasty.

Katie Lee's Tips

1. Set a timer and practice cooking under that pressure.

2. Remember to salt. It's one of those little things that trips up so many people.

3. Don't make anything that's too complicated.

4. If one component of your dish is not perfect, leave it off the plate.

5. Stay true to your cooking style.

Monti Carlo's Tips

1. The clock can destroy even the most-experienced chefs, so learn how to budget your time.

2. Don't be scared of a pressure cooker; it can develop deep flavor and tenderize meats in minutes.

3. When you're in the kitchen waiting for cameras to roll, map out your movements. Figure out where all the equipment and ingredients you want to use are.

4. Presentation is important. Once you decide what you're making, see the finished plate in your mind and give yourself the time you need to execute it.

5. Don't try to do too much. A simple dish done well is better than a complex dish executed poorly every day of the week.

Want More Cooks vs. Cons?

Check out Food Network's Cooks vs. Cons headquarters for more insider coverage of the show, to test your culinary chops and to get host Geoffrey Zakarian's best pro-tested recipes.

More: Cooks vs. Cons

More from:

Cooks vs. Cons

Next Up

Top Tips for Baking Better Cupcakes

Cupcakes are easy to bake, but little tips and tricks will help you make the best batches. Here are a dozen rules of thumb — plus a bonus one — for how to bake like a pro.

5 Sandwich-Making Tips

Find 1000s of Food Network's best recipes from top chefs, shows and experts. And watch videos demonstrating recipe prep and cooking techniques.

100 Greatest Cooking Tips (of all time!)

Food Network Magazine asked top chefs across the country for their best advice.

Five Tips for Mastering Mac and Cheese

These tips will help you whip up an ultra-decadent macaroni and cheese that will satisfy every comfort-food craving.

14 Tips for Slow-Cooker Meals

A few simple rules are the key to creating a rich, satisfying slow-cooked meal. Follow these tips for easy, flavorful recipes all year long.