The Makings of Live TV: Jeff's Lessons Learned and His "Number One Rule"

Hear from Jeff ahead of his appearance on Food Network Star on Sunday and get his insider take on how to succeed at live television.
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Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

As all of the previously eliminated Food Network Star finalists would likely attest, camera challenges are difficult — so much so that multiple takes may be needed in order to execute just one presentation. But on Sunday's brand-new episode of Food Network Star, the remaining rivals will learn that their past challenges were mere practice for the main event in television: live productions, where there's no such thing as a redo. Unpredictable in time and format, live TV requires personalities to think on their feet, especially when there are multiple hosts of a show on at the same time.

On Sunday the final four hopefuls will come together for their first ensemble-based live challenge, something the five castmates of The Kitchen know well. Two of those co-hosts, Jeff Mauro and Katie Lee, will be on hand Sunday as the cast attempts their first live demos, and we caught up with Jeff recently to find out what he's learned about live TV after six seasons of The Kitchen. "The No. 1 rule," he told us, is "the process of giving and taking, waiting for your moment and giving a moment." He says that finalists ought to do well if they have one key component: confidence. "Make sure whatever you’re cooking is practiced," he recommends, "because then it just becomes, you know, muscle memory." Read on below to hear more from Jeff as he shares "been there, done that" advice with the hopefuls.

What's it like balancing the efforts of an ensemble while claiming a bit of spotlight for yourself?

Jeff Mauro: It like it. I like being able to feed off other people and give and take, [like] the world of … improv and sketch comedy. That's, like, the No. 1 rule: the process of giving and taking, waiting for your moment and giving a moment. So that’s what I love about it. But then again, it’s also nice just to be in the spotlight too.

How did you and the other co-hosts of The Kitchen manage working on live television when the series first started?

JM: I think it came with time, getting to know each other, becoming friends and getting to know how we each individually perform in that situation. I think after one season we hit our stride. We were like," OK, I get what she’s going to do now, or what he’s going to do," you know? It’s practice.

How should the final four not trip over each other when they're all on camera at once?

JM: That’s practice, but it’s having confidence in your cooking. That's what Food Network Star [does]: [winnows] out the ones who really can’t do that. But if you can, you’ll shine in this competition. I think the greatest thing is how to cook and know what you’re doing. Make sure whatever you’re cooking is practiced, because then it just becomes, you know, muscle memory, and you can focus on the stories and the recipe at the same time.

What's your top advice for the finalists when it comes to presenting?

JM: I say, when you’re presenting, smile as much as possible, and tell great, real, authentic, personal stories. I think it shows you as human, and people want to connect to a human. You know? I know Bobby and Giada respond to that well, as do Bob and Susie and the audience — the world responds to that. It’s not just a tactic to try to make it another week; I think it’s television. It’s being warm on camera. If you can come through authentic and warm, and smile, and tell stories about your life, whether they’re embarrassing or goofy, just a quick little story ... I think that’s why Food Network is successful, 'cause it’s inside your home.

Tune in to a new episode of Food Network Star on Sunday at 9|8c.

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