5 Questions With Gabriella Gershenson of 24 Hour Restaurant Battle

By: Sarah De Heer
gabriella gershenson

Last Thursday, the second season of 24 Hour Restaurant Battle premiered, promising an all-new set of contestants aspiring to open their own restaurants –- all in just one day.

We asked three of the judges to talk about the new season, the drama we can expect and advice they can share. Last week, Alison Brod gave us her advice from a public relations standpoint. Today, we're talking with Gabriella Gershenson, a senior editor at Saveur magazine.

Tune in tonight for a new episode of 24 Hour Restaurant Battle at 10pm/9c.

FN Dish: For the new season, what are some changes we can expect?

Well, you'll be seeing more of the original four— Alison, Scott, Geoffrey and myself—but there are also some great additions to the judges table. For instance, David Sax, a deli expert and contributing editor at Saveur magazine, where I work, joins us when two Jewish-style restaurants face off.

FN Dish: What is the most common mistake you come across?

Some chefs serve dishes that they have never attempted before coming on the show. Huh? I don't get that. Second most common: chefs who don't taste their dishes before serving them.

FN Dish: If you had to give the contestants just one piece of advice, what would it be?

Cook what you know and what is closest to your heart. There are enough curve balls in the competition as it is—no need to complicate things with overly ambitious dishes.

FN Dish: Food writers and critics are going to be a big part of these contestants' lives if the restaurants succeed. As a food writer, what advice can you give to them regarding handling a good/bad critique and how they can use the press to their advantage?

In the age of the Internet, being press-savvy is a very good skill for a restaurant owner to have. I'd say familiarize yourself with the way the local press--blogs, magazines, newspapers, even influential Tweeters--covers food. Get on Twitter, get on Facebook, share some great details of what you're up to in the kitchen, what dishes you're serving that night. Of equal importance: Respond gracefully if someone gives you a bad review (if possible, don't respond at all, unless it's by improving your food or service).

FN Dish: Do you think you could do it in 24 hours?

Create a magazine? Maybe. A restaurant? I don't think so.

Follow Gabriella Gershenson on Twitter: @gabiwrites

Gabriella Gershenson is a senior editor at Saveur magazine. Until the summer of 2010, she edited the dining section and the Feed blog at Time Out New York magazine. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times , San Francisco Chronicle , The Boston Globe and several other publications. She’s been a regular guest on WOR-AM's Food Talk and NYC TV's Eat Out New York , and has consulted on chef Jamie Oliver's travelogue, Jamie's American Dream . Don't miss Gabriella's blog on food and culture.