5 Questions With Geoffrey Zakarian of 24 Hour Restaurant Battle

By: Sarah De Heer

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geoffrey zakarian

The second season of 24 Hour Restaurant Battle is in full swing, delivering an all-new set of contestants aspiring to open their own restaurant –- 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. Recently,  Gabriella Gershenson gave us her advice from an editor's standpoint. Today, we're talking with Geoffrey Zakarian, chef of The Lambs Club at The Chatwal Hotel and The National in New York City.

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

FN Dish: It's a new season. What are some changes we can expect?

GZ: Because the show has become so popular, the level of competitors has risen, as well. More people want to compete and therefore the end products are much better.

FN Dish: Judging a team is never easy. What are some of the takeaway lessons you learned from last season?

GZ: It is important to see how they work together: the respect they show for each other, the competitors, the customers. I like to see how one emerges as the visionary or the leader. It doesn't work when there is no symbiosis -- you can see it clearly in the end result of the restaurant they create.

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

GZ: Simplify. Drop two ideas that you had and focus on the two most discernible to the public.

FN Dish: You have opened many restaurants. Do you think you could do it in 24 hours? What would your strategy be?

GZ: I could definitely do it. Not having to deal with permits, recruiting, liquor license, etc -- what a walk in the park. It would be great to just focus on the hospitality and food. As a professional restaurateur, there are a lot of elements that you have to deal with that take away time from the fun, creative aspects. This show strips away all of the hard responsibilities like paying rent and allows you to get at the core of why we are in this business in the first place.

FN Dish: As a chef and restaurateur, what are the three most critical things a chef must institute in his/her kitchen?

GZ: 1. Respect for others: Working as a team is crucial to the success of the restaurant.

2. Cleanliness: The kitchen and front-of-the-house should be sparkling. It should also be a nice environment to cook in. Make some effort in the back of the house, too.

3. Sense of urgency: The customer needs whatever you are working on five minutes ago. Hurry up!

Follow Geoffrey Zakarian on Twitter: @gzchef

Geoffrey Zakarian has presided over some of the country’s top kitchens over the past 25 years. He opened two New York City restaurants, Town and Country, both of which received three stars from The New York Times . In 2010, Geoffrey opened The Lambs Club at The Chatwal Hotel and The National in New York City.

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24 Hour Restaurant Battle Judges

Get to know the men and women who will determine the $10,000 winners each week.

Geoffrey Zakarian Bio

Geoffrey Zakarian, a master of modern American cuisine, has presided over some of the country’s top kitchens in the past 25 years. He opened two New York City r His two newest concepts, Point Royal and Counter Point, are located inside The Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, FL. He also helms The Garden Bar and Georgie, both located in Los Angeles within Montage Beverly Hills. Outside of his restaurant ventures, Geoffrey's cookbook, Town/Country: 150 Recipes for Life Around the Table, was widely acclaimed when released, and his second cookbook, My Perfect Pantry: 150 Easy Recipes from 50 Essential Ingredients, was published by Clarkson Potter in Fall 2014. Geoffrey is also the host of Sirius XM’s Food Talk radio show, which premiered at the 2013 South Beach Wine and Food Festival. He has partnered with Norwegian Cruise Line in a three-restaurant deal aboard its newest, most-luxurious ship, Norwegian Breakaway, set sail in May 2013. Geoffrey also brought these concepts aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Getaway in 2014. In August 2013, he was named culinary director at The Plaza, New York City’s most-iconic hotel. He oversees The Palm Court, The Oak Room & The Oak Bar, The Rose Club, The Champagne Bar and In-Room Dining. Geoffrey is an Iron Chef, having won the title in The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs in 2011. He is a regular judge on Chopped and has also appeared on The Best Thing I Ever Ate and 24-Hour Restaurant Battle on Food Network. He also is a co-host on The Kitchen. For more information on Geoffrey Zakarian or his restaurants and television appearances, please visit www.geoffreyzakarian.com. Follow Chef Geoffrey Zakarian on Twitter & Instagram.

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