The All-Star Academy Mentors Talk Competitive Strategy — and Some Serious Smack
When it comes to competition shows, everyone's got an angle, a competitive strategy in hopes of winning. On All-Star Academy, premiering Sunday, Mar. 1 at 9|8c, each of the mentors has his or her own way of approaching the competition. As culinary instructors, they have different methods for teaching the mentees as they lead them through the many difficult cooking challenges, which test the home cooks' resolve in order to find the single best one in the nation.
FN Dish recently caught up with Alex Guarnaschelli, Bobby Flay, Curtis Stone and Michael Symon to find out their competition strategies, how they think they're going to win and what sets them apart from their fellow mentors — and they didn't hold back with their answers.
Alex Guarnaschelli: My policy is honesty. … My strategy is to focus on myself, put my blinders on and ignore the other mentors. Instead of me competing with them, it's me competing with myself to give these competitors the advice they need to go all the way to the end. I'm banking on a motherly touch helping me. I only have one restaurant, and I have more time on my hands to think about these people, consider them and focus on them, instead of focusing on the rivalry.
Bobby Flay: I plan to win by letting my cooks really … do what they want to do, what's important to them ... so that they are confident when they start cooking, but then also sort of guide them in small things that may alter how the dish actually tastes or looks or feels complete. I'm not as overbearing as those guys [Alex, Michael or Curtis]. They're really in their cooks' faces … . And I kind of, like, sit back and let it all sort of unfold, and then I make decisions based on what's happening.
Curtis Stone: I want my other mentors to underestimate me. ... I want to find two cooks that are super organized, clean and take direction well. I don't actually care about their cooking ability. ... I just want someone that can listen to me, because I can show them what to do. I'm literally on the stoves every night in my restaurant. ... I'm not saying that [the] other mentors are not in their kitchens, but they're not in their kitchens like I am.
Michael Symon: I'm going with keeping it simple but elegant and making sure that my team learns good techniques, because I feel that good techniques are the backbone to delicious food. I feel I have the best ability to keep my team calm. From all of the years in the restaurant business and working with all different cooks … I’ve always felt that I could get the best out of my cooks with honey. ... I'm not saying that I won’t lose my temper, but I’m going to try and keep them in good spirits, confident and calm.