A Day in the Life of a Guy’s Grocery Games Judge: Part 1

Photo by: Jeremiah Alley ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Jeremiah Alley, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

As a regular judge on Guy’s Grocery Games, the question I’m asked most frequently is, “Is it fun?” The short answer is YES. Being a part of GGG is truly a blast. So to give you an idea of why I love my job so much, I thought I would give you a little behind-the-scenes peek into the life of a GGG judge. Join me on a typical day.

6:40 a.m.: I wake up, five minutes ahead of my 6:45 a.m. “just-in-case” alarm. I drink the big bottle of water on my nightstand, splash water on my face, do a quick tooth-brushing, do 10 pushups to wake up, and throw a sweatshirt over my pajamas, slip some Toms onto my feet and head to the hotel restaurant for coffee. (Yes, I go to hotel lobbies and restaurants in my pajamas, sleep creases still in my cheek, and I hope I’m never too famous to do that.) Back in my room, I sip coffee, do my morning devotional, shower and dry my hair. One of the perks of this job is that I almost never have to factor in any makeup time before leaving. If I’m clean, that’s good enough.

7:45 a.m.: I arrive in the makeup trailer after dropping my purse and computer in my own trailer, which turns out to be more ceremonial practice than practical, because I spend all my free time, it seems, in the makeup trailer. One of the reasons I love ensemble work (which just means multiple cast members) is the connecting that happens in the makeup room. I sip my second cup of coffee of the day and nibble on oatmeal with banana slices and chopped almonds while the makeup team, consisting of twin sisters Lisa and Leah, and my fellow judges and I talk for two hours. Sometimes it’s casual (“Omigosh, did you watch The Voice last night?”), but often it turns into deeper conversations about our lives — our plans, our families, our disappointments, our dreams. We get bellyaches from laughing so hard, but I can safely say that almost every one of us has shed tears in that makeup trailer, and the whole world stops to hug and support. Life is lived in the makeup trailer, and for that I’m grateful.

9:30 a.m.: I step next door to the wardrobe trailer, which is always steamy and warm from the clothes constantly being steamed. I put on my outfit, earrings and jewelry, and usually put back on my grubby, comfy Toms again (which I’ll swap out before the final scene when the judges walk over to congratulate the winner with the cart of prize-winning groceries). Once I’m dressed, I step back into the makeup trailer, which has usually filled up with a producer or two and a member of the sound team. This is a good sign, because it means we are about to start filming.

And then, the beautifully orchestrated multitasking begins: Lisa and Leah wordlessly juggle the three judges in their chairs, doing final touchups — lipstick, powder, final brushing of hair — while the sound guys finagle their way around our outfits to hide our mic packs and wires, and the producers give us final show notes, such as telling us which games will be played and where the chefs are from, while we judges review the chef profile sheets so we can put a face to each name. The jumble of activity lasts only about 10 minutes before a production assistant pops a head in to interrupt the party and “invite the judges to set.” In TV, we’re never “told” to go to set; we are always “invited,” which I’ll confess actually does make me feel happy inside. I like invitations.

10 a.m.: I walk to set, usually stopping by the Nespresso machine to grab a cup to keep me warm on the usually cold set. We take our seats, saying good morning to the huge crew; you would not believe the number of cameras that are on set! The chefs are in their spots offstage waiting for their cue, usually nervous (and rightfully so — cooking on TV is so much harder than it seems!). Tommy, the floor manager, tells me that today’s dress really is the best one yet (every day), and I hug him for it. Tommy calls for quiet on the set, Guy Fieri reviews his opening and we GO.

Stay tuned for more, because in my next post I’ll give you the inside scoop on the filming and what it’s like to judge.

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