Lee Anne Wong

Lee Anne Wong reveals what Top Chef's culinary production team thought of chefs' dishes.

on Dec 3, 2008

Let's talk about the Today Show challenge. I was really on the fence about this one as part of my argument is that this a challenge based on a skill set some of these contestants may or may not have, not just their food. Trust me, I have done many, many a demo in my career, live and for camera, and it's not an easy thing. I took a solid year of media training to learn how to cook and talk and smile at the camera all at the same time. It's not natural for everyone and takes practice so I was worried that we were setting our chefs up for failure. The producers then asked me if I would compile a demo/quick tips checklist for them so they could really understand what hurdles our contestants would be facing with the nature of this particular challenge. Not all of this information made it to the contestants but the producers were able to pick and choose points from this document to emphasize with our chefs when we read the rules to them. To give you some insight into what I think about when setting up a demo, this is what I handed to the producers:

Questions to consider when devising a cooking demo

•Consider your audience: Can this recipe be made at home by the viewer?

•Will your recipe hold at room temperature for 2 hours?

•How much time do you have? 2 minutes in TV time goes fast.

•How complicated is your recipe? Does it have 4 steps or 20? What equipment is available to you and how much will you need?