•Smile. Look directly into the eyes of your host and the camera. Eyes up, remember.
•Breathe. Speak slowly, loudly, and clearly. Because you only have 2 minutes every word out of your mouth will count. It's always a good idea to write a list for yourself of important steps you will cover and touch upon during your demo.
•Talk technique, but keep it personal. No one knows your food like you do. Why is this your signature dish? Why do you love a certain ingredient? What caused you to treat this particular ingredient in this way?
•Go with the flow. Again, 2 minutes is a short time but at the end of the day you have a beauty plate already prepared for tasting so if you can't get to all of the steps in your recipe, improvise. Don't get flustered, just push through it.
•Smile and relax. The camera picks up everything, including nerves. This is you, just showing the host how to cook an easy, quick meal.
So, you see, there's quite a bit of thought that has to go into devising a live demo with such a short time limit. I've actually done some food styling for Padma on the Today Show and I do all the set up and styling for the Wong Way. I always have to have each step in the recipe ready, so one has to be incredibly detail oriented, including equipment and set decoration. The easiest way to win a Top Chef challenge is to actually listen to what the challenge is. Bravo to Ariane. Yes, watermelon, tomato, feta, and basil. Most chefs will roll their eyes and say that they've been doing that for years and they're probably right. Hell, it's a go-to salad in my summertime repertoire when the watermelon and tomatoes are at their peak ripeness. The juicy sweetness of those two ingredients combined with the salty bite of feta cheese and the fragrant addition of sweet basil and balsamic syrup is delicious, fresh, and screams simplicity, which is exactly what the hosts were looking for. The point of the challenge was to create and demo an easy and creative recipe for the home viewer, and I am positive some households have never tried such a wonderful combination of accessible, simple ingredients. Key words, so good for Ariane for meeting all the criteria for this challenge.