Amanda Freitag Talks Cocktails, TikTok, And Catching Turkeys In Aprons - Exclusive Interview

Ever wonder if it's possible to catch a Thanksgiving turkey falling out of your oven in your apron? Well, Amanda Freitag knows the answer to that question. While most of us are familiar with her image as a well-known TV, Instagram, and TikTok personality, if you ever have the pleasure of meeting Freitag in the real world, you'll quickly realize that her sunny demeanor on-screen translates to her off-screen, everyday life.

Amanda Freitag is probably best known for her appearances as a judge on "Chopped" and as a competitor on "Iron Chef" and "Tournament of Champions." However, Freitag also owns her own line of ready-made cocktails and creates a series of TikTok videos using the hashtag #EasyAF, which, as the name implies, aim to make cooking at home easy. What's more, she's even a published cookbook author. Despite being in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Amanda Freitag chose to sit down with Mashed to talk #EasyAF, "Chopped," cooking mishaps, and cocktails.

Amanda Freitag is making cooking at home #EasyAF

What made you choose Instagram and TikTok as your platform for this series that you're currently working on, #EasyAF?

Actually, you need to meet Kenzie Teller, my marketing manager, who helped me create #EasyAF. I didn't even know my initials were cool. I wanted to continue to put out these food videos. I don't get to cook that much on Food Network anymore; I'm doing a lot of judging. I wanted to teach people how to cook because I find that when we make complicated recipes, people will say, "Wait, how do you chop an onion?" So I want to get people comfortable in the kitchen, and I can reach so many people on those platforms.

What's been your favorite recipe to make so far on #EasyAF?

My patty melt is one of my favorite recipes because it's ooey gooey. Anybody can make it, everybody loves it, and it's an awesome hangover cure.

What recipes can we expect from the series in the future? Do you have anything cooking up in your mind right now?

We have a lot. We always have a running list of things we want to do. I always try to do something plant-based because people are dying for that, but I want to keep it easy AF, so anything from plant-based to the ooey-gooey stuff. We have summer coming up, so I love to make a lot of grilled items, and I like to make cocktails.

Freitag once caught a turkey in her apron while cooking for friends

Have you ever had a crazy kitchen disaster when filming for #EasyAF or at any other time? Do you want to share that story?

I've had kitchen disasters during #EasyAF and not. Some recipes that we started and filmed didn't work out, so we had to throw them away. We made the decision; we're like, "Should we keep it? Should we put it out there?" I'm like, "No way. I can't do this." It was [because] we were rushing through [and] being really hasty. 

My other favorite kitchen disaster [was at] my teeny, tiny little apartment in Chelsea. I was cooking for 10 people for Thanksgiving. It was very Julie Child, and the turkey slid out of the oven into my lap, and I caught it before it hit the floor. Everybody was like, "You okay in there?" [in] this tiny little galley kitchen. I was like, "I got it. Happy Thanksgiving." That was intense. That's what an apron is for — to catch a turkey. Always wear an apron in the kitchen.

What are your go-to recipes for when friends come over?

I usually cook very simply when friends come over. I love doing snacky shared things, whether it be mezze, where we have breads and labneh and hummus and veggies. Then I'll usually do one main entree of something really easy to add to that. Or I'll do Italian style. I love a big Sunday sauce, lots of pasta, Caesar salad, break bread, red wine. That's the best.

Her favorite Chopped contestant also competed against her on Tournament of Champions

Who's been your favorite contestant on "Chopped" up to this point?

After 14 years, that's a hard question to answer. My favorite contestant ... I've always been a fan of Madison Cowan. He's a "Chopped" champion over and over and over again. He actually competed against me on "Tournament of Champions." We've stayed friends. He's an incredible competitor. Look up Madison's episodes; you'll love them.

Take us inside what's going through your mind when you step on stage during "Iron Chef." What's going on?

I've competed so much. I've done "Iron Chef," "Next Iron Chef," [and] most recently, "Tournament of Champions." Every time I do it, I feel like it's the first time. My heart starts racing, my mouth gets dry, my hands start to shake, and I think, "Why am I doing this? Why?" Then as soon as I start to cook, I feel great. I have ideas. And as soon as it's done, I want to do it again. I'm kind of an adrenaline junkie when it comes to that kind of pressure.

Freitag's future includes travel and adding new cocktails to her line

What projects do you have coming up in the future, and what should we look out for?

It's so exciting — a lot of travel, actually. I do stuff with Culinary Diplomacy Project. It's a nonprofit organization that believes that people sit around the table and connect through food. I'm going to Mexico, I'm going to Armenia, and I'm not even sure what other trips, but I'm going to hit a couple of places this year because we're traveling again and it's wonderful. My favorite thing is, even if you don't speak the same language, you're talking through food. 

Then we're filming some "Beat Bobby Flay" [episodes] that I'm going to appear on. "Chopped" is coming back, as far as television stuff goes. More #EasyAFs, more cocktails, another product in the works. I have a beautiful apron coming out. We're going to keep it fun, keep everybody excited to be in the kitchen.

Do you have any cocktails that you might want to add to your cocktail line in the future?

I have many cocktails — negroni, Manhattan, margarita, and I am going to add a mocktail. We have to have a mocktail. But what I really want to do is be able to get it out there in smaller bottles, more portable stuff that can go on airplanes. I want to work on getting it downsized a little and making them petite. I also love espresso martinis. I love cosmopolitans. I want to perfect it and get all the ones that I like out there.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Learn more about the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. And for more Amanda Freitag, tune in to "Chopped," shop her cocktail line on her website, and follow her on Instagram and TikTok, where you can check out her #EasyAF videos for delicious, beginner-friendly meals to try at home.