What You Never Knew About Amanda Freitag

If you've ever watched an episode of Chopped, you're familiar with the often-smiling face that is Amanda Freitag sitting at the judges' table. The New Jersey native and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America has long been a Food Network star, not only with her permanent seat on Chopped but also from appearing on Iron Chef America, Next Iron Chef, and Unique Eats. Off-screen, the celebrity chef has run the kitchens of some of New York's biggest restaurants, including Cesca, Gusto, and The Harrison (via Food Network). 

Because you've heard her say "And for these reasons, you've been chopped" so many times and because you've listened to her banter for hours with the other judges, you may feel like you already know Amanda. But there are some things you probably didn't know about the returning Tournament of Champions contestant. Here are a few lesser-known facts about Amanda Freitag, from what she really wanted to be when she grew up to her favorite snack.

She actually hates cooking for herself

You'd think that a superstar chef like Amanda Freitag would love being in the kitchen no matter what the occasion. But for as much as she enjoys cooking for others — whether at her restaurant or on TV — she does not like cooking for herself. "I hate cooking at home," she said in an interview with Food Republic. "I admire people who do it. I've been in restaurants for 20 years and now I cook at home, and it's really hard."

One thing in particular she refuses to make at home? Paella. "I just wouldn't and couldn't ever make it as well at home as they do [at Tertulia]," she told FN Dish. In the same interview, Amanda admitted that the one thing that has been a game-changer in her home cooking is her Vitamix blender, which she says she uses for everything from smoothies to soups to sauces.

She once lost to Bobby Flay on Iron Chef by a single point

Amanda Freitag may be best known for her spot at the judges' table on Chopped but she's also appeared on other Food Network shows. One of those was Iron Chef America, where she competed against her fellow celebrity cook, Bobby Flay, in season 7. According to Fandom, it was a close call, with Amanda losing by just one point in the "taste" category for her final king crab dish.

However, just because she lost doesn't mean she didn't enjoy it. Amanda told PopSugar that she had "the best time" on the show, and that it changed how she works in the kitchen. "[On Iron Chef,] the adrenaline kicked in, and then I was doing well and I just wanted more," she explained. "I cannot work any other way now. I have to work under pressure now. It ruined me for life!"

She has a few guilty pleasures

Think Amanda Freitag only eats healthy, homemade meals full of fresh fruits and veggies? Think again. While she admits that she rarely eats junk food, she does treat herself from time to time. (After all, she is only human!) Her weakness tends to be chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven with milk on the side of course (via FN Dish). "I have a weakness for chocolate chip cookies that I will never grow out of!" she told Restaurant Girl

She doesn't just have a sweet tooth, though. Amanda told Food Network that she occasionally craves a good juicy burger. And in an interview with The Daily Beast, she confessed, "I do have a 'crunch' addiction, so if I happen to be hungry after a shoot day, I will grab a bag of really good tortilla chips and dip them into some seasoned sour cream." Us too, Amanda, us too.

She's a snob about mayonnaise

As one of America's favorite celebrity chefs — and as someone who trained under some of the world's best cooks from New York to Paris (via the CIA) — it's no surprise that Amanda Freitag has pretty strong opinions about some foods. But what might surprise you is the food that she's very particular about: mayonnaise. "I have a lot of arguments with chef-y friends about mayo," she told Food Republic, explaining that you absolutely have to make your own.

"That's the only thing I'm gonna be pretentious about," she went on to say. "The jarred stuff? I can't do it." Amanda did admit that she doesn't always have the time or energy to break out her KitchenAid mixer just to whip up a batch of mayo. Instead of settling for store-bought mayonnaise, though, she'll use sour cream, mustard, or vinaigrette on her sandwiches. Sorry, Hellmann's.

She didn't always want to be a chef

Given her success in the culinary world, it's easy to assume that Amanda Freitag was born not with a spoon in her mouth but in her hand (or rather, a whisk or chef's knife). But believe it or not, she didn't always know she was destined to become a chef. In fact, if you had asked young Amanda what she wanted to be when she grew up, the answer would have had nothing to do with food at all.

"I would have been some sort of an artist/performer," she answered in response to FN Dish's question about what career she would have tried if she wasn't a chef. "I love the instant gratification of making people happy with my work." As for what type of performer specifically, Amanda told Restaurant Girl that she always wanted to be a dancer. Although she admits that being a chef is an equally "high endurance career."