The Worst Mistake A Cooking Show Contestant Can Make, According To Cat Cora

If you're like us, you love a good cooking show—delicious food, insane talent, witty remarks, and, of course, a little drama. Not to mention, it's pretty admirable that contestants can keep it together on camera when faced with time constraints and the pressure of making the perfect dish. But things don't always go as planned. Even the calmest and collected competitors can make classic mistakes that could penalize them, like under- or overcooking a dish or forgetting to use a key ingredient. "Chopped" host Ted Allen revealed to Mashable that contestants not using all of the mystery basket ingredients or overcooking dishes are two of the most common mistakes he's witnessed on the show.

Adding her expertise is world-renowned chef Cat Cora, who has some advice for those amateur cooks considering taking the leap of faith and signing up to be a contestant on a cooking competition show. And it isn't what you think. According to Cora, how you prepare the meals can make or break your time on the show and whether you survive to cook another challenge.

Cat Cora says to let the ingredients shine

The "Iron Chef of America" star advises cooking show contestants to keep things simple when preparing dishes, even when the clock is ticking or when working with limited ingredients. According to Insider, Cora suggests that sometimes contestants "overdo" it, instead of letting the ingredients and flavor speak for themselves. It makes sense that competitors will do whatever they can to outshine their opponents and stay on the show. Unfortunately, an overpowering dish can be to their detriment. "They put too much of and too many ingredients in the dish," Cora told the Insider. "So there isn't a clean flavor to them. They use too many sauces and garnishes." 

As Cora suggests, some ingredients are better left unaltered. Using sauces, especially garnishes, is a good way to cover up what would otherwise be a perfect dish. It can also distract the judges and diners from the flavor that lies beneath. So, if you're considering signing up for Food Network's "Chopped" or "MasterChef," remember to take a breath when the clock starts and keep things simple. It might just carry you all the way to the finish line.