Antonia Lofaso Reveals The Real Reason Cooking Competitions Are So Stressful

Chef and restaurateur Antonia Lofaso knows her way around a kitchen very well, but she also knows her way around the set of cooking competitions. Lofaso has competed on two seasons of the popular cooking competition show "Top Chef," first appearing in season four and then returning for the "Top Chef: All-Stars" season (via IMDb). She also had the chance to be a judge on several cooking competitions, including "Cutthroat Kitchen," "Family Food Showdown," "Iron Chef America: The Series" and much more. Given Lofaso's extensive experience with culinary competition shows, it makes sense that she would have a unique perspective on what exactly makes them notoriously stressful.

According to Lofaso, the reason cooking competitions are so stressful is because the competitors have to juggle so much simultaneously (via Insider). If they were only required to whip up a tasty dish, they might not be quite as frazzled, although the time limits and particular challenge restrictions definitely can throw a wrench into the works. It's more the fact that they have to create an incredible dish while also showing off a bit of personality and sharing their opinions and thoughts with the cameramen who are lingering nearby. Just imagine struggling with a tough component of a dish while the host shouts that there are only five minutes remaining in your cooking time and a producer is asking you to explain to the camera exactly what you're doing, while all you want to do is focus on your dish. 

A few more tips from Lofaso for future competitors

The trickiest part of cooking competitions will always be balancing the stress of all those things happening at once — the actual cooking process, the cameras filming everything, the probing questions from various judges and guest judges, etc. However, there are a few other things to consider if you want to do well in a cooking competition.

When trying to craft a show-stopping dish that will impress the judges, Lofaso urges competitors not to forget about the actual guidelines of whatever show they're on or whatever challenge they're in (via Insider). So, if a contestant is creating a dish for a challenge that's all about mushrooms, but they use a sprinkle of mushrooms as a mere garnish, that's not really following the challenge brief. The dish must taste good, of course, but it also needs to be what the judges were looking for in that particular challenge. She also believes that chefs should always keep their own unique identity and personality in mind when it comes to creating dishes, making sure that they're serving up something that actually seems like it would come from their kitchen.