The Worst Mistake A Cooking Show Contestant Can Make, According To Maneet Chauhan

Chef Maneet Chauhan is certainly no stranger to cooking competitions, having been a judge on "Chopped" for a decade now, as well as on "Guy's Grocery Games" for several years (via IMDb). She has likely seen just about everything over the years, and her experience allows her to spot the recurring issues and stumbling blocks that contestants on these type of cooking competition shows might face.

While contestants can make many errors during the course of competition, from overcooking a particular ingredient to under seasoning their entire dish, the worst mistake that Chauhan sees has to do with time management. Simply put, contestants try to do far too much in the brief amount of time they have available (via Insider). Contestants come up with endless frills and garnishes and incorporate a variety of cooking techniques, conceptualizing an incredibly complex dish that may not realistically be achievable in the short time span provided during challenges or competition rounds.

Instead, as she advised, "do less but make it perfect." No matter how amazing the concept of a dish is, a competitor needs to be able to flawlessly execute it on a tight timeline, under a whole lot of pressure — adding too many components and steps into the recipe will just increase the chances of something going wrong, somewhere along the line. By paring down and simplifying a dish, as Chauhan suggests, contestants can focus on executing their vision to perfection — and hopefully, to plenty of praise from the judges.

A few other time management tips for contestants

Many fellow chefs and judges, such as Chris Santos, agree with Chauhan's advice to keep things simple when conceptualizing a dish for a competition show. In fact, Santos explicitly told Insider that a dish didn't need to have "100 things happening" in order to be a delicious, memorable plate. It turns out, five types of garnish, all utilizing complex preparation styles and cooking techniques, just isn't necessary for a simple, perfectly seasoned bowl of soup. Chef Aarón Sánchez, who fans may recognize from his role as a judge on "MasterChef," likewise dished to Insider that having a clear timeline in mind and being aware of the short time frame is crucial in competition shows.

Competitors in baking competitions, or those who are simply creating a baked dessert for a competition, have one more time-related issue to consider — cooling time. According to baker Duff Goldman, attempting to quickly cool baked goods by sticking them in a fridge or a freezer can create an undesirably gummy texture, but on the flip side, adding toppings or icing to hot baked goods can lead to a messy, melted pool of buttercream (via The Kitchn). The only way to ensure your baked good is properly cooled is to build some additional time into your overall timeline.