The Most Overused Ingredient On Cooking Competitions, According To Jamika Pessoa

Celebrity chef and TV personality Jamika Pessoa is a relatable culinary icon who gives great advice to home cooks and, obviously, her fans. That reliability was on full display in an interview with CNBC Make It, where Pessoa dished on everything from buying in bulk to eating on a budget. The Food Network co-host of "Let's Eat" shares that it's possible to eat the way you want and plan your expenses, as long as you think outside of the box and focus on the ingredients in your pantry. Pessoa recommends keeping versatile ingredients on hand, like canned beans, chicken broth, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar, because they can be used in various ways for different recipes. 

If anyone knows a thing or two about tasty dishes made with budget-friendly ingredients, it's Pessoa. In fact, there's one particular ingredient she can't live without when it comes to making salad dressing and marinade, and that's Dijon mustard. And while vinegar is a common ingredient she uses — as she told CNBC Make It — to add flavor to her dishes and elevate leftovers, there's one particular food item Pessoa admits is overused in cooking competitions. Hint: It's beloved meat that's delicious, crispy, and, frankly, a greasy strip of heaven. 

Jamika Pessoa is not too fond of bacon

If you guessed bacon, you're correct! Although bacon can be eaten as a side or incorporated into any recipe, including desserts, Pessoa believes many chefs and home cooks on cooking competition shows rely too much on the ingredient. According to Insider, Pessoa reasons that contestants can achieve a lot more by using ingredients other than bacon while preparing a meal. 

"Bacon doesn't make everything better," she told Insider. "Just [the] word 'bacon' makes people smile. However, there are other ways to develop that quick smoky flavor and texture." So what does Pessoa suggest competitors use as a meaty substitute? Sausage. She recommends "browning smoked sausage" to achieve that same bold flavor. She also shared with Business Insider India that cream cheese is another versatile and accessible ingredient that cooks should use. "In my opinion, cream cheese is a superhero in the kitchen that makes just about anything better in a crunch," she explained.

Pessoa's logic is simple: getting out of your comfort zone isn't a bad idea and hot picks like bacon are not always a smart choice when you are trying to beat other skilled chefs.