The 24 in 24 Judges Tips for Success for New Chefs

Life in the kitchen can be super rewarding, but it can also be extremely tough. That’s especially true in Food Network Canada’s newest series, 24 in 24: Last Chef Standing. These competitors must survive an all-out chef marathon for 24 hours straight if they want to win the $50,000 grand prize, and that course is paved with extra challenges.


So what does it take to win this competition and thrive in the culinary industry? Read on for expert advice from the show’s judges, and watch 24 in 24: Last Chef Standing on Food Network Canada. Stream Food Network Canada with a STACKTV subscription. Try it free today.

Be adaptable

One of the most critical skills any chef can learn is adaptability. Even the best-laid plans can fall apart in the kitchen, says 24 in 24 judge Stephanie Izard. So, being able to pivot and adapt is essential.

“Chefs have to adapt every day. It’s something we do on the daily, but in competition, it becomes even more important,” she explains.

“What I’m looking for in these chefs is to be able to think on the fly. When something is thrown at you that you’re not expecting, to not let it derail you, to be able to stay focused and quickly come up with a new plan, quickly adapt, even quicker than we do at our own restaurants.”

For example, in the video above, Izard shows how a chef can recreate buttermilk for biscuits using vinegar or lemon.

“It’s all about seeing what’s around you in the kitchen, what you use that’s out of the norm, and just adapt,” she adds. 

Related: How Chefs are Preparing for 24 in 24: Last Chef Standing

Don’t play it safe

When you’re competing in a high-stakes situation, you need to be able to rely on your technical skills to get the job done. However, you also shouldn’t be afraid to take risks, says 24 in 24 judge Maneet Chauhan.

“You’ve got to take a risk. Big risk, big rewards. That has been my mantra throughout my life, and it’s worked for me. Take the risk,” she says.

Chauhan says that cooks should step outside their comfort zones and use new ingredients and techniques to improve their skills.

“Risk-taking is essential to competition cooking because it pushes you to do things that when you’re not taking a risk, you yourself wouldn’t know you can do,” she says.

The judge adds that she is looking for competitors who can think outside the box, but only if they can executive their vision correctly. “Think it through,” she adds. “Take a risk, but it needs to be a calculated risk.”

Related: Warm Up With Binge-Worthy Shows to Watch in May

Get resourceful

If you want to run a successful kitchen, you need to be able to utilize each ingredient to its maximum potential, says judge Scott Conant. Proving that in the 24 in 24 competition is just the start.

“Number one, it’s respect for the product, and number two, there’s financial gain to be made,” he says. “You have to nickel and dime your way to profitability when you have a business.”

Conant adds that thinking about how to use an entire ingredient is also helpful at home, given how expensive food is these days. He uses the potato as an example, saying it’s equally important to find a use for the skin and the flesh, even if you fry up one and mash the other.  

“To be able to utilize these ingredients in a great way, so that you’re creating multiple dishes from the same product, there’s something really fun in that. It’s really challenging and it’s super creative,” he says.

“It’s the chefs that are the most unique with that resourcefulness; those are the chefs who are really going to move forward or at least give them an edge in this round.”

Related: Chef Scott Conant’s Mozzarella in Carozza with Cherry Tomato Sauce

Plate It Well

Preparing food that looks as good as it tastes is super important, says judge Eric Adjepong. After all, we eat with our eyes first. Plus, given the importance of social media in today’s dining experience (from attracting customers to including Instagram-worthy backdrops), visuals can make or break a business.

“You want to make sure your plate is inviting. You want to make sure that there’s colour, there’s height, there’s composition, and there’s a story to tell,” he advises. 

The chef says one of the best ways to be artistic when crafting a memorable plate is to ensure there’s an idea and a direction. Of course, taste and beauty also factor in, so competitors should also connect with the food and make it taste good with solid techniques. 

“I’m looking for chefs to really put their creative spin on a plate,” he adds. “Psychologically, food tastes better when it looks better. You’re enjoying something that somebody put time in, not only the cook-wise, but to make sure it’s plated beautifully as well.”

Related: Eric Adjepong’s Basic Salsa