Inside Look: Ultimate Recipe Showdown

Originally posted May 30, 2009.

We have all watched the many cooking contests scattered across the dial and thought, “I could do that.” And many more have wondered what it is like to go through some of those intense competitions like say, Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown.

Well Fed blogger Jenny Flake has done just that. Flake is no stranger to big time cooking contests.  She has competed in Build-A-Better-Burger, the esteemed Pillsbury Bake-off and has even appeared on Food Network six times in the last five years.  Flake is so comfortable in the spot light that noted Pheonix-area food writer Jess Harter has suggested she get her own show.

On February 8th Food Network aired the dessert competition of season 2 of Ultimate Recipe Showdown hosted by Guy Fieri and Jenny was there to dazzle the judges with her Roasted Banana Bread Drop Doughnuts. So what was the experience like?  Glad you asked:

Edible TV: You are a veteran cooking contest competitor, how was Ultimate Recipe Showdown different?

Jenny Flake: The Ultimate Recipe Showdown was different because we got to compete right in the Food Network Studios.  They actually made us a set right in the Iron Chef Arena.  I would say this was by far the best competition I have been to.

ET: Can you briefly describe the process from initial entry to showtime?

JF: The initial entry time was a period of about 6-8 weeks where Food Network was accepting recipes for the show.  When the contest closes, you wait for a couple months before you hear anything at all.

I remember them calling me in the summer during my lunch break at work saying I made it through the first cut for the dessert show.  At this time, they required us to submit an additional recipe that could be made from start to finish in 30 minutes that would also be prepared on the show in a speed round.  We also were asked to send in a 5 minute video of us preparing a recipe.

A couple weeks later up to I think a month, they called back and said I had made it as an official finalist for the dessert show.  At this point, we still had a couple months before the show.  In the meantime, there was paperwork to send in to get ready for the trip.

Showtime started the day before we actually went on set.  We had a pre-interview basically talking all about our recipes from start to finish.  The next day started bright and early at 6:00am at the Food Network Studios.  We got mic’d and waited for our cue to go set up our kitchens.  The set was incredible.  We had a full kitchen to work with and a “kitchen helper” to bring us everything we needed for both of our recipes. Right before we got started, Guy Fieri came and
chatted with us.

We had an hour and a half for our signature round then a half hour for the speed round.  The time went really fast, especially during the speed round.  Ingredients were flying all over the place!

Sitting in front of the judges was the most nerve racking moment of the day.  You are just hoping they say something positive.  Thank goodness I got very positive remarks from them, so although I was not crowned the Grand Prize winner, I felt good about both dishes that I brought to the judges.

ET: What emotions did you experience when you entered the studio for the first time?

JF: It was such an honor entering the Food Network Studios.  Right after stepping foot out of the elevator, you see the big Food Network logo onthe wall and are greeted with a security guard.  I think it really hit me thatI was there when they walked us through the test kitchens.  It was just likeI remember seeing it on tv.  It was hard to believe I was really working whereall of the great Food Network Chefs work.

ET: This is the question that has to be asked, how cool was it meeting Guy Fieri?

JF: Guy Fieri couldn’t have been nicer.  He was just as cool and down to earth as he seems on tv.  He spent time chatting with each of us, making us all feelcomfortable.  It was nice to know he is a genuine and kind person.

ET: How has the exposure from URS changed your life?

JF: I wouldn’t say the exposure from URS has changed my life, but I will say that it is an experience that will never be forgotten.  Every time I compete in a competition I always learn something new.
Meeting the other finalists, and improving on the comments that the judges give you are the things that I treasure from competition to competition.

ET: Can we expect to see you on future episodes?

JF: I will say yes, you will see me on future episodes!  It is by far one of the most exciting cooking competitions I have done.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less
Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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