That brings up an interesting question: How do you approach the eating part of judging so that your palate doesn’t get blown out? Do you have to eat a ton of food by the end of the day?
You do. Right now I would say that I’m sort of purging, getting ready for our next season. But you do, and you mentioned fatigue, which is like your palate getting blown out. That is a really good question, because especially early on in these auditions, we are tasting lots of food. You have to take the marathoner’s mentality of being an eater. There are a lot of times when there’s a delicious plate in front of us, but we can’t sit off to the side and eat a whole steak, so it’s a couple of bites to get the judgment through and then to move along. But it is more challenging than people think to have to eat a lot of food and then also have to have the depth of vocabulary to describe it so that you’re not just saying, “It needs salt, it needs acidity,” or whatever it is.
Are you just eating celery sticks and baby carrots the rest of the day to get through it?
I wish. No. I still love to sit down and have eating experiences, to have a nice lunch. I will say that, yes, sometimes because we eat so much, I’m playing ping-pong during lunch with Nyesha instead of chowing down on a sandwich. But, no, I love the process of sitting down and having a great meal.
I know you gave up alcohol and soda and all of that stuff as part of your health transformation. In honor of Dry January, do you have any interesting booze-free beverages that you find yourself returning to?
Oh, well listen, I think we’re in a great time for that, because the mocktail has been with us for a few years, and I think you can get lots of great mixology done without adding any alcohol to it, so it’s a great time for it. I am a sucker for sparkling beverages, so seltzer of all different sorts. Listen, if you squeeze a lime and crush some mint into a seltzer, you’re pretty much at mojito. There are lots of ways. Citrus is one. A twist of lime, twist of lemon here and there, and some sparkling water does it for me.