Alexandra Donnadio shares how Next Level Chef ignited her culinary curiosity, interview

Alexandra Donnadio on Next Level Chef Season 3
Alexandra Donnadio on Next Level Chef Season 3 / FOX

While she was eliminated on a good dish, Alexandra Donnadio recalls her time on Next Level Chef Season 3 fondly. A home cook on Team Arrington, Alexandria’s final dishes are ones that she stands behind and would have kept her safe in many other episodes. Although she did not earn the title, Alexandra not only gained experience but also gained a great desire to learn more and keep pushing her culinary dreams further.

In her final Next Level Chef episode, Alexandra was able to showcase what she does best, cook meat. The co-owner of Oak and Ivy Catering, she has a passion for cooking meat over an open flame. Even if the FOX culinary competition did not give her an opportunity to cook a whole cow, one aspect of the competition made her feel comfortable.

Unlike some of the professional chefs, Alexandra said that she felt at home in the basement. She said “in the basement we had nothing, but I felt most useful there. When you cook outside, you really don’t have much to use or to work with. I was most uncomfortable in the top kitchen because there were a lot of appliances that I had never seen before or even knew how to turn on.”

Maybe if Alexandra had her preferences, the elimination round would have been held in the basement kitchen. Could have that switch changed the outcome? No one will ever know.

But, Alexandra is proud of her two final dishes on Next Level Chef Season 3. As she mentioned, “I made a perfectly cooked steak and I think it was the best dish to show my creativity and what I can do in that limited time. I’m glad that I went into elimination with a good dish.”

Even with her chicken wings, she has a positive outlook on what she presented and would not change it. She believes that it can down to interpreting the idea behind the challenge.

Alexandra said, “I think that they wanted something different that just a good, classic wing. I took the challenge literally, a pub wing. When you go to a pub on Sunday, you want Buffalo wings, but I understand that it is Next Level Chef. I was somewhat conflicted. I stuck with what I knew, but it was playing it safe.”

The outcome does not take away that she made a great chicken wing. More importantly, the whole Next Level Chef experience gave her more tools to add to her repertoire. Whether it is learning techniques from other chef friends to soaking up knowledge at barbecue competitions, she is constantly striving to get better.

That characteristic was one of the reasons why Nyesha Arrington picked Alexandra for Team Arrington. When asked about how it felt being on that team, Alexandra said, “I’m really glad that she picked me because she pushed me out of my comfort zone. She really made me think every time that she spoke to me. I felt that it was exactly what I needed in the kitchen.”

Now that her time on Next Level Chef Season 3 is complete, Alexandra is focusing on her barbecue competitions and her catering company. From an upcoming bid at Memphis in May to other opportunities closer to home, she is constantly busy splitting her time between her culinary dreams and her job in law enforcement.

When asked if there are any similarities between the two fields, she mentioned, “in a way, both situations are a way of helping people. I went into law enforcement because I wanted to help people and with cooking I feel like I’m helping people through food.”

While the open flame cooking and the ballistics department might have their respective hot zones, Alexandra is ready and willing to handle that heat and strives to build on her success. And for anyone who is a little timid about cooking over that grill flame. She offers the following analogy.

“The next time you are in the kitchen and you turn the stove on high, put your hand over it then lower the temperature and put your hand over it. You can tell if it is too hot just by the number of seconds that you can hold your hand over the heat. The concept is similar to an open flame. It is a great visual to show people that cooking on an open flame is not as intimidating as it looks is.”

Handling the pressure, not being intimidated, and staying true to yourself are all characteristics that Alexandra Donnadio has. She might not have won this season, but she is on her path to becoming a successful Next Level Chef.

Next Level Chef Season 3 airs new episodes Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Episodes can be streamed the next day on Hulu.

Alexandra Donnadio is co-own of Iron and Oat Catering Company, located in New Jersey.