Chef Ari Vazquez discusses her Next Level Chef dish that wowed the judges, interview

Chef Ari Vazquez Next Level Chef Season 3
Chef Ari Vazquez Next Level Chef Season 3 / FOX

While she might have stepped into the Next Level Chef competition with the desire to cook for her idol, Gordon Ramsay, Chef Ari Vazquez made a huge impression during the audition rounds. Although her time in the FOX culinary competition could have been longer, Chef Ari told FoodSided that the experience was rewarding and an opportunity to further develop her culinary creativity.

In Next Level Chef Season 3 curry episode, Chef Ari was eliminated from the competition. While her turmeric heavy curry earned her a spot in the elimination round, it was the skin on her butter chicken that caused her to be voted off the FOX culinary competition.

When asked about this error, Chef Ari mentioned that she did not realize that there was skin on the chicken. She said, “it all goes very, very fast. The first thing that you’re thinking about is seasoning everything, but you have to pay attention.” She admitted that she should have taken more time to examine that protein.

While that mistake caused her to be eliminated, Chef Ari was proud of the dish’s qualities. “I loved my sauce. I thought it was delicious and authentic.”

Even though her time on Next Level Chef was short, her first dish has earned her a special spot in the show’s history. That hot dog meatball continues to have people talking. The unexpected, creative dish was clearly a standout in the audition round.

Speaking about this dish, Chef Ari said, that “it was just that voice in your head. It tells you to ask no questions, just execute. I had no idea what I was going to do with the hot dog and parmesan. I am glad that I did what I did.”

As a dish that will probably be on the show’s highlight reel for a long time, it shows the importance of culinary creativity as well as food knowledge. Both aspects are required for a chef to do well in Next Level Chef. Preparation, mental and physical, is vital for this FOX culinary competition.

Chef Ari said she prepared in various ways, but she conceded that “there is really nothing that can prepare you for this competition. Everything that you think that you know or will expect flies out the window.”  While she might have wanted control in that situation, the chefs need to be able to adapt to the ingredients, the kitchen, their fellow competitions, and all the other elements of this fast-paced culinary competition.

Looking back at her experience, Chef Ari is proud of what she presented. She believes that it is a good representation of her approach to cooking.

Even with the ostrich burger, that moment was an idea that can have people discovering a flavorful protein. Chef Ari said, “I love ostrich meat and it is a protein that I have used for a while. I have a background in cooking for athletes and I like to elevate healthy cooking. It does not have to be plain chicken and rice. You can still eat healthy and have that food be interesting.”

That type of balanced eating seems to flavor her culinary style. While Chef Ari said that her preference is fine dining, with an emphasis on steakhouse and Italian cuisine, she has traveled the world. During those experiences, she has discovered how to use those environments to explore ingredients and flavors. It might be adapting in the moment, but it opens her to seeing connections across food cultures.

As a private chef, Chef Ari gets to see first hand how food impacts her clients. She mentioned that cooking brings her joy and, more importantly, she finds fulfillment in bringing those happy moments to others. Her goal is to “make people happy and tie memories to meals.”

What is next for Chef Ari Vazquez? The culinary world is wide open to a plethora of opportunities and many people are excited to sit down to a table and enjoy a plate of her food.

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