Lauren Smith is ready to soar higher after Next Level Chef Season 3, interview

Lauren Smith brought her high flying culinary experiences to Next Level Chef Season 3. While one dish might have grounded her chances at the title, she has a clear runaway to takeoff towards a multitude of food business opportunities.
Lauren Smith, Next Level Chef Season 3
Lauren Smith, Next Level Chef Season 3 / FOX

As the second chef Richard Blais picked for his team, Lauren Smith was ready to prove herself on Next Level Chef Season 3. Since she had spent countless hours whipping up impeccable meals in a plane's galley, the basement confines that Team Blais often faced did not cause her to fret. Now that her time on the FOX culinary competition has reached its end point, Lauren has a full slate of food adventures waiting for her.

During a recent conversation with FoodSided, Lauren revealed the ups and downs of her Next Level Chef Season 3 journey. Although she has traveled across the globe and is a successful business woman, the pressure and the chaos of this food competition is unlike any other.

While Lauren admitted that she never wanted to let Richard Blais down, she knew that being picked second for Team Blais came with some pressure. It might not be a billionaire client who wants it all, but the refined palate and high expectations from the mentors were tough to please.

Since she learned to use space and tools efficiently in a plane galley, the basement was not a huge hardship for her. Lauren mentioned, “the basement was very comfortable for me. It is what I am used to.” Whether it was finding that one burner which worked or creating ways to focus a dish, those limited resources could have been a gift.

Lauren referenced a situation in her final episode when Team Blais was in the top kitchen. In some ways, she found the scenario slightly overwhelming. “There are so many different things that you can use. I used the smoker for some beautifully smoked mushrooms in my dish and I forgot to put them on the plate. It could have really elevated the dish.”

That pressure and chaos are some of the reasons that make Next Level Chef engaging to watch but difficult for the chefs. Grabbing from the platform is not like a stroll through the grocery store.

Lauren described the platform grab as “tunnel vision.” She explained, “when that platform comes down, you almost black out. There are so many different things and you are grabbing just to grab something. Then, you hope to just make it work.”

Since Lauren has traveled around the world, she is familiar with a multitude of ingredients. From Korean spices to sea beans, the reality is that flavor knowledge can be helpful for any of the chefs. When that quick grab produces something like bergamot, Lauren was not stumped by the uncommon flavor.

While an appreciation for fine cuisine and flavor helped her, it was her visually compelling plates that caught the eye of the Next Level Chef team. When asked about her ability to create an enticing image, she said, “I come from an artistic background, so I have a good appreciation for color and balance.”

But, as every cook knows, the look and taste need to go hand in hand. Although Lauren admitted there was a time where she could not boil water, her willingness to learn, explore, and apply knowledge allowed her to develop her cooking skills. From high in the sky to rooted in her home kitchen, she is never afraid to turn failures into triumphs.

One challenge that Lauren set for herself was to never make the same dish twice while she was working on private planes. She calculated that she has probably served over 10,000 different dishes. That number is astonishing. It goes to show that she is always willing to accept a challenge.

Although she might disagree with her ending on Next Level Chef, one lobster dish is not going to hold her back from succeeding in the culinary world. Currently, she has numerous food endeavors on her plate. From working with fellow Next Level Chef contestants to starting her own aviation catering company, Lauren Smith will be soaring high for years to come.

Wondering which chef will earn top billing on Next Level Chef Season 3? Be sure to watch new episodes every Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Episodes can be streamed the next day on Hulu.