Nyesha Arrington shares key qualities for a successful Next Level Chef, interview

Nyesha Arrington on Next Level Chef Season 3
Nyesha Arrington on Next Level Chef Season 3 / FOX

Nyesha Arrington has always been a force in the kitchen. Her accolades in the culinary world are many and she uses that knowledge, experience, and perspective to help mentor her team on Next Level Chef Season 3. During a recent conversation with FoodSided, Chef Arrington offered her insight on the characteristics that make a successful culinary competition chef as well as her thoughts on Team Arrington earning the ultimate prize.

Heading into the third season, FOX’s Next Level Chef looked to add another twist to the competition. Each group, the professional, home, and social media chefs, competed in audition rounds to earn their spot in the draft. For mentor/judge Chef Nyesha Arrington, the insight helped her create a well-rounded team. While creativity is vital to success, she was looking for a little extra.

Although Gordon Ramsay poached one chef from her team, Chef Arrington took it in stride. When asked about the moment, she shared, “we are building a community. Through the different seasons of Team Arrington they all supported each other. What I am looking for is people, who first and foremost, respect that team title and want to wear it as a badge of honor. I am not going to try to convince you to be here.”

As seen in the first round, Team Arrington rose to the top with excellent smash burgers. While the view from above might be stellar, no one wants to fall from grace. Chef Arrington believes that the community and sharing ideas within the culinary world can be that supportive environment for everyone to succeed.

Chef Arrington said, “in any craft, it is important to share ideas because while your ideas are unique to you, other people can take that idea and build off of it. That concept is what we see in the culinary world, in social media. There is real power behind that shared experience.”

Beyond that magic in the creative moment, Chef Arrington appreciates the talent that these chefs possess allows them to harness that creativity.

She shared, “chefs are an alchemist. They are using the elements, the components of a plate, to create a memorable moment. We are nothing without a strong foundation to build on and tasting along the way, checking on salt balance, acid, sweetness, and tailoring those moments to create a successful dish is key.”

As Next Level Chef fans have seen, Chef Arrington is always tasting her chefs’ dishes and asking poignant questions to get them to think as they cook. Whether it is a mid-round pivot or recovering from a mis-step, there is plenty to learn along the way.

Chef Arrington believes that the errors are vital to becoming a better chef. She said, “we learn from the failures. Ultimately our responsibility as a the mentor on this program is to help guide them and keep those ideas on track. Sometimes it is not in the cards. I’m there to help guide them, but some days are more success than others. The days that they learn the most are when things didn’t work.”

In some ways, her choice for Team Arrington’s immunity pin seems to support that mentorship approach. When she awarded the immunity pin to Christina, Chef Arrington mentioned her choice was because Christina was coachable.

When asked about this approach, Chef Arrington said, “for me that immunity is an added facet, or tool, for the chef to have another layer of protection. I want to protect my assets. It is very clear that someone who has the best dish has the tools to get them really far. Someone who is coachable might be a success longer down the line. That is the beauty and essence of a team.”

While Next Level Chef Season 3 is still in the beginning competition stage, Team Arrington seems to be set up for success. Looking at her group, Chef Arrington created that community that can support one another.

As she said, “there are days were people soar and there are days where people fail. When you can count on your teammate to pull you out of the trenches, it is the test of a good teammate. They are there to support you at your best and to support you when you do not succeed. That is what rounds out Team Arrington. It is what ultimately carries people far because you can only go so far standing alone.”

Whether or not a member of Team Arrington hoists the Next Level Chef trophy at the end of Season 3 remains to be seen, but Chef Arrington is ready to grab the glory away from Gordon Ramsay and Richard Blais. While she admitted that the competition is fierce, she definitely wants the bragging rights.

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