Alex Guarnaschelli has become ubiquitous on Food Network lately, first on “Chopped” as a frequent judge, and now on her own show, “Alex’s Day Off,” which airs Sunday mornings at 9:30 am ET/PT. The premise of her new show is showing how a working mom, restauranteur and TV personality can juggle all of that and still cook great meals at home.

But our questions focused on Alex regarding her role as a judge on “Chopped.” A few months ago, we published a post asking the producers of the show why the judges have to be so angry and tough on the contestants, and it spawned a lot of comments from viewers who also felt the judges were too harsh. So we had the opportunity to ask Alex about the show–and in particular if the harsh criticism is real or fabricated by producers……

Premium Hollywood: I think I speak for anyone who has watched “Chopped”….are you guys told by the producers to be as harsh as you are to the contestants, or is that how you want to come across?

Alex Guarnaschelli: The producers don’t tell us how to act. We talk a lot, we deliberate, we argue, we struggle with what some contestants make, we wish everyone could be a winner, we sympathize with how the contestants feel, we sweat along with them, because we know how hard it is to compete under such pressure. Sometimes, I may have spoken 10 minutes with someone about their dish and had it edited down to a facial expression due to time. That can be hard to watch! I also think we use a lot of “chef speak”. We speak to each other as we would in the kitchen.

PH: How many moments have there been when you really did not want to try what was on your plate and can you think of one specific example?

AG: Honestly, I can’t think of one time when I didn’t want to try a dish. I almost see it as disrespectful, as a judge, if I don’t give every dish a fair shake. The competitors work really hard at their dishes and I feel that work should be treated with respect.

PH: Do you know what the ingredients are going to be for each round or are you guys as surprised as everyone else?

AG: We have vague ideas but when the basket is revealed, it’s better if we don’t know ahead so that we can provide honest, fresh perspective on what approach we might take if we were cooking.

PH: Have you ever made a comment judging on the show that you wish you could take back?

AG: I probably make at least one comment per episode that I wish I could take back and revise but it’s also what makes it in on the edit floor that dictates a lot of how you come across.

PH: How would you feel about a reverse competition where you and some of the other judges compete against one another?

AG: We have all batted around that idea. Perhaps it will happen one day!

Check out “Chopped” on Tuesday nights and “Alex’s Day Off” on Sunday mornings on Food Network!