‘Guy’s Grocery Games’ Winner Dishes Insightful Advice – ‘Focus on Gameplay’ [Exclusive]

Guy Fieri superfan and food blogger Heather Johnson not only competed on Food Network‘s Guy’s Grocery Games, but she also came out a winner.

Johnson walked away with $20,000 and fulfilled a dream of getting to meet not only Fieri but Fieri’s son Hunter, Antonia Lofaso from Top Chef, Damaris Phillips, and Justin Warner. She said the experience was a whirlwind and reflected on how she got on the show, offering advice to future contestants.

How did Heather get on ‘Guy’s Grocery Games’?

Johnson’s food blog, Food Hussy has all the elements of a Guy Fieri fan. She told Showbiz Cheat Sheet she applied to be on Guy’s Grocery Games in the past and producers reached out to her for the superfan episode.

Chef Guy Fieri show a big piece of meat he is grilling to the camera
Guy Fieri | Dylan Rives/Getty Images for SOBEWFF®

“They saw that I had done some Guy Fieri recipes and I’d been on a Carnival cruise and I literally went to have Guy’s burger on the cruise,” she said. “[The audtion] was a phone call and two or three video calls with different people.”

How did she prepare for the show?

Johnson’s professional chef friends who were on Guy’s Grocery Games in the past said there was no way to prepare for the show. So she created her own plan. “I decided I’m going to practice cooking in 20 minutes because usually, they give you 30 minutes. But that’s to listen, shop, plate, everything,” she explained.

“I knew there were going to be nerves and stuff like that,” she added. “So I created 15 dishes. And I made them over and over and over for about three weeks. I timed myself, making sure I could cook them in 20 minutes.”

But then she laughed. “Then I got there and it all went out the window because I was cooking Guy’s recipes,” she recalled from her episode. “But I think practicing cooking in a timely fashion and knowing what you can and can’t get done in 20 minutes, helped. But other than that, prep was a waste.” Johnson and the other three contestants were greeted with a redacted Guy Fieri burger recipe – a challenge no one saw coming.

She also got a tour of the grocery store beforehand. “You do get to look around the store and then you just yell for people to help you,” she said about the shopping portion of the show.

What advice does Heather have for future ‘Guy’s Grocery Games’ contestants?

“Just go for it. Don’t admit mistakes and just go for it. Practice cooking fast. But I think when you get in there, it’s about gameplay,” she dished. “It’s about how you play the game because those game aspects are a big part of it. So focus on gameplay, practice cooking, and just listen to everybody around you. They’re there to help you.”

Johnson gave an example of what she meant by gameplay. “The first [challenge] they gave us a recipe redacted. Half the ingredients and instructions were blacked out. I look back and wish I could do that over because it’s like I was so focused on the recipe and getting exactly what was in the recipe.”

Listen and follow the cues during the show, Heather Johnson advises

Johnson said that focus is a big path to victory on Guy’s Grocery Games. She recalled how she could have attacked the redacted recipe in a different way.

“I should have been a little bit more like, ‘OK this is Guy’s recipe. Now I need to make it my own.’ And these blacked-out spots are where I do that,” she envisioned. “But sticking to that recipe, and making sure I had the right key ingredients was a big thing. Like it was beef and it was poblano peppers. So it’s like, let’s not miss those things.”

“And the second [challenge] was we got to make one of Guy’s recipes and we had the whole recipe. So it’s like, don’t miss salt, don’t miss acid. Make sure that you’ve got the feeling of his recipe in your dish.”

“We also had to cook and shop in three minutes,” she recalled. “So, making sure that when you’re shopping in three minutes with a little basket, you get all your ingredients. Don’t forget a main thing, like don’t forget the cheese, things like that.”

“I think it’s just listening to what they say [is important],” she concluded. Johnson used a challenge example of the decadent brunch. “Make sure you don’t have one pancake on the plate,” she pointed out. “When they say decadent, that means [decadant]. So just listening to their cues of what they’re looking for and then nailing that on the head.”

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