Chopped judge and Food Network star Alex Guarnaschelli has a confession to make.

Before she got her start on the network, the executive chef of New York City’s Butter restaurant used to watch her future friend and mentor Bobby Flay “all the time”—but she wasn’t exactly a fan.

In an excerpt of her Q&A from People’s special edition, The Stars of Food Network, on newsstands now, Guarnaschelli reveals what turned her off about the TV star—plus the best piece of advice he ever gave her since they’ve become lifelong friends.

Who did you watch before becoming a Food Network star?

I used to watch Bobby Flay because he was on all the time. And I was like, “I don’t like that guy. That guy thinks he’s so cool with his grill and spatula.” I couldn’t have been more wrong. He’s one of my closest friends now. I realized it was probably just jealousy. He’s amazing!

I also used to watch Ina Garten. Remember the painter Bob Ross, the “fluffly little clouds” guy with the hypnotic voice? I think Ina is the Bob Ross of food. I wanted her roast chicken, I wanted to go pick those tulips and make the biscuits with vanilla extract in them. I would just pretend that I was inside her life and in her kitchen.

RELATED: Why Giada De Laurentiis Didn’t Speak to Bobby Flay for 8 Months: ‘I Thought, You’re a Jerk’

Were you nervous on the set? 

I decided that the camera wasn’t there. If you’re being true in that context, you’re just feeling like it’s a privilege and it’s super fun. I started with some daytime shows like Alex’s Day Off,  which Bobby produced. He stood on the set with his mirrored sunglasses like a fire-breathing dragon.
I was terrified!

WATCH: Take a Tour of Chef Alex Guarnaschelli’s Restaurant During the Holiday Season

Bobby didn’t show you the ropes?

He did—by saying there are no ropes. Just cook. He also said a few very simple, valuable things to me. He told me, “Make sure you like what you’re wearing and make sure you’re comfortable.” I know that sounds like a silly thing, but it’s really important, and it’s something I had to learn. If your shirt’s pulling on you or you feel funny in your pants or your shoes are uncomfortable, it really affects your performance.

Read new interviews with your favorite Food Network stars in People’s special edition, The Stars of Food Networkon sale on Amazon and wherever magazines are sold.

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