TV Shows & Podcasts

ATK: Next Gen’s Jessica Lawson Discusses How She Gets “Pumped Up” Before Each Episode

Before the cameras started rolling, Jessica and the rest of the cast had a special ritual.
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Published Jan. 26, 2023.

We know Jessica as America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation’s bubbly food blogger who, like everyone else in the competition, has experienced her fair share of triumphs and defeats throughout the challenges.

Unfortunately, Jessica was sent home in Episode 7 of the show, but while she may have left the test kitchen, she’s certainly not giving up on a life behind the camera—or the counter.

Watch America's Test Kitchen: The Next Generation for free here!

Jessica spoke about her time on the show, how she kept up her infectious energy, and what’s next in her culinary journey.

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Tell me about your experience on Next Gen!

I had a wonderful experience. I would say the highlight was just the cast . . . everybody was so supportive and nice to each other! I was really scared to be on TV, but they made it easy. We still chat every day; I’m so excited to watch the rest of the show.

What was the biggest lesson you took away from being on the show?

It was very nerve-racking! This was a really good exercise in thinking on your feet and doing things quickly and being resourceful with what you have, which I think is a really important skill for anybody. Not everybody has the luxury of thinking about food and going grocery shopping for hours. So that was a little bit out of my comfort zone for sure, but it was definitely a really good learning experience. 

Jessica Lawson

You went home on a difficult challenge: having to combine two different textures in a single bake. How did that day play out for you?

I thought the cooking demonstration challenge was really fun. It was almost kind of a relief for me, because—I don't know if you could tell—but I do like to ham it up on camera! So I thought to myself, “Oh, finally I know I can do this!” So that was a real confidence boost. But in the test challenge, I think I focused too much on one texture. I love to bake, but Im a recipe follower when it comes to baking. And then baking something “smooth” is just so hard. So, you know, the outcome was what it was. I was just happy that I produced something that tasted pretty good. Of course, it was disappointing to get eliminated, but I was actually pretty proud of myself for what I was able to do there.

Jessica Lawon

Did you have any pre-show rituals that kept you pumped up before each episode?

You know, I kind of just do a couple seconds of deep breathing. We really missed Basil after he was eliminated because he was like our cast dad, and he used to give us a pep talk before every challenge, so we were all really sad when he had to go home. But also, when we were walking onto set, one of the producers would play a little walk-out song for us, so we kind of danced our way in to get a little bit pumped up. 

What’s next for you, Jessica?

That the ultimate dream is to be on a show. Whether its collaborating with the Next Gen cast in the future, or be involved in some other way or have my own show . . . I can see that for myself.

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