In January I meet a great group of people that the rest of America will get to meet tomorrow night: the chefs of MasterChef Season 6. Tomorrow night reveals the top 40 home cooks in America, and I'm proud to say I was a part of the Top 100 (out of over 40,000 who auditioned) of this group, all starting with an audition in October that made the holiday season of 2014 an interesting one for me.
From October-January, it was audition-city for me -- and it was all a big secret. No one really knew what all was going on in my life for about three months, and to tell the truth, neither did I. Everything was a mystery until January. I never in a million years thought I would audition for a cooking reality show, but when MasterChef came to Memphis and friends and family urged me to "just show up and see what happens," I found myself standing in a hotel ballroom full of MasterChef hopefuls with my Le Creuset dutch oven full of Brown Sugar Braised Short Ribs and my saucepan of Mascarpone Grits sitting in front of me - my signature dish - ready to be plated together and judged. Then a funny thing happened. I was advanced to the next round, and then to the next, and then to the next. Before I knew it, I had been through several in-person interviews, an on-camera interview, a home video, and lots of back and forth emails - just to name the half of it. Every time I got a callback to advance further, the question, "am I REALLY going to make it to the next round?" continued through my mind. To my surprise, the answer was YES each time, and next thing I knew I was invited to LA and given the title, along with 99 others, "Top 100 Home Cooks in America."
I couldn't pass the opportunity up, so of course I went. From the beginning of December until I got to LA in January, my life was a whirlwind of preparation. I couldn't show up with the other 99 "best home cooks" without a plan and lots of practice. I cooked dishes I had never thought of cooking, and baked, and baked, and baked. Christmas was an afterthought for me in 2014; although, a lot of good cakes and pies came out of the whole deal, so our holiday spread was definitely unbeatable! And then it was time to go to LA.
I knew nothing of what was to happen. All I knew was I couldn't tell a soul (aside from family) the reason I may or may not be in contact for the next several months. I was walking into it completely blind, and I was totally ok with that - anything to take my cooking career to the next level. I was in LA for almost a week - more interviews, audition meetings, wardrobe decisions, etc. (I don't want to tell too much), but hands down, my favorite part of the week was not the process, but the people I met through it. What I found to be so fascinating and uplifting was that 100 people who were totally different from each other had so much in common, and it all dealt with the one thing we all love the very most - FOOD! I not only met the best home cooks in America, but 99 of the most interesting, fun, passionate people I've ever come across. The MasterChef experience was hands down one of the coolest, craziest, most bizarre, and most awesome experiences in my life. And some pretty cool friendships and food networking came out of it, too.
So, if you haven't figured it out yet, I didn't make the show. But you know what? I didn't need to. I know I have a future in cooking, but it's just not there. Luckily, 40 other awesome humans DID make the show, and America gets to meet them tomorrow night! Watch MasterChef Season 6 on FOX, Wednesday, May 20. This season is sure to be the best yet because it features the coolest cooks I know! Don't miss it!!