Many of you have been supporting me in my quest to be America’s Next MasterChef. With the season premier just 6 days away, I thought that I would backtrack many months… to December 4th 2010 to be exact, and tell you about how this all started.
About a week before the audtion, I get a call from California… It’s a casting producer saying that I’m invited for a “VIP Audition” I scheduled audition that will circumvent waiting in any lines. It’s for 4pm Saturday afternoon. I’m stoked! I immediately start analyzing the event in my head, does EVERYONE get a VIP appointment? Or am I special? Who Cares!
Fast forward to the night before, I drive to Dallas and have dinner with a friend. The dinner serves two purposes- first to hang out with a close friend, secondly to thank his family for letting me commandeer his kitchen to prepare my signature dish for the next day’s audition. Of course, I made a few pit stops on the way to Dallas
After several hours of prep and cooking, a new food saver, and a lot of dishes, our meal is done and the judge’s portions are packaged away for the audition.
The day of the audition I wake up early and leave the hotel to do some last minute shopping. I’m looking for silverware, a cloth napkin, and a napkin ring to give to the judges. I find some serviceable utensils and a set of cloth napkins at a local store and head back to the hotel to change and pack up.
Driving to Le Cordon Blue in Dallas where the auditions are. I arrive about half an hour early and unpack my hand truck full of equipment. Among other things, my hand truck includes a car battery, power inverter, home made immersion circulator, and blow torch. I’m surprised when I see other contestants start to show up with nothing more than a grocery bag. I joke with some of the casting team about how I like to travel light.
A group of us go in for the first round of the audition. We are told we will be given three minutes to plate our dishes (the website said five minutes… I had practiced and averaged 4:30)… This should be interesting! On your mark, get set, GO! I hastily open a vacuum sealed bag of lamb chops and start to blow torch them. “Um, You can’t cook that here” says one of the casting directors. “I can’t just torch it?” I reply… she says, “No, you’ll need to turn that off.” Good thing I had pre-seared slightly. I finish plating my dish and it comes out close to this:
This is a plate that I made at home to practice, but my audition plate is very similar (minus a bit of sear on the lamb) From Left-to-Right: Soup Spoon of Powdered Ouzo, shot glass of chilled water and lemon slice, blended Tatziki sauce, potato espuma in a filo cup, lavender and rosemary lamb cooked Sous Vide, and a burning sprig of rosemary.
The food judges (local chefs) and casting managers come by and taste tiny bites of food. They ask questions about the preparation of each component, my inspiration for food, favorite style of cooking, and personality. It is the hardest interview I’ve ever had. Many of the people in the room are eliminated and a few of us are asked to move to the next round…I WAS ONE OF THE NEXT ROUNDERS!
While we wait to speak with “The Producers” we are given a 10 question food knowledge test. I felt very good about all of my answers, but was unsure of what a cheese maker is called… do you know? “Aformage”.
We are coached by a few of the casting team to let our personalities shine when talking with the producers. We head into the room and I park my hand truck in the back. After a quick interview, we are all thanked for our time and Yasmine (one of the producers) says that’ we’ll be in touch soon… as I’m getting ready to exit, Yasmine asks me if I can stay for a few more questions.
She asks me If I’m available to come back for a video interview… Duh? YES! As we schedule the on-camera interview, I am trying to think how I can make the 4.5hr drive from Houston and get off from work. Then Yasmine asks me if I have any left overs from the food I served to the judges (We were asked what we cooked) I tell her that there is some lamb, but it’s cold. She asks for a piece and says that she LOVES meat cooked Sous Vide! I dig out a lamb chop and hand it to her. On my way out, I tell her that I would shake her hand, but that she’s got my lamb in it… so we bump fists!
A few days later, I drive back to Dallas and give a great interview. What follows next is a series of emails, phone calls, and forms to fill out…
On January 28th, I get “The Call” I’m invited to LA to cook for Gordon Ramsay!!!
I hope to be able to fill you all in on a lot more in the coming weeks. Make SURE you tune into FOX June 6th and 7th for the season premier of MasterChef to see if I get an apron!