#MasterChef Memoirs Pt.6: Gameday!

If you’d like a spoiler, watch this video… if you’re reading this, you’ve probably already seen the episode. Thanks for all of your support and I hope you enjoy reading my behind the scenes perspective.


The 19 finalists cooking today get microphones and some of us are given our coolers of ingredients. We are held outside of the set doors for about an hour, we walk in with the standard random cheering. After a quick briefing, the judges walk in…and we shoot a few sequences. A little later my family comes on set! Yea! So great to see them, but I must stay focused…before long it’s my turn to cook.

No aprons given out so far, are they having all the losers cook on day 1 to save the hotel rate? Will I be the first apron? I am fifth to cook on day one. Of the four people who start before me, two have cut themselves…no pressure.

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Once I get placed at my station and the Associate Director starts my clock I am in the zone…rapidly unpacking, I drop my cocktail shaker, I have to remind myself- slow is smooth and smooth is fast. The first time I cut with the Global knives provided, I can see why people have cut themselves. These things are like scalpels! Cooking in the MC kitchen is a dream! It’s like making dinner IN Williams Sonoma…every piece of equipment you could want…times 6! need another strainer? Yell out “Culinary” and someone will bring one right out! The rest of my hour goes smoothly- time management is spot on. I get my cart loaded with a bit of time to spare…

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Walking through the MasterChef doors is an indescribable feeling. As the “M” logo separates, an overwhelming feeling of “shit just got real” hits me like a prize fighter. My heart is racing. After what seems like the longest 20 yards in the world, I make a hard right and I’m about 30 feet away from the plating station, 50 feet from the judges.

Half way to the station I say, “Good morning gentlemen”. The judges are silent… Joe Bastianich looks at his watch (IWC, nice). Crap, is he grumpy? Has he had a bad morning? I get to the plating station and feverishly start to plate and explain my dish.

Chef Ramsay stops me — “1st, what’s your name?” “What do you do?” I answer as I continue to plate. Gordon calls “two minutes left…” I vent the N20 from the foam canister (for the cocktail infusion) and strain my fresno chili vodka into my shaker. As I start to shake it, there is liquid spilling…CRAP! I broke the bottom of the plastic cup when I was muddling the pineapple…semi-frantically, I recover, pour the cocktail and finish plating.

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After a barrage of questions, I convince them of my “traditional” cooking abilities as well as “molecular” skills*.

Now the judging: Joe, after literally destroying my wonton cup with his fork, says, “Absolutely yes, restaurant quality”

Chef Elliot is next, he says “You just saved me a ton of money in airfare because with that dish, I’m back in Hawaii -Yes!”

Chef Ramsay is last, and gives a long speech about me being on “the knife’s edge”…too much technology mixed with incredible creativity, doesn’t add up with being a retail manager…finally he gives me my third yes!”

I jump around like crazy and eventually make it up to their riser to shake their hands and collect my MasterChef Apron! One thing that I had forgotten about is that Chef Ramsay apparently called me a “Freak Genius…” I guess I was caught up in the moment but after the episode aired, I got about 20 posts on my facebook wall saying “Congratulations you freak genius…”

Joe says I need a nickname, and offers up “The Big Khahuna” does he think I’m Hawaiian!? I’ve never even been there! Surely the producers must have brought him up to speed on my profile? I don’t argue with him…

Right before I head out of the judges room Chef Ramsay says to me, “There’s no way you can be THAT creative and not be in this industry…” Perhaps a defining moment of my culinary career. WOW.

I take my apron, and head back out…as the doors open, the other finalists are cheering, and Matt Koon (my mom’s now fiancée) and I chest bump. I also chest bump my mom and nearly knock her over… I guess I got a little too excited:) I give my mom a big hug and tell her quietly, “3 yeses! They loved it! All three of them loved it…”

THREE YES’s…it’s a start…

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Thank you to all that have supported me this far and those that will continue supporting me going forward. For more cooking content, photos, videos, and fun you can also follow me on Twitter #teamalvin! and visit my Facebook Fan Site.

I’ll also be featured on Houston’s FOX 26 morning news preparing a new signature dish at around 8:30am… tune in to see what freak genius concoction I create!

Join me Monday evening (and during every episode) at SWAYE Bar (3730 Washington Avenue, 77007) for the official Houston Viewing Party… New signature menu items every week and great drink sepcials. Come chat and enjoy the show!

Until Next week, I leave you with this video of Chef Ramsay… Tune into FOX to see what happens next! Check your local listings for details.

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