A month ago, I filled out an application to be on Next Food Network Star (NFS). I went to the try-outs and was given my “call-back notice.” I think I survived the first round because compared to all the clowns, I may have looked the most normal. So I get the email with the call-back instructions. It says, “Bring in a dish that personifies you” and “Teach us a food technique in 3 minutes without any heat. You will have to bring all your ingredients and supplies.” Show up at the Austin Hyatt at 3:15. Whoa! Talk about panic. Like somebody other than my mom thinks I can cook.
Over the last month, in addition to working my 9-5 job and renovating a house, I was preparing for NFS. After much facebook debate and a few personal emails exchanges with people I trust, I decided that the dish that personifies me the best was the inside-out mozzarella meatball encrusted in chorizo, served with a San Marzano and basil sauce over Buccatini pasta. Try saying that 3 times quickly. Then, I decided that I was going to teach people how to roll the perfect Vietnamese Summer roll.
So I arrive at my host house in Austin (remember that my house is still be renovated and I have no kitchen). The Moore family are the most gracious hosts and I am so grateful! Between Friday and Sunday, we cooked every day, and we literally needed every moment to put this meal together. So on went the finishing touches, and I had recruited my friend Dan to help, and we careful drove downtown to the Hyatt.
Arriving 30 minutes early, I sat outside the room and reviewed my script for the hundredth time. I heard a lot of laughter going on in the room, and I was thinking, “oh man, I am in trouble.” The clock ticked down and the door opened. First I have to caveat this by saying the following 3 points about the judges. A. They were the three most beautiful girls I have ever seen. B. They were also very flirty thereby making it very hard to concentrate C. Well crap thinking about them right now made me forget the third point. But you get what I am working with here.
After getting mic’d up, came some headshots, full body shots (got mad props for the cowboy boots). They asked me to dance on camera. Yes…dance on camera. No music…just dance. I did the most ridiculous combination of sprinkler head, scuba diver-grocery cart moves in my life. Then they wanted to film me reacting to a joke. “What did the egg say to the hot water? How do you expect me to get hard, I just got laid.” Okay well see previous note about hot girls and now tell jokes.
Then came a chair interview…I felt like I was sitting on Oprah’s couch. I liked that they were not stock questions that they asked everybody. Their questions tended to follow-up on what you just said. What is your culinary style? (Gourmet Comfort) What is your point of view? (Cooking for Dating People) When did you start cooking? (3rd grade) Why would you be a good contestant on NFS? (I used the 211 degree analogy) Do you worry that you are competing against Executive Chefs? (No because I am the common person and not everybody in America is an Executive Chef) What is your favorite dish? (Salsa, but the it came out that it is nicknamed get laid salsa) If you were the dating chef, what would you make me if I came over other than the salsa? (I MEAN REALLY?!?! THIS GIRL IS EFFING WITH ME) Throughout the process we laughed and one of them snorted.
Then I presented the my meatballs. One of the girls said, “Forget the salsa, this would do it!” I then did the summer rolls and then we were complete.
So, they gave me a quiz after the show on culinary knowledge. I won’t share any of the questions otherwise I may give the competition an unfair advantage. And I have a bit of stuff I have to submit to them like original recipes, another film session etc. I then wait until October to see if I make the next round.
I am really proud of myself for going through the process. Even if I don’t make it much further, I have learned a lot. I challenged myself with something I am uncomfortable doing. And I love that about this process.