A few months ago, I did something crazy. I never do anything crazy. Occassionally, I'll do something exciting but never crazy. And yet, there I was, about to do my first crazy thing ever. I stood in line for four hours with three hundred other bleary-eyed individuals, all clutching their culinary masterpieces, to audition for Fox's new series, MasterChef. See, the hubster had seen the above video and said, "You talk to yourself while cooking. You should audition!" Normally, I would have scoffed at something so, well, crazy but the hubster downplayed the crazy aspect. He said all I had to do was bring a dish to present to the judges and he'd take me out for brunch after. Let's be real, I'll do anything for brunch, so there I was, freezing my tukus off in the January chill. I'd lost feeling in my fingers and I was convinced my toes would snap off when I took my boots off. Don’t even get me started on the boots. It was a horrible idea to wear boots with 3 inch heels. But then again, I didn’t know I’d be standing in line for four hours. Rumor has it that Gordon Ramsay was supposed to be less like his Hell’s Kitchen personality and more like Paula Deen’s. I’m not sure I bought it.
We finally got inside only to find the line winding all around Sur La Table (they were holding the auditions in the back room). I could hear people talking about their dishes and their culinary experience. The gentleman standing behind me pointed to a knife he recently purchased. I glance at the price tag and nearly dropped the dish holding my Thai green curry noodles. $150 for a knife?!? I decided then and there that I would avoid all conversations involving knives. I was certain these people would not be impressed with my no-brand, slightly dull not-really-a-chef's-knife knife.
The line finally wound around to the back room and I could see people setting up their dish for the judges to taste. I saw someone piping pastry cream into homemade pastry puffs and I began to feel inadequate. I was clearly out of my league surrounded by people who knew more about cooking, had better equipment and way better piping skills. The fact was, I was a home cook who liked to try new recipes. A girl’s gotta eat right? Might as well eat something delicious.
The line finally moved again and I found myself at a counter with nervous men and women all around, frantically plating their submissions. I plopped my new leather bag on the ground only to realize I had placed it smack dab in the middle of a water puddle. This was clearly a bad omen. I quickly piled my Thai green curry noodles on a plate, threw the shrimp, pepper and mushroom skewers on top, and planted a big smile on my face as a judge walked toward me. In his three second walk toward me, I scoped out my neighbors’ submissions. Butternut squash soup on my left, some sort of Italian dish on my right, and those ass-kicking chocolate cream puffs in front.
The “interview” with the judge was relatively painless. He asked me to describe my dish, asked a question about the most unique or odd item currently in my kitchen (Indian mango pickle- a smelly, but oddly comforting remnant of my mom’s last visit to Dallas), and the kind of food I liked to cook. He grabbed a fork and handed one to me. We were going to try my dish together. I guess that’s the only way he could ensure the food was relatively safe. Little did he know, I ate street food in Pakistan. I have a stomach o’ steel! He told me the shrimp was well cooked (high praise because by now, it had been sitting for a good four hours). And just like that, he was gone. I stood there looking puzzled. Should I stay? Leave? Dance? I began packing up my food and a lady approached. She handed me a green piece of paper and told me to see another lady at the desk outside. I looked down at the green paper and it was my golden ticket! I felt like I was in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, except I was the grandpa doing the awkwardly crazy dance and not Charlie, doing the cute happy dance. I gave my name to the girl at the table. She told me to come to a secret location tomorrow, and just like that, I was back into the sunlight…. Triumphant after round 1!
Next, in the MasterChef saga: MasterChef Auditions: The Squeakquel