Thursday, August 12, 2010
MasterChef: The Last Chapter
Previously, in the MasterChef saga: MasterChef: After The Final Apron
And so it ended, not with a bang but a whimper. I was the last person eliminated before the final 14. When I was asked to turn my apron in, the only people looking on were winners- people who would go on competing, learn new cooking techniques, meet famous chefs, and have a chance to write their own cookbook.
And yet, as I walked out of the best kitchen I'd ever set food in, I was kinda relieved. Don't get me wrong- at the actual moment Chef Ramsay asked me turn my apron in, I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach. There are pictures to prove it. But as soon as I walked out, I felt strangely calm. When asked what I would do with my life now that I had been eliminated, I gave them a puzzled look and said, "Go back to being an attorney," in my standard, matter of fact way.
And that's exactly what I did. Because that's what was expected of me, and really, what I expected of myself. See, I didn't grow up in a house where cooking was venerated. My mom cooked and she was a great cook. But that was almost expected. In almost every immigrant family I knew, the mom cooked and she was a great cook. When I told my parents I was doing the competition, they were flabbergasted. They couldn't comprehend that they had sacrificed everything to give me a better life and I was jeopardizing that to try to be a chef.
And truth be told, neither could I. On the show, I was surrounded by people who were truly passionate about cooking. They could poach an egg in their sleep, top it with wine-braised mushrooms, and never dream about over-scrambling it. They quit their jobs, dropped out of school, and otherwise changed the way they lived to prepare for this experience. I, on the other hand, happened to be a decent cook who continued to live my life like this was no big deal. Even the morning before I flew out to LA, I was at work at 6:00 a.m., emailing clients, and leaving instructions for my absence. So it wasn't all that surprising that I wasn't chosen as one of the fourteen best home cooks in America. At that time, I didn't deserve to be.
Enough time has passed that I'm no longer sad. More, nostalgic. A lot of truly great things have come about as a result of MasterChef. The experience inspired me to roast my first chicken, led to my first official catering gig and spurred me to document my cooking adventures on this blog. Heck, I even got to cook on the local Fox morning news. I've made new friends and surprised the people at work by actually having a hobby that does not consist of litigation. Most importantly, I realized I'm not ok with just being a decent cook. I want to work to be an awesome cook. Maybe even a master chef, someday. And that realization may be worth being the last person eliminated.
PS: Today is the last day to enter my giveaway! What are you waiting for?