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Friday, June 10, 2011

Bite and Booze's MasterChef Season 2 Journey

Ever since I started the whole MasterChef process people have wanted to know some things that I haven't been allowed to say.  Since we filmed in February, every contestant had to sign rather strict confidentiality agreements with FOX and the production companies to not divulge anything that happened on the show before it aired.  That being said, now that I've aired and did not receive an apron, I'm allowed to offer my commentary about a few things!

First things first, let's talk about what actually happened to me on the show.  Each chef had one hour to prepare their dish before going into the judges room where they got an additional 5 minutes to chat with the judges, finish cooking, and plate their dishes.

My hour went by really fast, but for the most part I was completely on pace.  I got my herbs chopped up and marinated the venison (recipe to come in a later blog post).  I then started working on the stuffing for the bell pepper.  All in all, things went exactly as planned.  Half an hour in I had both the venison and the bell pepper in the oven, so I turned my attention to the bourbon cream sauce.  Yes indeed, the bourbon.  While making the sauce, I most definitely did take multiple shots and flambéed some bourbon multiple times for the cameras.  After I toasted a friend and took one shot, the producers came up to me and asked if I could take another one on camera.  Of course I obliged.  Really, what were a couple shots going to do at that point?



Here is what they actually showed of me on MasterChef:

So that leaves a lot to the imagination.  I know my plate was a little sloppy, but the venison was cooked exactly how I wanted it to be!  I ended up waiting over an hour between when I finished cooking and when I went into the judges room.  A lot of people had to wait that long, but still, it seemed excessive.  Nothing I made held any kind of temperature, but the producers assured us that temperature would not be factored into the judges' decision.

The walk to the judges was even longer than it looks on TV.  It took a good stroll with that cart to get to them, and then we had to start plating our dish and talk to them simultaneously.  I introduced myself as I put the bell pepper back in the oven, put the sauce on the stove, and moved the venison to a cutting board.  Chef Gordon Ramsay told me "You look like a chef, you move like a chef, let's hope you cook like one."  I told him "Thanks Chef" and continue my prep work.  They asked me a little about my back story and why I was cooking the dish I had chosen.  I told them that it represented me on a plate because I grew up deer hunting with my dad, my Granny made my favorite cornbread stuffed bell peppers, and now, well, bourbon just made sense to use as an ingredient!  Bite and Booze, baby!

Then came the conversation that made the TV show.  What ACTUALLY happened is that Graham Elliot asked me if I had any more bourbon with me after I flambéed some.  I said yes, put the handle of Knob Creek on the counter, then asked Graham if he wanted a shot.  He replied with "No thanks, I'm driving."  Hahaha... very funny!  Then Gordon asked me if I had been drinking it, and I told him "I had a couple shots while I was cooking!"  Graham never told me anything about being scared to see what would happen next.  That comment came from a completely different clip with someone else in the kitchen.  Oh well, I guess it still made good TV!

I got rushed for time at the end as I was told my 5 minutes had expired so I just kind of threw the sauce on my plate and threw my hands up.  Graham Elliot asked me if I wanted to put the parsley that I had chopped on the plate too, and I felt a little silly.  I told them I didn't have to because time was up, but they insisted that it was my plate, so I put a little bit of parsley randomly over the top.  The time crunch certainly attributed to my lack of plating prowess.


When tasting my dish, Gordon Ramsay went first.  He and Graham Elliot both made comments about the venison looking like it had been cooked perfectly as I was cutting the chops.  The first thing he did was tear into the bell pepper and get a fork full out of the middle.  He tasted it, then promptly handed me a fork.  I tasted it for myself and knew right away it was bad news.  I said, "It needs more salt, Chef."  Chef Ramsay looked at me and claimed "It needs more everything!"  He then tasted the venison and stuck the back of his fork in some of the bourbon cream sauce and tasted that as well.  He seemed to like the venison, but as he walked away he said something along the lines of "What a shame.  The venison was nice, but the bell pepper was bland.... what a shame!"  Graham and Joe followed suit.  Their messages weren't much different other than Joe making a comment about the venison being cold.  I responded that its because I had been waiting for over an hour, but it didn't matter.  Gordon and Graham both said no and Joe didn't have to vote.  I told them thanks and turned to walk away.  After a few paces, I realized that I had forgotten my bourbon.  I turned back around, said I'm going to take this with me, grabbed the bourbon, and left the judges' room.

Despite not getting an apron MasterChef was still a great experience.  I had a blast, met some amazing people, and really had quite an enjoyable experience.  I was honored to be one of the 100 amateur chefs that they chose to go on the show.  I do have a couple regrets about my dish, but you live and you learn.  Next time I'll be ready!  Thanks for all the support from my Bite and Booze fans!

Any other questions about the show?  Post them in a comment and I'll answer what I can!!