Not sure why I haven’t written about this sooner but maybe I was afraid I would jinx any chance I had by telling the world about it in detail. I had started writing this post back in March but saved it as a draft and kind of forgot about it, but being that Fox is airing the 1st episode of MasterChef tonight I thought it would be appropriate to write about my experience.Let me back up, back in January we traveled down to New Orleans so that I could attend an Open Casting Call for a new Fox Reality Show. The show is a Gordon Ramsay show but not in the way most of America views him. This is not going to be a Hell’s Kitchen type show (at least that is what they are advertising) with all the yelling and cussing and so on. Here is an excerpt from the official press release -
MASTERCHEF contestants will be put through their paces in a series of challenges designed to test their palate, food knowledge, passion and culinary skills both inside and outside the kitchen. As they’re whittled down, they’ll face increasing pressure, from being asked to slice and dice a truckload of onions to creating incredible gourmet dishes from boxes full of random ingredients to providing an all-American send-off meal for hundreds of U.S. Marines to catering a high-end wedding.
I initially heard about this open casting call via the Times Picayune online newssite back in December and just knew I had to try out. I debated back and forth about what I wanted to do,something with grits but a little different but still accessible. I finally settled on Bourbon Cane Syrup marinated grilled Quail over cheesy grits with sweet potatoes (two ways) and rosemary cane syrup jus with granny smith apples. I have only made quail only a handful of times so I need to practice this dish beforehand. Most of the times when I try something new it is for whatever dinner or event I am doing, I know this may sound risky but 90% of the time it works out. We had some friends over a week before the casting call for dinner to be the guinea pigs, The dish worked just like I had planned.
We drove down to Baton Rouge on Friday (it’s only an hour away from Nola) and stayed with Ann’s sister Alex. I got up about 5:30 and set up my little disposable campfire grill that I bought for $5 and grilled the quail. I also made the cheesy grits inside on the stove. Once everything was done I wrapped the ingredients separately in foil or packed in Gladware(Hey, this could work out like a TopChef promo thing) and sealed everything up in a big aluminum roasting pan with hand warmer packets sandwiched underneath. This contraption allowed me to keep the food warm for the drive in to Nola since the rules stated you could not cook on site.
We arrived in New Orleans around 8am or so and our hotel ,luckily, allowed early check in. I dropped Ann and the kids off and headed to the audition site in Uptown. When I got there it was already packed with a line around the building. I ended up waiting about two hours before I got y chance to “audition” my food. We were set up in a big room with about 9 different tables that fit two people each. There were several different judges that came by and quizzed you on your food,what inspires you and why you want to be on the show. After all the judges had quizzed me I was directed to go see somebody else and much like American Idol I received my “golden ticket”(in reality it was just a piece of paper telling me to come back on Tuesday for an on camera interview. Score
We spent the rest of the weekend enjoying New Orleans and meeting up with our friends Bridget and Blake at Slice Pizzeria in Uptown. We drove back home on Sunday and arrived in Shreveport just in time to see the Saints beat the Vikings in order to go to the Super Bowl which they ended up winning….man saying that never gets old.
I previously posted about the rest of our trip HERE
I got up early Tuesday morning and headed back down south for the 5 hour drive for my on camera audition. My time was for 1am and I wanted to be sure I was early. I think to stay awake I must have gone through at least 4 64oz Fountain Diet Cokes. I did my interview and even saw a few people that were in my group on Saturday. Here is where I might have tripped up. I don’t think I was energetic enough for a “reality” show. I answered the questions,went off on a few tangents with some stories as is my way but basically told my story about my love of food and cooking. I would hate to see playback of the tape because when I get nervous there is no telling what all I might say. I was told that the tapes would be sent back to the producers in L.A. and a decision would be made from there. I thanked them for the opportunity and I made my way back home to Shreveport. Let me tell you, driving to and from New Orleans in one day is not the most fun thing to do,especially when you are alone.
A fellow foodie blogger friend in San Francisco was trying out as well and we compared notes on how the auditions went and what to expect. At this point it was just a waiting game. I waited and waited and waited. I wondered if I had given it my best (maybe,maybe not) did I choose the right dish to showcase my talents ( I think so), did I say something stupid during the on camera interview (possibly),then my thoughts started thinking about making it on the show. You see anytime I have an opportunity that really pushes me out of my comfort zone I sometimes talk myself out of it. This was one that scared me,excited me, I knew I could do it kind of thing that I made myself follow through on. I started daydreaming about winning the whole show, what the prize would be, how would my life change,what this would mean for our family. Then the thoughts gravitated towards how would I deal with Gordon Ramsay,would I let him push my buttons and self destruct like so many who have come before me on his other shows or would I stand my ground and most likely get kicked off for being a smart ass(which I am pretty good at)? Would I be able to follow through and rise above all the other challengers with the help of all the support and positive feedback I was getting from friends and family or would I let them down miserably and be “that guy” who gets voted off the 1st day but always ends up on the reunion show at the end of the season? The questions and possibilities were limitless,is this the right thing for me, are my talents really any better than others out there,would I get the answers I wanted…….
I guess I’ll never know, I didn’t make the cut.
Chicken Fried gourmet
Michael O’Boyle is best known to the community through his highly followed blog, www.ChickenFriedGourmet.com where he shares interesting tidbits about food and the culinary arts.
Amuse of Tuna Tartare
Chilled Yellow Tomato Soup with Grilled King Crab
Beer Braised Pork with Sweet Corn Gnocchi
popcorn, onion, bbq sauce
brie, figs, toast
smoked oreo,cocoa nib,pudding, pistachio
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This is a “new to me” cut of steak that I found at Wal-Mart recently. I have heard about Hanger Steak before but had yet to see it anywhere locally. Normally I do not but steak at Wal-Mart but this store has a whole section devoted to our neighbors south of the border. In addition to this steak (which only cost me $5), you can find beef tongue, heart,tripe and cheek meat. I am pretty good at trimming meat thanks to my days at Lonestar Steakhouse many moons ago but this one was a challenge. I googled Hanger Steak and found this picture heavy tutorialthat helped me out immensely. This is my second time to trim it and prepare. The first I grilled with carne asada seasoning and made tacos, for this marinade I took some fresh rosemary from the garden, about 4 garlic cloves, a tablespoon of crushed red pepper and olive oil.
Most likely I will just grill and slice and serve with a salad.
Beer Brined Grilled Chicken with Ancho Bacon BBQ Sauce
Pickled Corn with Basil Puree and Cold Corn Soup “foam”