Geek Chef

I cook, I talk, I geek

Master Chef Auditions: Round One January 25, 2010

Filed under: Food — geekchef @ 9:30 am
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Today I auditioned for a new (to the US) food show called Master Chef. I don’t know much about the show other than it is for amateur chefs, like myself, and that it will be hosted by Gordon Ramsay. The casting call website leads me to believe that this is a bit like American Idol for home chefs, with a bit more of a mentorship vibe. What my friends from the UK tell me is that it is a bit more like American Idol with a mix of Hell’s Kitchen. I’m really hoping for the former, but expecting the latter… But I am getting ahead of myself.


So today I presented my Juxtaposition Soup to the first of hopefully many judges. I served it (nervously) with a simple mixed greens salad with a vinaigrette consisting of mint, parsley, rice wine vinegar, a little lime and a hint of morel mushroom. I also made a cheesy flatbread cracker that I (and I think the judge) was lukewarm about. I’m sorry I didn’t take pictures of the meal or its presentation, but it was all I could do to keep my head from exploding. I can tell you I was really happy with how it all turned out.


The day started with me having a massive panic attack. My friend Peterson and I spent the night in a hotel in SF after going to a show in Oakland the night before. I woke him up with my hyperventilating. I was worried that I was a hack, that I had no place even auditioning.  Even worse I make it on to the show and then completely screw it all up. I was freaking out about anything that there was to freak out about. Silly, yes. But I have never done anything like this before. I love food, I think this blog is a testament to that, I’ve always been content to cook for people I love, and I have been content with the praise that I got from them. This is a completely new thing for me and I am still so freaked out.


But I made it through, thanks to Peterson. He talked me down and verbally kicked my butt into action. I’m really glad I had the meltdown before the next bit of the story, let me tell you…. When I opened the fridge to get my ingredients I prepped the night before, they were frozen solid. Yep. Frozen. The mini fridge was cranked up too high and froze everything. Thankfully there was a Whole Foods a block away and I was able to buy some new salad greens, and use their microwave to thaw the soup. I also grabbed a latte and made my way to the long line of aspiring chefs and found I was just as nervous as everyone else.


I made friends with the couple behind me in line, David O. a bouncer from San Jose and his lovely wife (sorry sweetie I can’t remember your name). They were really awesome, they shared their umbrella and some laughs and if I hadn’t been so utterly petrified I would have gotten their info so we could hang out again. I’m really hoping David made it to the next round so I can see them again.


The line itself was massive, I was number one-hundred and sixty-something out of hell-if-I-know, probably 300. We filled up the very posh alley of Maiden Lane, in front of Sur la Table, the host of the event. It was cold and drizzly, exactly what you would expect from an SF winter but everyone was in great spirits. There was a guy singing opera music across the street, and we all applauded during every break. My neighbors in line were so impressed when I pulled out my secret weapon – a flameless ration heater. I have to say, it is pretty damn cool and a really good idea.


The flameless ration heater is a little packet that comes in MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) common in the military and in camping. The science behind it is pretty simple and cool. What it is is a packet of magnesium filings and when it comes into contact with  salt water it starts to rust at a very fast rate. The oxidation process creates heat and I harnessed that process in a couple of pyrex containers to create a makeshift double boiler. Here is the breakdown if you are wondering: Mg + 2H2O → Mg(OH)2 + H2


I pulled that bad boy out just before heading into the store and I think (hope) that it heated the soup enough to surprise the judge.  I can tell you I cannot remember a time when I was more proud of myself than while I was explaining to the judge how and why this was the warmest soup he was going to taste today.


I guess he was impressed, because he booked me on a spot for round two. I’ll be back in The City on Tuesday  for interviews and the next step of this adventure. At this moment I am less nervous than I was before, but I’m sure it’s just the euphoria that is keeping the fear at bay. I’m so worried that someone outside of the people who love me will think my food is crap. Granted, I discovered quickly while preparing for this round, my food is not as good when I’m not cooking for the ones I love. But I think that just means I need to learn to use my heart in the kitchen, no matter who is on the receiving end of my meals.

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4 Responses to “Master Chef Auditions: Round One”

  1. LD Says:

    Great Job! What an awesome idea to use the ration heater – you friggin’ geek chef!

  2. Patty Says:

    May all your dreams come true, my dear Geek Chef.

  3. A chum urged me to check out this post, nice post, interesting read… keep up the good work!

  4. Edmond Blackadder Says:

    You are so rootable!


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