Happy Monday Friends! Hope y’all had a fabulous weekend. As most of you know since it’s really all I could talk about, I went to my first cooking show audition this past weekend in the big apple.
I have never been more nervous for any one event in my entire life. Not my first day of college, not my wedding day, not my first day at my post-college job. Not when I board a plane. Every day last week was filled with complete and utter anxiety over what was going to happen on Saturday. I think my nerves stemmed from the fact I had NO idea what to expect.
This was my first audition for anything. Ever. Let’s just say I’ve never been one to seek out the spotlight. This chance was something I just COULDN’T turn down. I pre-applied once I found out about the show. Of course, I checked the “sending in a home video” box since the idea of traveling for an audition seemed insane. Literally 2 minutes after my application was sent, I got a call from ABC. They did a pre-interview, asking me about some of my answers on the application and inquiring about my cooking dreams and goals. Then, she personally asked me to come out to NYC for the casting call. I decided then and there I would go. I hadn’t been to NYC since I was 13 and who am I to say no to an ABC executive?
Last week I was a huge ball of nerves leading up to it. On Friday, I was so nervous I forgot half of my things (like PJ’s, a Tupperware for my soup, phone charger). But once we arrived into the city, my nerves kind of dissipated and I was in awe of the city.
Saturday morning was filled with excitement, nervousness and quite a few “holy shit” moments. I woke up early, made my soup and before I knew it, it was time to go.
We got there about 15 minutes before the start time and the line was already pretty long.
The line was filled with people from all walks of life. There were people dressed in their chef jackets, people wearing jeans and t-shirts, rompers, dresses. You name it, someone had it on. I was so lucky to be surrounded by two really great people, one who was on their second cooking show audition. The line took a while, like 3 hours, but I was happy my friend waited with me and I had two other nervous and excited cooks to go through it with. It really helped me get ready for the audition because I had a chance to open up.
Once we got into the actual audition room (they did 12 of us at once), I felt nothing but excitement. As the food expert and casting director walked by to each of the contestants, I felt more and more ready to do it. Ready to talk about why I love food and let my personality shine. I think I did great. I felt comfortable, funny, in my element. I was proud of my soup and I hoped it was enough to get me a chance to talk more.
Well, sadly, it wasn’t. And you know what? I was bummed. I’ll be honest. I felt disappointed. But it wasn’t a normal disappointment when things like this happen. I didn’t rack my brain going “why didn’t they pick me?” or “I knew I should have done more, made more.” Instead, I left inspired. I’m not lying when I say I was in a room with some of the most talented people I’ve ever met. Trained chefs, cookbook authors, naturally talented home cooks. I mean, one of the guys made Colombian tamales with a plantain crust. Another made a delicious ceviche. Another created the most delicious pie out of almonds, apples and cappuccino whipped cream. Being in a room with such talented inspired me more than I can tell you. As I walked from the hotel to Central Park, I was feeling more motivated than ever before.
This experience taught me SO much about myself and my dreams. For one, it taught me that I need to stop playing it so safe with my food. I’ll be honest, I tend to flock to dishes that seem comfortable, that seem to only slightly challenge me. I don’t try ingredients that sound too exotic or dishes that seem to hard. I play it on the safe side when it comes to my cooking and I need to shake that. I need to challenge myself every single time I’m in the kitchen. I need to use things I’ve never used, make something I’ve never made, try foods I never thought I would. Playing it safe never got anyone anywhere, and I’m ready to GO SOMEWHERE.
It also just solidified the fact that culinary school is where I’m supposed to go. This year, I’ve been seriously thinking of it. I’d say I was 92% sure culinary school was where I was headed before I entered this audition. Leaving it? I was 1000% sure it was where I’m meant to go. Food is my life. Not just the preparation of it, the eating or photographing of it either. EVERYTHING. I’m fascinated by flavors, by origins, by sizes, textures and colors. Every single thing about food excites me. As I was talking with a few recent culinary grads, their advice to me was the same.
“GO!! If you love food, go. It will change your life.”
So I’m going to get over my fear of failure, my fear of rejection and apply. I’m going to follow my dreams wherever they take me, whether that means to Paris or Hyde Park, NY or Italy. I’m going to follow every instinct I have. Because if I don’t, who will?
It also taught me something else. That I’m pretty good at this whole trying out for TV thing. That I’m good enough to be on a show. I’m not going to give up and I’m going to keep trying out for these shows b/c I think I have something completely different to bring to the table. I think I have a great personality and a fun demeanor. I think I could do great things. Food Network Star? I’m looking at you :).
I’m going to take this life of mine by the balls and continue to better myself. Isn’t that what this crazy thing called life is about anyway?