A lot of people who watch the show look at me and think I am funny and relatable. Alternately, so many find me to be ditsy and talentless. If you know me, reserved and shy are pretty much the last words that would ever be used to describe me. I am outgoing, always speak my mind; and although sometimes awkward, never speechless.
We are now in the last leg of Food Network Star. I am the last girl standing. We just did Beat Bobby Flay week, and somehow I survived. To be completely honest with you, I am in as much shock as you are. When David went home (hell, even when Cao went home), I thought it probably should have been me. Listen, I know that I cook well, very well. And I know I have an engaging personality, although it is not always highlighted on the show. But I will also be the very first person to tell you I messed up, it was not good enough, I am not good enough, someone else is better, I could have done better. I do not know if it is a defense mechanism that triggers my self deprecating humor and tendencies. Was it something in my childhood? Do I just like the sound of my own voice? Who knows. But whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes. the Grinch stood there on Food Network Star constantly criticizing himself a lot. Oh wait, is that not how it goes?
So as you watch me running around calling myself a hot mess, it is because I want to point it out before you do. If I ran around with more confidence, maybe you wouldn't notice. If I said I am the best then maybe you would see it too. Maybe not though, and you would write me off as entirely delusional. (It is probably the latter.) The honest truth is I know I have something special. But when I walked on that stage at the Orpheum Theater the first day and listened to everyone's culinary pedigree, I shrunk back inside myself a little. I mean I am "just a stay at home mom". Put me next to Joe Bob and I am a bad ass. I cook great food, my house is always immaculate, my children and husband are beautiful, I am not that bad either, I paint (well), decorate (well), say clever things and generally appear to have it together. But do I have what it takes to win this show? Can I outlast these other people? The truth was my going in thought was no, But I (profanity beginning with the 6th letter of the alphabet) gave it my all. I sure as shit tried. Sure, I was pointing out every slip up and flub along the way. But I didn't NOT try.
There were so many times Giada and Bobby told me to be more confident. I mean, they kept me around for a reason. Maybe there was something they saw that they liked in me, flaws and all. Hell, it may have been simply to fill the amateur chef, semi attractive 30 year old woman demographic. I am not in charge of these decisions. But they kept me for a reason. So resent my longevity if you must. But don't expect me to throw in the towel because you, or even I, don't think I deserve to be there. Each time I was advanced was another opportunity to try to get it right. You have to remember that this is quite literally the first time I haven't done any of the things that the show required of me. Okay, it is a cooking show, and clearly (hopefully) I have cooked before. I have used a stove, an oven, chopped and seasoned things. And even though you can't tell from watching Food Network Star, I have even used a food processor before. But demo, live presenting, timed cooking, occasionally asinine challenges, being held in a small room on "hard ice" then presenting to the guillotine style bright lights and one shot only high stakes presentations... brand spanking new. Tell me that wouldn't cause you to stumble occasionally. Seriously, tell me. Because it is significantly more difficult than it looks. True story.
I used to be an elementary school teacher, and one of the things that was constantly reinforced during my college education was that you never teach a new concept and a new way of learning it at the same time. For example, if you are teaching kids multiplication, do not introduce multiplication at the same time you introduce a new learning strategy. Hey class, here is multiplication AND I am going to teach you a brand new learning game to go with it. No! The mind does not do well trying to apply both at the same time. Sure, those are children, and we are adults. But Food Network Star is difficult. I promise you, no matter who your favorite on the show is (minus Jason, he practically never slipped up), there were more mistakes than the ones which made it to the television in your living room or the streaming app on your phone. Hell, there were times they made me look way better than I should, the reverse is also true.
There are 4 episodes left in season 13 of Food Network Star. How many more am I in? You know I cannot tell you that. Love me or hate me, I am basically you... unless you happen to be a celebrity chef (and I doubt you would be reading this blog anyway).
Through out this season people have seen me excel and kick the Food Network Kitchen's ass. And you have seen me F up and shy away.
I am a military spouse whose husband has known what he has wanted to do since he was 6 and did everything within his power to pursue it. I am a girl who lived a self indulgent few years from 19-23 until I got married after knowing a boy from Texas for 5 months (almost 10 years together now). Someone who wanted to pursue a career in so many things (mainly artistic) that it was virtually impossible to narrow it down. Back to marriage, finished my degree post wedding just to have one. Had a job as a teacher. Moved to 3 states and 4 homes with in the first 4 years of marriage and moved to 3 more times after that. I had 2 surprise pregnancies. Both resulted in amazing blessings that I wouldn't exchange for anything. The second surprise came right as I was about to start my masters (derailed). A loving husband who is gone with a frequency that is occasionally alarming, and sometimes manageable as a military spouse. Two kids, not a lot of time to pursue a job. But I always worked in restaurants and had a love of cooking. Heck, my cooking is most likely one of the reasons my husband fell in love with me. It was always a passion. But it was a talent that developed over the years, slowly in waves and lulls. Heck, I move a lot, lets start a food blog. Okay great. Wix? Sure. Take my own photos, amateur status on my camera phone? Yup, still do, Apply to Food Network Star a few times. What, they actually called me back? I made it through the interview process. Can I come out for filming? Yes! Standing next to really talented people who do this for a living, successfully. There's Bobby and Giada...
So if it seems like I am a scatter brained girl with no culinary background, that is probably because I am. But I have a serious love of cooking. It is a bug. I love creating. (Painting is a semi lost passion of mine. I am still good at it, just so little time in my life.) And food is such a universal way of bringing people together. Anyone who loves cooking will tell you that. As the years went by, I got better at it, taught myself new things, my love for it grew. I was good, really good. And I like being good at things. I am kind of a perfectionist. Super type A. Not as type A as the hubs, but it has only gotten worse as I have aged. Yes aged. I am a puppy at 33. But I never used to need this level of controlling perfection in my life. Anyway, love cooking. Am I destined to be the next Food Network Star? Time will tell. But damn people, it wasn't the worst entrance into the culinary world on a national level... at least not for someone like me.