It's been not quite two days since I was “CHOPPPED”. My emotions have ranged from relief to self-loathing, disappointment and embarrassment to laughter, pride and well, it was what it was.
It is such an exciting feeling when you get that call. My assistant came into the kitchen, "Um, M, The Food Network is on the line for you?!?". My response of wait...what!?...No way. I honestly thought it was my brother, Tim, playing a prank. The Food Network really was on the other end of the line. Holy S**T! All I heard was we would like to cast you in Chopped.
The adventure began and the panic set in. Cleaning your kitchen, office and showroom....well, it really doesn't matter to the film crew...they will find a way to make your place and you look the best they can. What you should be doing is using your time thinking thru the food that you want to show off on national television that best represents YOU. Have your mise en place ready and have finished camera ready dishes - at least six ret to go....When the biopak crew arrives, be prepared. Have your hair and make-up camera ready....One piece of advice, don't tell them that you have professional hair and make- up scheduled because they want the real you and they will find a way to move their arrival time around to interfere with your efforts. This is not their first rodeo and they know what they want.
You are being given the gift of free advertising on national television and there will be reruns. Realize that. Take the opportunity seriously and most of all, do not let your life get into the way of giving this your all. My kitchen was in the height of our busy season and our baker was on maternity leave. Because I am the owner slash chief cook and bottle washer, I was not only performing my management duties but slaving in the kitchen and assuming all the pastry duties for our very busy catering company. Literally working 16 plus hours days, I was fried by the time I got to the rendezvous, a coffee shop, I was sick and I injured but there was no turning back. My mind swirling with recipes, ratios, strategies and the fear of failure as we were being escorted to the studio.
Be scared ....the throw up in your mouth kind of scared. The unknown is a friggin off-the -charts scary. The crew has seen hundreds/thousands of all levels of cooks and chefs that have come before you and will see more after you. This is one of those rare shows that can possibly live on forever. Whether you win or lose, you showed up, hopped on, held on and did the best you could in the moment. The moment when you are in shock. At least I did. My normally work day is riddled with constant questions, decisions made, guidance given and in that very moment when you open that first basket...blankness. Dear God, What have I gotten myself into? Expletive, Expletive and Expletive!!!
Agreeing to do the show was easy but showing up and getting thru was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. Reflecting, there are a f**k ton of shoulda, wouldas, and couldas... you just can't predict what you will do in the moment. Would I do it again? Absafrigginlutely!