Okay, let’s back it up. Why did I want to be on Food Network Star in the first place? Growing up I always assumed everyone wanted to be on TV -- it seemed like a standard life goal, like owning a house.
But then I realized that not everyone wants to be on TV, and most people have never even considered it. So why did I want it? Let’s see…
Food runs in my blood. I grew up in a food-obsessed family. My grandpa was a chef for the U.S. Army, my uncle is a chocolatier, my other uncle is an executive chef at a Chinese restaurant, my cousin invests in restaurants... My aunts are cooking busy-bodies, whether they're foraging for berries, dehydrating raw flax seed crackers, or wrapping enough summer rolls to feed a 50-person family reunion... My dad is kitchen polymath, experimenting with everything from smoked meats to candied chestnuts. So I grew up knowing that food was an exciting, endlessly fascinating world that could be enjoyed on different planes -- cooking, eating, foraging, selling. Once I got older, I figured out how *I* wanted to relate to food: writing, teaching, and entertaining.
A love affair with food television. Cooking shows are my type of entertainment. As a kid, I’d watch PBS icons: Julia Child, Jacques Pépin, Rick Bayless, Martin Yan, and of course the queen herself, Martha Stewart. Since my family didn’t have cable, I’d take on babysitting jobs so I could watch Food Network once the kids went to sleep. In college, my dad burned stacks of cooking show DVDs so I could watch them in my downtime. You know how kids react once they go to Disney World, after years of memorizing every Disney movie? That was me once I got on the Food Network Star set.
Next chapter of my food career. Food Whore came out two and a half years ago and now I’m searching for the next phase. I’ve never been married to food fiction. I’m mostly interested in exploring food storytelling. Maybe that’s on the page… or maybe it’s on the screen.
I saw a gap. I doubt Ghandi was thinking about competitive cooking shows, but I think his famous quote still applies. Be the change you want to see in the world. I’ve loved cooking shows forever, but I rarely see people who look like me, approach food like me, or have similar backgrounds as me. Instead of waiting for that person to come along -- why not be that person?
Multi-hyphenate idols. When you’re looking for direction, it helps to consider who you admire. For me, it’s women like Amanda Hesser (startup co-founder, cookbook and memoir author, food critic, editor), Ree Drummond (blogger, TV personality, store/cafe/hotel owner), and Martha Stewart (needs no further explanation). What do these women have in common? They could have “stayed in their lane”, but instead they chose to break free and become powerhouses on their own terms.
A secret dream. This is one of my favorite quotes ever:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure .... We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? …. Your playing small does not serve the world." - Marianne Williamson
When the casting agents called me, I thought about retreating. Oh I’d never make it past the first episode, I thought. Who will take care of the house and the puppy? Only this type of person would do that, and I’m not that.
But I realized that was my fear talking. I was making excuses for myself so I could avoid playing big and potentially falling… or potentially soaring. Once I identified this self-sabotage, I decided right then and there I’d go on the show and summon everything in my power to get as a far as possible. You only have one life, so you’ve gotta make it count!
I plan on writing more Food Network Star-related posts as we get closer to the June 10 premiere. Is there a topic you’re interested in? Let me know and I’ll do my best to make it happen!