Thank you so much to all of you who spent Thursday evening glued to your TVs watching “The Taste” on ABC, whether you were a friend or family member looking out for me or you met me for the first time on the show, I am SO GRATEFUL you tuned in! The outpouring of love and support, tweets, facebook msgs, etc, has just been out of this world and I sincerely thank you. Let’s go #teamludo !
It feels like just yesterday all thirty five of us auditioning for The Taste landed in Los Angeles. I was out of my mind excited for the opportunity to make my vegan cupcakes on TV for the infamous Anthony Bourdain and still terribly nervous about whether or not I would make a mentor’s team. I remember all of us standing at baggage claim together introducing ourselves like it was the first day of school. The air was electric and everyone seemed to have the mindset of “we made it this far, we’ve already won.” After all, we had all beat out thousands of other cooks for these 35 coveted spots and we were getting to do what we love on TV for some of the most respected celebrity chefs. This glass was definitely half full.
The couple days leading up to auditions were full of foodie talk, families visiting and maybe a couple moments of poolside lounging. So many of us had already developed friendships by the time we went up to the chopping block that it was no longer just ourselves we were sick-to-our-stomach nervous for, it was our friends! All of a sudden it wasn’t about me making it, it was about “we” making it.. Our particular group consisted of Jay Qualls, Jeff Kawakami, Greggy Soriano, Lee Knoeppel, Steve Ford and Reina Bazzi but we were all pretty friendly with eachother in general. I’ll never forget the knots in my stomach as I waited anxiously to hear who had made it before I went in to cook and how even in my complete euphoria after getting chosen by Ludo, I couldn’t really settle down till I found out that Jeff had also made it. It was the most intense and thrilling experience of my life and I couldn’t have found more amazing people to share it with.
As for the actual baking itself, well just imagine wearing heels and a dress, being in a kitchen you’ve never worked in before with equipment your not used to using and having only 60 minutes to make, cool and ice cupcakes. Not intense enough for you? Well add to that the fact that you KNOW you are making something that none of the people you are trying to impress typically like and it’s all being filmed for national TV. Yeah, I’d say it was pretty nerve racking. I’ve made vegan cupcakes countless times in the past few year but never had it been more absolutely essential for them to be perfect. I finished just in time and said a little prayer as they were taken away to the judges.
Standing on that stage in front of Ludo, Nigella, Marcus and Anthony was completely terrifying. I was doing my best to keep it together as Anthony, Marcus and even lovely Nigella tore my prized cupcakes a part and bracing myself to walk away when I heard something in Ludo’s voice. He was going to pick me, this passionate, insanely talented French chef was going to take a huge gamble and give a healthy home cook a shot! I was floating on air, literally doing everything to contain excitement and not run over and hug him! I walked off that stage with wobbly legs and a smile so big my face hurt. I had done the impossible. As my dad would say,” I brought a knife to a gun fight and I won!”. I was the only vegetarian to make the show, the only person to get picked for a vegan dish and the youngest contestant this season. I was in heaven. I still am. ☺