We arrived in DC Friday evening, the day before the open-call. It took just a little bit of patience to find the Inn we were staying at. See, we had originally planned to make it there in the daylight, in 5 1/2 hours, but that didn’t quite happen due to two horrific accidents on the way to DC where the interstate was shut down in two places, ending in a 10 1/2 hour trip……our prayers are still with the families of the victims of those accidents. Once we finally arrived, we nestled in to what would be our home for the weekend.
The Bloomingdale Inn – It was beautiful inside. If I am remembering correctly, the Innkeeper said it was previously a Black Catholic Church during the times of segregation for 40 years. I guess you could sense that…the Inn had a certain air about it…maybe you could feel the pride the Inn felt for knowing it had stood strong and sturdy for people in a time when others weren’t. We learned mid-trip that we stayed in the room the Pastor had lived in. Not sure if that was creepy or comforting…the jury’s still out on that one. However, we did have a beautiful room with a wall of windows (I love windows in case you didn’t know). It was on the third floor, and our poor thighs were burning by the time we left. *smiles* The Innkeeper could cook a mean breakfast in the morning as well. Sunday morning we had an egg bake, with Spinach, Ham, and Feta (I’m pretty sure I’m missing something, but he is supposed to be sending me a Sundays with Friends entry with his recipe. *smiles*). Speaking of the Innkeeper….we couldn’t of asked for anything more from him and his wife. They were like our parents for the weekend. The other guests were like our mysterious new friends…from the young woman in town for a job interview, the young Neuroscience Convention attendees, to the hot German Surgeon there to study with another surgeon in DC. It was an experience we will hold with us, and will certainly go back to the Bloomingdale Inn…just might stay on the first floor this time though.
On to MasterChef!
The prep work began a month earlier. Between finding the recipe I wanted to use, to testing it out multiple times in multiple ways. It truly was an adventure.
The recipe: I decided to do my Grandma’s Banana Pudding recipe. This particular Grandma passed away when I was 6 weeks old. I never got to know her, but I have been told she had red hair as well. Through the years, I remember seeing a few pictures, but that was it. Growing up though, I knew that Mom always made her Banana Pudding recipe. In the end, it is the only thing I have of hers. It’s very true folks, generations can be connected through a recipe, even if you never got to know them.
After many Vanilla Wafer recipes, and Mom finding the perfect one (thank you, Mom!), the building process began. I figured out the dish, the order of the layers that packed the most punch of perfection, and began to relax, feeling that my long-gone Grandma would be right there along my side through the journey as well.
Saturday morning at the Inn, I stumbled down the three flights of stairs around 5am, and assembled my Banana Pudding. (I chose the Inn because they were gracious enough to let me use their oven. I knew an impersonal hotel wouldn’t be able to offer me oven-use.) I browned my perfect meringue, and headed out the door with the hub to the open-call site.
We arrived about 6:45am. I was 28th in line. After meeting a few very nice people, it was time to get started. We assembled around a flagpole at first for Chef Gordon Ramsay to come out and do an opening shot that will be aired in the beginning of the first five or six episodes. He says “Washington, D.C.”, and we all scream and waive our hands in the air. Yes, I will at least be shown in an aerial pan of the crowd of a few hundred. Shouldn’t be too hard to pick out. *smiles*
After that, the first 40 of us were ushered into the “Tasting Area”…basically a gymnasium with a divider up, and tables set up for us to place our dishes on. We had two minutes to plate our food, and two blue taped lines to keep our food in-between while plating. Luckily for us, Chef Ramsay was able to walk around and look at all of our group’s food before he headed out. He wasn’t allowed to taste anything though…that was left for a taster to do.
First off, Chef Ramsay is sooooooo very kind and genuine. He spoke to each of us, spent a couple of minutes with each, and moved on to the next one. When he got to myself, he said (I kid you not….) “You’re meringue is very beautiful”!!!!!! Ha! He could have said something negative, and I would have still been in Foodie heaven because he spoke to me, and about one of my dishes. *huge smiles*
We exchanged a few more words, and he went on to the next, and he eventually left. Sidenote: He is just a stunning specimen in person…. *smiles* Next, a “mysterious” taster came around to each of us. A few words I remember hearing him say to others…”Next time, you need to have your pan hotter before searing your tuna.”, “Why didn’t you make your own mayonnaise???”, “Should I be able to scrape this off?”. First off, the mayonnaise companies have this mayonnaise thing downpat…why would I make my own? *smiles* He got to me, tasted the Banana Pudding, and said “Wow”. I replied with an “I hope that’s a good wow.” He said “It’s very sweet, but very appetizing.” A few more words were exchanged, he jotted a few notes, and there was nothing negative said. I did try to ask him about who he was, but he didn’t answer those questions…“Mysterious.” Maybe we will find out who the mysterious taster with gauges in his ears was one day.
The next order of business was another person coming by your spot to ask you a few questions. Unfortunately, I was the last one, and by the time she got to me, she had been told to hurry up. So, instead of asking me back and forth questions, I got the basic questions about ever being on television, and then “1 minutes to sell myself”. I tend to find it hard to let my full personality shine when not being asked questions. So, this may have been my Achilles heel, but it should have been the best part. *smiles*
If they want to talk to you further, they call your name in the end. My name wasn’t called, so I was shown the way out with the others. Only about 4 names were called from our little group. But, when we walked out…it was obvious the line had grown, and the crew were going to be there all day long.
It was a fantastic experience, and there is a lot that can be said for attempting to follow one’s dreams. It’s not about the no that I received. It’s about the fact that I tried. That I believe in myself enough now to put myself out there. It’s also about the beautiful people you meet along the journey. I know two of the wonderful women I met have already subscribed to the blog, and quite possibly are reading this now….To you lovely ladies: Thanks for making my experience even better by being there! I wish you all the luck in your future endeavors! Don’t you wish we could see what they jotted down on our papers???
To everyone out there that is afraid to follow your dreams….Get out there and do something to make it a reality! Life is too short to be afraid, and it is never too late. Break out of that comfort zone…it’s getting too stuffy there anyhow.
Here are a few shots I took during the trip. Please excuse the poor cell phone quality pictures…