Thank You For Being A Part Of The Journey
It's Okay To Be #5!
My MasterChef Journey has come to an end and although I may not be America’s next MasterChef I will work every day to become America’s next MasterDad!
What began at a family dinner where my brother in law said to me, "Jeff, all you need to do is show up in Orlando. I did all of your paperwork because I believe in you. I signed you up for MasterChef." It was in that moment that life changed for me. After many months of paperwork and processes, I embarked on becoming a contestant on season 8 of MasterChef on FOX placing myself at the title of being the 5th best amateur home cook in all of America for the competition. It was an incredible journey that I am forever humbled and changed from such a wonderful experience. I certainly had some high points and some low points along this journey but I would like to say thank you to anyone who believed in me through the entire process. Being a part of this show was not easy and the viewer will never know how hard it is; emotionally & physically to be in that environment especially when real life impacts reality life. My son was just born and here I am with a 2-month-old flying out for the first time to California living there for over 2 months to have a once in a lifetime chance that impacted so many people and none other than my beautiful fiancé, Beth.
To my wife to be Beth, they say to every great man there is an even greater woman but I cannot even say I am great when I am next to you because you exceed me in any attempt I may at being even good. I am forever indebted to you for sacrificing your body to birth Holden, to sacrifice you career while putting it on hold to raise our son, to selflessly give 100% of your time to be mom & dad all while dealing with the adjustments of becoming a new mother was immeasurable and certainly not overlooked. I love you more and more each day and am forever blessed to have you in my life. You bring out the qualities in a partner that make it feel like it will be alright no matter what. That to be a team, you need to stand together and be supportive for one another, idealogies you embody to your core. You do so many things that I value in you and admire as I try to emulate those traits to be the best man for you and our family. I challenge men reading this to appreciate your significant other and to realize what they do for us. It is beautiful and inspiring, please thank them!
Beth, I love you & thank you!
To my son Holden, one day when you read this I want you to know how special it is to have you in my life. You have forever changed me. When I was out in California there was not a moment that went by that I did not think of you. You have made me believe in my abilities to be a good dad for you in the hope to inspire you to live out any and every dream you may have in your life. I will support you in every endeavor your heart desires. You have made me learn what love is. To truly love someone right at the moment of first seeing them. You have allowed me to be calm, cool, and collected while doing that consistently. I treasure every moment with you and from the deep reflection of being out there for filming it prepared me to be the best dad I can be for you. I will never stop and will work even harder as you grow from child to youth to adult. I will be there with you every step of the way because a dad to you is the greatest title I could have associated with my name.
Holden, I love you & thank you!
To my family,
Without the love & support of my family I would never have been able to get to this point as it all started by watching Julia Child with my mother as a kid to having a pizza cook off with my dad to enjoying the creation of recipes with my sisters and of course my brother in law who signed me up. Food and family just go together; it’s about tradition, heritage, and generations coming together around a family moment. We were fortunate as kids to eat out quite a lot so I was exposed to cultures and flavors that have been woven into my culinary DNA that have prepared me to pass that love and appreciation of family time and food down to my son. Also, kudos to Beth’s family as they became an extension of ours acting as a second set of hands and companionship for Beth & Holden while I was away when she stayed with them in Buffalo after I left for California.
Family, I love you & thank you!
To my friends,
The support of kind words and encouragement has been incredible with new friends coming into the conversation and a growing inner circle coupled with old dear ones. I have a great support group that has believed in me in anything I have done and some have even supported my goals with assisting me in my pursuits for a living out a dream that they had integral parts in. “Blood doesn’t make a family, love does” is a quote I share with my best friends’ family because they are like that to me and have been since the 3rd grade but in this instance that statement can be shared with others too because of the impact they continue to have. From dinner parties to tastings to words of encouragement to support through their craft and abilities, it has allowed me the chance to flourish and to always live for fun! From the words of my favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends!”
Friends, I love you & thank you!
When I approached my fellow leadership team about this opportunity so soon into me joining the company, my boss and owner of the company who has now become a mentor said, “Jeff, you have two mantras in your life you have told me. One, you don’t like letting people down and two, you don’t like to regret. So, Jeff I would be letting you down if you didn’t do this and I would regret that.” In that moment, it presented to me what leadership is. It is a feeling to empower those around you without any inkling of selfishness or greed but appreciation and the burning desire for something bigger in those around you. I have a great team I work with; from our business development, support personnel, field crews, and fellow leadership team. Every week they took time out of their hectic schedules and watched the show with their families, some never even knowing the show existed and for others really not liking watching TV shows but watching it for me. They encouraged me along the way of the season and starting every Thursday from passing in the hallways to being in a meeting or leaving the parking lot recap the previous night’s episode genuinely highlighting the spirit of what a true team is to belong to.
Helicon, I love you & thank you!
What an integral role so many people play in this; from casting to showrunner, from wardrobe to make up, from camera operators to editing, from culinary to writers, from judges to producers, from transportation to logistics, from wranglers to security, from media to buyers, from medical to network, from production to everyone else in between; there are so many individuals that play a large part in the final product and have a very important role within the process making their careers about this to be in the entertainment world. Everyone was professional in the name of reality TV and contributed to my successes and participation.
Production, I love you & thank you!
To my fellow competitors, I applaud each and every one of you for challenging and pushing me. I have nothing but respect and admiration for all of you. All be it, we may have butted heads in situations and of course the magic of reality TV may show a different side of the story for the sake of storyline and ratings, I believe all of it allowed us the chance to grow more together as a unit. We all came from different backgrounds and areas across the United States and we are forever tied to one another. I wish nothing but the very best for all of you in the pursuit of your culinary dreams. We pushed each other to be better in the competition but more importantly in life with a bond that will never break. Continued success to all!
Cast, I love you & thank you!
To the viewer,
Truth, I never watched the show before going onto it. I watched a total of 3 episodes in preparation after production said they would fly me to Los Angeles to start production on season 8. What I have learned is the MasterChef insignia is a lot more than just the apron that contestant wears because for some it is a release from their lives to enjoy their day finding solace in a place of relaxation to be entertained. Some have been tremendous supporters of the MasterChef brand and for me personally, as I truly appreciate all consideration while others have shown me the true nature of human behavior and the role social media and hiding behind a screen has. I have enjoyed being able to entertain you with good food, good narrative, and high energy every week never shying from giving 110% and wearing every ounce of that passion on my sleeve each week so thank you for letting me into your homes or you coming to a watch party coupled with the amount of positivity you in turn have shown me. At the end of the day, I am a human being just like you and everyone else so sure, I was a major part of the storyline for what was shown to the viewer but I am still human so to showcase the dangers of online bullying as this idiocrasy to illicit such reaction from some was enlightening and all too real as a young dad. There is too much negativity in our world by a bunch of internet loser like trolls as I have leveraged your lowness to create a higher standard for how I will raise my son and to challenge others to interact in the digital space.
Viewer, I love you & thank you!
To my city,
Several years ago, I was acknowledged by the Tampa Bay Business Journal as the Top 30 Young Professional Under the Age of 30 - Up & Comer. Up & Comer. Not Up & Came. Not, like the movie business where one year you make an Oscar film and then next year you are onto the next worthy motion picture. Up & Comer. I challenge myself everyday as a millennial, young professional to always keep moving and inspire others. Millennials sometimes get a bad rap in that they are very aspirational but never proactive, then go do it! You want to make the world better, then go do it! You want to affect change, then go do it! Throughout this journey it was never about the self-gain for me but how I could be a vessel to communicate to the rest of the world how great of a city, Tampa is. To champion our growing foodie scene and to some taking the title of unofficial spokesperson that I proudly accept to highlight the real chefs and restaurateurs in our community with pride and excitement. Every week, with the incredible team at Fodder & Shine we hosted a MasterChef watch party supporting a local charity impacting the following organizations: Apple A Day, Feeding Tampa Bay, Metropolitan Ministries, The Spring of Tampa Bay, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay, The Children’s Dream Fund, Friends of Joshua House, Success 4 Kids & Families, Humane Society of Tampa Bay, Meals on Wheels of Tampa, Wheelchairs 4 Kids, Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Jackson in Action 83 Foundation, Habitat for Humanity of Texas (with the combined support from Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County & Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County), KidVestment all of whom I have pledged my continued support to engage me as I am proud to have shared their mission with the public for awareness and financial support raising thousands of dollars collectively to make an impact to these incredible organizations who really perform miracles for others. To have local businesses come together inspired by this action and donate their goods and services for the watch parties showed the goodness in humanity that a capitalistic society can provide! These watch parties were the single greatest highlight of this MasterChef journey to bring people together with the intent of using this platform for good and to truly help others. This incredible opportunity allowed me to namedrop Tampa more than any other city on this seasons’ show. No city was recognized in name more than Tampa and I am proud to have represented the city and for my voice to have said, “this is my city on a plate” and the judges who are culinary giants applaud and enjoy that dish was extremely gratifying! I will never forget the first watch party as I entered the Publix on Florida Ave. getting Holden baby food before the episode was released and for a gentleman that I have never met nor could recognize him today approach me and say, “Good luck tonight on MasterChef. We’re all rooting for you!” The kind gesture afforded to me from our local media partners (Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Bay Business Journal, 102.5 the Bone, Fox13, Daytime, several sporting teams & their events, community gatherings, online bloggers, and reality TV sites) allowed me to connect with this city & the world and for them to rally around one of their own. The support from a government level was inspiring as I embark on taking a larger role within my community to champion this area for even greater days to come. My father taught me and continues to teach me, “Jeff, when you give, you receive”, I now know what that means!
Tampa, I love you & thank you!
To anyone who has a dream, then go do it, and make it a reality because this MasterChef journey may have ended, but my next adventure is just the beginning!
Chef Jeff Philbin
MasterChef Top 5, Season 8