STAY TUNED FOR THE OFFICIAL CHEF JEFF COOKBOOK WITH MORE OF THE JOURNEY
Sometimes life doesn't always let you be in charge as much as we as a human species want to be.
Life sometimes dictates for you the series of events that happen. This whole week I've been worrying about Beth knowing that cancer is in the back of her head. After learning during Holden's pregnancy, testing found pre-cancerous cells on her cervix and finding out about these cells some five months ago we had to put off our talks about it for sometime.
We focused our attention on Holden’s health and well-being for knowing that we were not out of the woods and would need to come back to it at some time. Well that time is now. After more tests and doctors appointments a biopsy was done two weeks ago and today Beth learned her fate. The cancer cell counts came back low. We dodged a short term bullet. She scored a two out of four and was able to go from a potentially scary moment for another year. My heart aches for her because all I want to do was hug her tight tonight, to caress her hair, and share in a momentarily sigh of relief that everything will be OK.
Beth is the greatest woman in the world and I cannot think of living without her. I couldn't of found a greater mother for Holden and it is so bittersweet that I have to celebrate good news so far away. I was so grateful the produced allowed me the time to hear her voice and to tell her I love her! I will never take those words for granted because life is so precious and we are so tiny in it. We have no control of life at times but situation dictates for us how we can get through life and try to gain control. For Beth, she can control fear. For me, today peace.
Through this peace through war was on the horizon and it was in the kitchen! Today was the team challenge and I was the captain of both teams in front of all the bigwigs did Robin the show runner make me captain of the blue team and pick a team. My team couldn’t have been more of the best led group from the feel of my favorites and they could have turned the cards on me to release me was a captain but through it all my leadership skills were never called into question.
I impressed the judges with my calm, cool, collected attitude and ability to scout talent as my responses for picking Taylor, a past contestant it was a great answer and was said aloud. Eventually the other team had the chance to steal a person so they chose me and still had me as a captain pick by the producers so to work we went. Our team assembled got it together and I want it! We talked communication, tactics and had fun! We came up with shrimp and grits dish that we had 45 minutes rather than 30 minutes we would've nailed! I was impressed by the team as we gelled together and found each other's parts to make a greater dish. With spicy shrimp cooked in bacon fat, garlic and added cajun sausage. White and sharp cheddar cheeses with a little crème fraîche an incredible New Orleans white barbecue sauce that the colors and flavors looked great!
Everything was on point and best of all the bigwigs pointed their eyes up to watch. Our teams did it big! This was a battle to the end and wow what fun! In the midst of the excitement and great food does the back of my mind wonder how long my journey will take me. Am I the next MasterChef? Did my leadership abilities and team skills find abilities giving me enough to really stand out in an already crowded field? Tomorrow at the hotel the field will be cut in half but for now do I get to control my night in pure joy!
For the past several days in room 435 has and will become more of a home for me. I'm living out of a suitcase and taking advantage of the free body wash bottles housekeeping keep for me. I appreciate the staff here at the Marriott Woodland Hills; even with all of us they still keep the beds made, towels fresh, and free stuff flowing. It can be expensive here so with my per diem did we al make our first Target run. I stocked up on do it yourself sandwich fixings, healthy snacks, and unsweet iced tea. I figure this will help me keep costs down and at this point maybe even ahead with my costs back home. I want to make sure financially speaking Beth and Holden have enough money to support themselves while I am out here. Wow! Do I miss them right now! Not a moment goes by that I have not thought about them.
Today was my interview and they had me in my teal J.Crew pants and short sleeve Aloha button up shirt. I had make up done and I'm ready to party. I met with Patrick & Bradford who worked 45 minutes with me on my interview. I entered the room with the pantry behind me that I have seen on TV before and had an out-of-the-box experience. This is so real for me! Here I am one of 80 people in the entire United States vying for this incredible title with letting all of America see a taste of me and I want to have to bring in the MasterChef kitchen! I open up telling the world everything about Beth and Holden without naming them but showing how proud and excited I am to do all of this for them. That I am driven to win and want this really bad! But at the same time there are consequences. I can be gone longer from them and is that worth it for my journey?
At this point I am hoping for winning it all but if I had to settle for next option, I would choose Friday. I would hate to go through the whole process and put Beth and Holden through so much for me being away that I didn't win. So is it easier for me to concede on Friday and keep myself out of the first round of cuts or should I keep pressing on now that the producers ok'd my story change from Trumbull to Tampa where it should never have been a question…Tampa all the way! Will my adopted & beloved city route for me?
I'm growing tired and eager in my pursuit to be the MasterChef Champion so I have to keep believing in my abilities and the support from those around me to make this happen to be more than who I am! I hope to talk to my family from Beth and Holden this week because that is what will help me through my decision and support for the progression of this experience. I know I have a lot to offer but without both on board, can I do it? Tomorrow she finds out about everything from the doctor's so I am chomping at the bit to see what I I can do for her and how she may need me, being away has made me think less of myself and more about her and Holden so I want to do right for them!
Did I do enough?
Today was my first day in the MasterChef kitchen which was nuts!
I'm getting a tour of the kitchen by their team showing all the toys in ingredients I can play with right now! The bus ride was short and from a group of 10 getting scattered in and out to set it was surreal! Upon arrival to the set we hung out in the green room which was my first taste of a green room. It was cool! Edison lights from the ceiling, chalkboard paint walls, and snacks galore!
From there, the kitchen awaited me; after the tour we had 60 minutes to preparer any dish we wanted. I could have played it safe but I didn’t. I mean I made it here for a reason that I said "let me push myself" and I did. I was in the front row in front of everyone. Could this is been a precursor for where I might be stationed? From today's performance who knows?
Why not Pho?!?! I took beef broth and added water. I toasted some peppercorns, salt, anise, cinnamon sticks, and made a teabag to steep in the broth. I added raw onions, mushrooms, bacon renderings, garlic, spring onions, hoisen sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. My proteins were venison and pork that I grilled with salt pepper and chili oil. After I boiled the rice noodles I requested a sexy bowl and added the noodles which all along I was mentally and physically prepared for allowing myself at least 3 1/2 extra minutes. But down to the last 90 seconds, I scrambled frantically with noodled coming onto the burner from my spider; rookie move! I poured my broth over the sliced venison and pork but don't have any time for making sure any mushrooms were in it. I'm still beating myself up for that!
I garnished it with cilantro, green onions, and matchstick red pepper slices but is it enough to keep me here in my competition with 80 other talented home cooks? I beat myself over that mishap the entire way home to the hotel. My partner in this competition station next to me, Yan a Harvard graduate in economics. Yeah, he may be the most intelligent guy I have ever met, bonded over our dishes and life. he immigrated from China at age 7 for his mother to finish her schooling before moving as a family unit to Massachusetts and eventually staying there for school at Harvard. Yan gave me advice from this being my first Pho experience and he said "go with dried mushrooms”. It makes sense now if I only got my other mushrooms in the bowl first I replied laughing.
On our way back we stopped for In and Out! I couldn't have been happier! I picked out and even brought home souvenirs from my experience after my lunch/dinner. I still haven’t adjusted to the time zone haha. I was finally allowed by the producers to enjoy the pool and that I did! I had to have been in the hot tub for well over an hour talking to a gentleman who coincidentally enough lives in Safety Harbor, FL and works for a military company that is making rockets for us to get to outer space for habitation. Yeah, that's right, his company will transfer all materials and supplies for us to build a society out in outer space. This truly is another world out here, one that I am just starting to recognize my place in. Maybe it's the competition that is driving my awareness but either way it is exciting to know that maybe this rocket can help my dreams of winning this all sore into reality!
I am the next MasterChef!
80 of us begin a new journey from all over the US to be a part of reality TV. A chance for 10 minutes of immortality OK well maybe not for the chance but maybe a chance at $250,000. I know that's why am here! It is taking a large task for me to be here and with a view from my room of the mountains it forms a symbolic gesture of being isolated from my world back home!
Holden and Beth, I miss them very much and throughout this whole process it never felt real until today. After flying into LAX we were allowed five minutes exactly 5 minutes to say goodbye before bubble wrapping in Ziploc in hiding any trace of the person you are with the tights the rest of the world or what we have all left all behind in our pursuits. I have a baby back home for just started smiling and laughing; two months into this crazy thing called life and for me fatherhood. I don't know if I could do it again but I'm going to try hard at it! I want to have Holden be proud of me and for us to one day share in this memory. As a dad you take on new responsibilities and challenges and I love it! I am excited to share with him new tastes. I cannot wait to Instagram his first bite right into lemon! I cannot wait for him to read this account of what is going on.
From waking up at 3 AM and getting on a plane at 6 only to travel back in time without the aid of the flux capacitor to make it an eight hour travel day all before 11 AM. But being shuttled into a van with the opportunity to be vulnerable and scared all together with a pre-determined roommate in sharing a hotel room for the first time ever. My roommate is Leo, from New York City who came here with $300. No way to transfer money and a new lease on life from a three-year relationship with his partner one day after is 28 birthday. Our room has a view and the backdrop makes me admire why so many people love and gravitate towards California. The state has traffic but it is amazing looking into the city within the desert that shouldn't be here and maybe I shouldn't be here?
With everything going on it makes this experience bittersweet. I am one of 80 people that by weeks end will be 40 by end of next week 20 and so it begins my journey in front of 7 million people! 7 million people that will see a part of me or for that matter a part in itself. From my oversize bag holding my identity to then be constructed with the wardrobe team going through my clothes trying to make me in there image of who I am. And now, Patrick my story writer who is trying to change my story from being from Trumbull, Connecticut to Tampa, Florida as it is best to me but maybe not the story. This is all surreal!
Have I been bitten off more than I can chew? Or do I need to get over it, push through eating our hotel $16 club sandwiches and become something more of me? Something MasterChef!