After my journey of becoming one of the 3 finalists for The Rachael Ray Show’s First Culinary Tuition Competition, I was invited to New York City to compete for the final prize of Culinary School Tuition to International Culinary Center, formerly The French Culinary Institute.

In my last post, I shared the entire process of how I was selected as a finalist.  In this post I wanted to bring you along on my 2 day visit to The Rachael Ray Show.

Let me start by saying I have a great appreciation for the tv production and directing process.  There is a great deal of waiting involved in recording just a few minutes of great tv.  When I arrived the night before call time I was way more calm than I had been earlier in the day at work.  I was a nervous wreck, I couldn’t focus on anything but wonder, what the show producers had planned for us, all unknown to us (the finalists) of course.  I had a late flight in to the city, so I walked the streets of my favorite city to find some food and relax before the next morning’s activities began.

My boyfriend came to the hotel in the morning to send me off to the first day of taping, we weren’t able to bring anyone with us to the taping activities.  The first day I met one of the show’s team members and the other finalist in the lobby of the hotel that we stayed at.  We got in an SUV with a driver to go, who knows where, we were left in the dark.  As we approached SoHo, I knew exactly where we were heading, but I didn’t want to ruin it for my new friends (the contestants).  We were parked up the block from The International Culinary Center for what seemed like an hour, while the cameras and sound got set up.  Once it was confirmed that we were going to visit the ICC, the nerves kind of all boiled into great excitement.  We entered the Institute and were greeted by one of the Chef’s of the school Chef Candy Argondizza the Vice President of Culinary and Pastry Arts.  Chef Candy toured us through all of the floors and the famous hallways of the ICC.  We got to see the extensive culinary library, the classrooms, which were kitchens, and finally the hallway of hand prints of several of the chefs that have visited the schools.  I was so excited to put my hands in Chef Jacques Pépin’s hand prints.

Little did I know, not sixty minutes later I was going to be surprised, with meeting Chef Jacques Pépin.  And not only was I going to meet this member of culinary royalty, I was getting a cooking lesson from him.  After I got a kiss on the cheek from this culinary legend, we proceeded to wait for the kitchens to be set up for the segment.  The segment included Chef Pépin cooking 3 dishes with a select amount of ingredients.  It took him a total of 25 minutes to make everything.  He made 2 dishes with all parts of the chicken, and finally a dessert of apples caramelized in sugar.  I wish I got photo’s but we ate it, immediately and the producers and crew finished it off.

Star Struck

To wrap up the time in the kitchen, we were presented with our first challenge in the finals.  We were challenged with a basket of ingredients (potatoes, chicken, mushrooms, and asparagus) to make at least one dish using all ingredients and we had to have 2 of each.  I am not sure how the points shook out, but I know I had a good effort put forth, by doing a dish with dark meat and a slightly gummy potato puree, and white meat with pan roasted potato and carrots, and slightly burnt mushrooms.  Take a look at the cooking competition footage on my youtube channel Foodie Engineer.  Once that challenge was over, we had hours and hours of taping interviews.  Imagine chopped and the confession like interview.  I was asked several questions in the present tense as if I was in the kitchen cooking right then, and I had to give answers to provide footage for the editors.  Very cool process.  We wrapped taping at midnight and were set for call time the next morning, so I woke up pretty tired the next morning.  The next post will be the conclusion of the experience and I will share the great learnings and my plans going forward.

Thanks again, for riding with me on this journey.

Foodie Engineer