MasterChef tune in: MasterChef airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on FOX.
At what point did you decide cooking was what you wanted to do?
“I have been cooking since I was 9 years old. I was always feeding someone. Whether it was my dolls or the kids in the neighborhood. I just felt at home in the kitchen. I was probably in my 20’s when I just KNEW! I really can’t pinpoint the exact time or age, I just know I was always most comfortable in the kitchen and watching people eat.”
What is your favorite thing to cook?
A. “That’s the hardest question I get asked because I really don’t know. I like creating. So, on the days that I just go to the store and let the ingredients do the talking. At that point, it’s my favorite thing.”
Cooking or baking?
“Baking is a science and if it’s not exact then it’s usually a flop. Cooking is an art. I can really just go wild or be conservative. There is no limit to what you can do with a few ingredients and a hot pan.”
What made you decide to audition for MasterChef?
“My friend Michael called me the day before and basically TOLD me that I needed to be at the audition at 8:00 the next morning with my dish ready to be tasted by the judges. I tried to rationalize my way out of it, but he insisted that if I didn’t that we would no longer be friends. The day of the audition was also the day of my son’s senior prom. Fortunately for me, it’s a whole lot easier getting a boy together for the prom than a girl. So, I prayed about what to cook, went to the store that night, got up the next morning and cooked my dish.”
When you made it on MasterChef, what was the hardest thing you had to do?
“The hardest thing to do was to learn how to balance between being a student and being Yachecia. The judges are very intimidating and rightfully so. They’ve earned their place in the culinary world. Trying to emulate what they teach, yet remaining true to yourself is a balancing act that I still don’t know if I mastered. It was also very physically, spiritually, and emotionally demanding.”
Do you have someone who was your inspiration for becoming a cook?
“My Aunt Ann was my biggest inspiration. She was a firm believer that there should always be an extra seat at the table and an extra helping of food, just in case. She made EVERYTHING from scratch. She made it look so easy too. I was always in awe being in the kitchen with her. The holidays were the best. We would get fresh walnuts by the bushel and have to crack them for days in preparation for the holiday baking.”
Who do you think is the most difficult person to cook for, the judges on MC or family?
“Definitely the judges. Family is easy to please. All you have to do is make the things that you know they love. The proven recipes always work with family. That is not the case with the judges. You have to keep constantly growing and evolving in such a short amount of time. It’s stressful, to put it mildly.”
Have you ever experimented with cooking and found something you were hesitant about that ended up turning out fantastic? If so, what was it?
“So the first time I attempted to make Chinese food was a day that I think my wig totally flipped. I had all these ideas of how it would taste and how it would be better than take out. To my surprise, the entire meal was great. My Father-in-law thought that I had purchased the egg rolls and the rice. He probably still thinks that to this day, LOL.”
So, after MasterChef, what’s next for you?
“So post MasterChef, my plan is to marry my two passions; ministry and food. I plan to travel to churches in cities and towns all over to teach cooking classes as well as minister the gospel. I will still be available for private events. However, I want to be found feeding people while feeding people! So don’t be surprised if you see this face popping up in a city near you!”
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