Yeah, I decided to do this. Was it for me? Probably not, but I had to know from some good ole first-hand knowledge. This is just how I’m built. Was it 3 minutes? Well, the entire experience was actually about 3 hours but the “plating” was 3 minutes.

MasterChef Audition for Season 7

I was not too far from the DoubleTree Hotel in New York City but I had to wake up at 5:00 am nonetheless. That was a very brutal morning. I was sick for the two days prior to the audition (and during) which made matters slightly more nauseating than normal.

After I managed to pull myself out of bed and do all the morning errands, I quickly prepped my meal, gathered my utensils, filled the cooler and headed out. It was a long unsettling train ride into Pennsylvania Station.

I quickly took the F-train up to Time Square and arrived at 8:00 am sharp.

MasterChef Experience

First 30 Minutes

The DoubleTree banquet room already had about 100+ people in it – sigh.

While waiting in line to register I saw people wheeling in Radio Flyers full of “stuff”. Seriously?

I also saw backpacks laden with all sorts of gear; knives, strainers, pots, etc. I kept thinking to myself, “we only have three minutes to plate”. I saw one guy with just a brown paper bag. That was refreshing.

60 Minutes In

You sign-in, the staff matriculates you, and then you inevitably start chatting with someone who is just as nervous as you are. It passes the time. Your mind wanders off to the actual judging and you become nervous all over again. Things are sucking bad by this time.

The MasterChef staff start gathering groups of people that would like to film outside for some B-roll or and filler content. I sat where watching everyone march out into the cold wet morning in Times Square. I thought about leaving at this point.

90 Minutes In

The staff wrapped up the outdoor filming and started to gather groups of people by number –  e.g. “Hello My Name is 170”. At this point I was wondering if this VIP status I received via email was actually worth anything.

The room was filling up fast. There were about 200 people now. One of the staffers suddenly shouted out that all numbers with a “V” on them come forward. Sweet on! Let’s fast track this suckass day.

All twenty-five of us were huddled into the hallway. It was finally our turn.

120 Minutes In

We all clumsily headed up to the floor upstairs. Again, we all gathered into a hallway awaiting the slaughter the cue. We watched each other fidget for the next 20-30 minutes. This is an excellent time to use the restroom by the way. If you have a flask, now is also a good time to turn that fucker upside down.

At this point I would strongly recommend aiming for a VIP status for the MasterChef audition. It saved me about an hour in time during this experience.

150 Minutes In

One of the staffers finally came out and shook us out of our nervous stupor. One-by-one we filed into the room where the camera crew and judges were milling around. This is where the time starts to fly.

Everyone is given a section on the row of tables. You are then directed to unload your containers, plates, accouterments, garnishes, etc. quickly onto the table space you are assigned. Quickly is key. Get every thing on that table now. I believe it was about 2-3 minutes. This includes opening containers up, chopping, garnishing, plating and arranging. It goes by very quickly. Think carefully of what you plate.

There are isn’t anything to use here. “Nada”. You are presented with a table. That’s it. Your food will need to stand up to about 5 hours of waiting time.

One of the Judges signals for the timer. “Everyone, you have 3 minutes…starting…NOW!”

Plate. Do this will as much efficiency as you can. Three minutes felt like 10 seconds. At that point, everyone was required to step away, stop plating, and clear the table surface of everything but the meal.

180 Minutes In

This was a grind for me. I watched everyone’s dishes go up one-by-one to the camera/lighting crew for shooting and perhaps some Instagramming.

I wasn’t thrilled with the presentation of the Xi’an Noodle I made but if Xi’an Famous Foods can make a million with it perhaps it will weigh in here as well.

The judge came over and asked only a couple of questions about the ingredients. I did note that the judges made a lot more inquiries into the other foods. Perhaps it was their lack of familiarity with Xi’an food. Who knows, who cares at this point.

The judge not knowing I had Chinese chive blossoms said he was not a fan of the parsley stems. He also wanted to see more more salt to something I already consider quite salty. One of the biggest mistakes I made was I forgot to cut the stem from a Shiitake mushroom. It’s fibrous and tough. He also asked me what happened to the sauce? I said it’s cold (without the “no ders”).

What I learned / Confirmed in the MasterChef Audition for Season 7

  1. I made the mistake of making something a little too exotic for the Western palate. It also looked kinda sloppy once plated and the sesame paste in the sauce started to separate a little. One of the guys next to me said his buddy made it to L.A. with a salad. #$@!
  2. I also don’t have a lot of drama in my life. I should of made something up.
  3. Don’t attend if you are totally under the weather. I dragged myself there with a nasty head cold. Hard to be bubbly on camera at that point.
  4. Sometimes you get an interesting, well traveled tasting judge, sometimes you don’t. That’s all in the roll.

Would I do it again? Who knows…I might just be better at working hard in my lab.