August 27, 2012 12:30 PM by Christine McDow
When I first got the call from the MasterChef producers telling me that out of 60 thousand auditions I had made it to the TOP 100 I was absolutely flabbergasted. Every day for two months I went head to head with some of the most amazingly talented home cooks in the country. And every day I watched one of them walk out of the MasterChef kitchen, until there were just 5 of us left. I am sitting in the holding room with Becky, Frank, Josh and Christine and my skin is tingling with excitement.
We are not allowed contact with anyone in the outside world during our MasterChef journey, so when one of our wranglers quietly approaches me and says I have to call my sister because there’s an emergency, I panic. The news is not good: We are being evicted for noise complaints. My little family has just a few weeks left to find a place to live. I am devastated.
Frankie takes one look at my face and walks me outside for a breather. He gives me a cigarette after I beg him for it. He hates it when I smoke but the pressure of the competition has almost all of us lighting up now and again. And if I ever needed a cigarette, it was now.
Read Monti Carlo’s previous blogs:
Thoughts About Ryan
Hotel Madness and Ryans Nipples
Dishing on David, Becky and Stacy
Addressing Becky’s Comments
Making Gordon Ramsay Wet
Getting Yelled At By Gordon Ramsay
“What do I do Frankie?’ I sob. Frankie puts his hand on my shoulder “It’s OK. You’re going to be OK.”
I barely sleep that night fretting about my two year old, my little sister and my crazy old dog. How am I going to make this work?
The next morning I keep breaking down in tears and Becky shakes me out of it. “Put it out of your mind!” she scolds. “You are here to cook. That is all you should think about right now.”
She’s right. I ace the Mystery Box challenge and make it into the Top 3 for the very first time with my version of Thai chicken soup.
And then the judges reveal the Elimination Challenge: to replicate the dish that Graham Elliot made for President Barack Obama, a white tuna sashimi. My heart falls. I have no idea how to make one of the most important components, an avocado mousse. My hands are shaking so much I can’t slice a piece of tuna to save my life. When the judges call time, I know immediately my dish is not up to par. It looks like a jumbled mess. I would not serve it to my friends, much less a President.
I’m not surprised when Gordon Ramsay says, “Monti, you have a dream of you and your son having a great future. For now that future is with him at home.”
What I am surprised by is the amount of people that have reached out to me in the last few days. I have received thousands of messages from people all around the world. Most of them from single parents, kids who were raised by single parents and people that have had a rough go of it and have connected to my story. I feel incredibly blessed and humbled by the way these complete strangers have opened up their lives to me. Even though I want to reply to every single message, I know I won’t be able to, so know this:
When I first stepped into the MasterChef kitchen, I was a broken person. I had just wrapped up a messy divorce and a child custody battle. Even though I was unemployed and had a tough time making ends meet, my ex-husband never paid a dime in child support. My best friend, the man that had been my rock through the last few years, was shot in cold blood during an attempted robbery. I didn’t have the money to make it to his funeral. The combination of all of these events had left me hollow. I didn’t know which way was up, much less how to dig myself out of the emotional hole I found myself in.
And then something magic happened. Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot BELIEVED in me. They CHALLENGED me. They FORCED me to look at what had been right in front of me the whole time: life goes on. I could do anything I set my mind to.
I found the meaning of life on a cutting board. Who knows where you will find yours? The point is, keep searching. No matter how hard things are now, NEVER GIVE UP.
You know what’s crazy? When I got back home I had an email from Marc Young, a program director for a radio station in Arizona. I had sent him my radio demo just before I had started my MasterChef journey. Marc wanted me to audition for an on air position at his station, MY 103.9 in Phoenix. Suddenly, I had a way out. And thanks to the self confidence that I had found on MasterChef I knew without a doubt I would be able to do it.
There are so many people that help put together MasterChef that you never see. Story producers, handlers, make up ladies, wardrobe, camera men and women… hundreds of persons. Thank you to everyone on the MasterChef team. You are amazing to me.
Of course the biggest thank you goes to Mister Gordon Ramsay. I don’t know if you realize this sir. You saved my life. And there’s a little boy who gets a much better mom because of it. Thank you for making me whole again.
OH! And before I forget… thanks for always wearing really tight jeans. That was my favorite. ☺
Keep up with Monti via her BLOG www.slap-yo-momma.com or TWITTER @MC3Monti