Well, sadly my appearance on The Chefs’ Line is rapidly becoming a distant memory, but before it completely fades in to the distance, I thought I would do a little write up of my experience of being on the show.
How it all began….
It was way back in November last year (that’s 2016 for those taking notes) that Steve saw an ad on SBS asking for ‘passionate home cooks’ who specialised in a particular cuisine. He thought that that sounded like me, so I checked out the website and investigated further. I agreed that it did indeed sound like me, and decided to fill in the application form on the website. At the time I had no idea what the show would be about or what format it would be or anything really, just that it was a celebration of food and different cuisines. I figured I had nothing to lose, and it all sounded like a bit of fun. Unsurprisingly, the cuisine I chose was Japanese. It’s the cuisine I cook the most and am most familiar with. Even if my heritage is Austrian/German. The application form was pretty straight forward, but the 1 minute video I had to submit took me some time to get right. Steve came home from work one afternoon to see me sitting at the kitchen table, iPad in front of me, repeatedly fumbling my words as I tried to fit all the millions of things I wanted to say in to a very short 1 minute video. Luckily for you all, I seem to have deleted all my out takes, so I won’t be posting one here. Form filled in, and video filmed, I submitted my application, thinking I would probably never hear of any of this again.
Well I was wrong….
Yep. I was wrong. A couple of weeks later I got an email saying I had made it through the first stage and that I had to attend a casting interview where I needed to prepare and bring a dish in my chosen cuisine. I decided to make a Bento filled with an array of different foods – Panko crumbed prawns, Sesame Spinach, Tamagoyaki, rice and some other things. I figured it was a good bet because it would travel well and I wouldn’t have to worry about it going cold or needing to be heated up. I was a bit nervous on the morning of the interview, but mostly excited. This was pretty much a dream come true, and to be honest I was just super stoked that I had made it this far. I was in the interview with two other potentials. A Swedish lady, and and Italian guy. We each had to serve our food and talk about it to the camera and answer questions about why we chose our cuisine. The Italian guy made this amazing fish stew. It was so good! I wish I had the recipe. I was pretty happy with how it all went, but I was still not confident that I would get any further. And as mentioned earlier, I really was just happy to have made it this far.
Then I got another call
About a week later, I got a follow up call where I answered some more questions about why I love Japanese cusisine so much. I was really happy how this interview went, and I was starting to feel a bit more confident that maybe, just maybe I would get through. Oh, and btw at this stage I still had very little idea of what the show would entail.
The end of the school year
For those of you who don’t know, I work at a school. With pre primary children. This job is hectic at the best of times, but especially so at the end of the year. So, forgive me if I forgot to check my junk folder of my email every now and then. Which is what happened, and which is where all the important emails always go 😪. And so I was at work one morning when I received a phone call (let me point out at this stage that I am a Teachers Assistant, not a teacher, so at no point did I leave the children unattended), it wasn’t a number I recognised, so I ran out of the classroom and answered it. Sure enough, it was The Chefs Line production team and they wanted to know my availability for filming!!! I had not responded to the email they sent (which as previously mentioned went to my junk mail) so they needed to know asap when I was available. Luckily for me (and the bonus of working in a school) filming was scheduled during the school holidays, so my response was “I am free whenever I need to be” Woo hoo! I made it through!!!!! So damn exciting!
Now we play the waiting game
Filming was to take place in Sydney at the end of the school holidays, so I had all of the break to ponder and speculate just exactly how this would all go down. And to practise my Japanese cooking. Oh and by this stage, I did have a rough idea of what the show entailed, and it sounded great, but I was sworn to secrecy!
Off to Sydney I go…
Well finally, the time arrived, and I flew off to Sydney on a Saturday afternoon to begin filming the next day. I arrived in Sydney around 7:30pm, checked in to my hotel and set off to find me some dinner. Food is important. I wandered down to nearby Mascot station where I found a Vietnamese restaurant and promptly ordered a large bowl of Pho.
I enjoyed it immensely, but man, so much food. I wondered why I didn’t just order a couple of spring rolls instead. I headed back to the hotel, and by this stage it was getting late-ish. I had to be up at around 5am the next morning, so I wanted to get a good night’s sleep. But, my body was still on Perth time (3 hours earlier), so I wasn’t particularly tired. But, sleep. I need sleep to function, so at around 10:30pm I decided to try to sleep. Well, I wasn’t exactly successful and after a restless night of trying to cover all the random glowing lights in the hotel room that were bothering me, my alarm went off at 5am…..or 2am, depending on what side of the country you are in. Buffet breakfast was included in my stay, but the buffet didn’t begin until six am. And I was getting picked up by a shuttle at six fifteen am. Always one to be prepared, I packed my own breakfast from home. Some muesli, milk and dried fruit. Winning.
As it turned out, when I went down to the foyer, I actually had enough time for a real coffee and a chia coconut thing from the buffet. Then I was whisked off with the three other home cooks ( Naoko, also from Perth, Larissa from Brisbane and Adam also from Brisbane) to the studio.
Bang a gong
Once we got to the studio we got given our aprons, a tour, introduced to lots of lovely people and discovered that the chefs we were going up against were from the fancy Sydney restaurant Sokyo. We did some interviews, I got a quick lesson in using a deep fryer (I’d never used one before) and before we knew it we were into our first battle – cooking Tempura.
The first battle was the hardest – learning where everything was, and how the stove worked etc etc To be honest the cameras didn’t really worry me as I was so focused on my cooking. Tempura is not a favourite of mine to cook – it’s so hard to get right, so I was pretty worried that I was going to get kicked out after the first battle.
As it turned out I didn’t end up getting kicked out on the tempura battle (Adam went home) and I made it through to the next round. Woo! I was really happy I made it through. I think I would’ve been disappointed had I have gone home on the first challenge. Everything after that was a bonus.
The next cook off between the 3 home cooks left and the Station Chef was Takaki. I made Salmon Tataki and was really happy with the result. But Naoko and Larissa also made some amazing looking dishes.
Turned out, I made it through again! Sadly Naoko was sent home on this challenge,even though I thought her dish looked amazing. After a few more interviews, I headed back to the hotel around 9pm. It was a long day, but so much fun! Loved every minute of it. I managed to order some room service before promptly passing out.
The time just flies during these challenges, but I was really happy with how my soup turned out. BUT I was not prepared for what ended up happening – I BEAT THE SOUS CHEF!!!!!! And I GOT A TROPHY!!!!! Omg, best moment in my life ever! (Except for that time I played bass with Sting, but that’s another story) And for anyone who would like to try my recipe at home here is a link to it on the SBS website (that’s pretty bloody exciting in itself for me – having a recipe up on the SBS Food website) My Udon soup recipe
And then, it was just me. Up against Chase, the Head Chef of Sokyo. Cooking Robatayaki with Binchotan charcoal – charcoal that can heat up to 1000 degrees Celsius. 1000 degrees people! That is insane. Right, well I was freaking out about this at this point in time, but what can you do, you just gotta go with it. I made Yakitori on it and nearly burnt the studio down (well, ok, not quite) and man, one hour is just not long enough!
That was a seriously tough challenge, but I managed to successfully cook some food on it, so that was good. And I will admit, even though it was a little stressfu, I was having the time of my life – and at one point, when the flames were flaring up I really did feel like I was battling it out on The Iron Chef. Dream Achieved.
Here’s me waiting all by my lonesome after the challenge awaiting my fate/results.
In the end Chase kicked my butt with an awesome grilled fish dish that just looked amazing and I don’t even know how he managed to cook something like that on one of those grills. I wasn’t disappointed, I did my best and was happy with what I plated up.
After a few more interviews it was all over and I was safely back at the hotel where I met up with Taryn, Mike and their kids for dinner at the hotels restaurant. Kudos to them for putting up with me – I was buzzing and talking at about a million miles an hours from all the excitement. Dinner was delicious by the way. This was a pork belly skewer thing and a pavlova dessert.
So all in all, it was the most awesome experience and I loved every bit of it. Everyone on the production team was super, really helpful and friendly. The other home cooks Naoko, Larissa and Adam were all super talented and awesome. The judges, Mel, Mark and Dan were all lovely and Chase, Dan, Alex and Rebecca from Sokyo were great fun and we had a lot of laughs.
Best experience ever.
Now, who will give me my own TV show? 😜