Well, here it is the night before my Chopped episode and I am finally sitting down to write this blog post. I’ve been thinking of this blog post and how cathartic it would be to write over the past 5 months, but in the meantime I’ve built it up so much in my head that I have now been procrastinating writing it.
So, by now you’ve all see my Chopped Grillmasters Episode and saw me get voted off the island (figuratively) for my Oyster debacle. I’ve been internalizing that dish for past months- how will it look on tv, and thinking of all the different ways I could have done the dish differently and spent my time more wisely.
One of my biggest fears about going on the show was about not doing well and looking bad on TV. I know it is great just to be invited onto the show, and I was completely flattered to be invited to try out, but I’m also quite a perfectionist and was really hoping to do well! Not being professionally trained and one of the younger participants on the show, I definitely felt intimidated. The show had Sam Choy (who’s competed on Iron Chef!!), and Dr. BBQ- need I say more?!!
So, when I said on the show “If I get voted off first- I will need major therapy” – I was not kidding. Since I got back from Arizona, I’ve been rehashing those damn oysters, the things I did wrong- how I could have done it differently, ad nauseum. In fact, after the show- I’ve never had as many encounters with oysters before. Everywhere I go- Oysters!! It’s like the God’s are rubbing salt in that wound!
Here is the first time I grilled oysters, as documented on my blog over 3 years ago. Definitely a better grilled oyster experience! Paired with the jalapeno lime butter- this recipe is a winner!
Despite all my worry, the entire process made me a much better chef! As with all things in life, if you don’t put yourself out there- you won’t learn anything or grow as a person. And that is how I feel about my experience with doing a reality cooking competition!
Once I learned I made the show- I went into prep mode. My husband Scott was a great sport and would go the store, buy the most random and (sometimes) repulsive ingredients he could find, hide them from me, and then “unveil them” and announce the episode round (app, entree, dessert) and how much time I had. Scott, playing the part, would talk in his “Ted Allen” Host Voice and say “Chef Robyn, tonight you have canned eel, and cactus fruit to make an appetizer- Go!”
During this time, Scott brought home a coconut and whole fish for the dinner portion, cookie crisp and lychee berries for dessert- you get the picture. It was in my attempt to chop a coconut that I put a huge gash in my best knife, and then proceeded to take the coconut to the patio and throw it on the ground to effectively open it up. I just couldn’t get the damn thing to open! (Before I went on, I also tried this over and over again, in addition to watching countless youtube videos). My goals was to try to practice things that the professionally trained Chefs would already know how to do and could do it quickly.
With the fish, I was trying to teach myself to filet a fish quickly, and grill it in under 30 minutes. That night I did a grilled snapper with coconut lime compound butter (made from my patio coconut) that was actually very good. I think I would have made it to the next round!
Through all of this I found that time after time, dessert was always my strong point and the appetizer always came in last. Unfortunately on the Real Chopped, if you don’t make it past the appetizer round, you can’t redeem yourself with the entree or dessert!
My favorite dish that pushed my culinary creativity was with the cookie crisp cereal and canned lychee berries that Scott brought home for dessert. I toasted the cookie crisp on the grill, caramelized grilled bananas and then layered them as a parfait with cointreau infused whipped cream, along with the lychee berries, and knew I had a winner. Dessert on the grill agrees with me- probably because I’ve always had a sweet tooth!
I also religiously studied the Flavor Bible book, so I would know which ingredients and
flavor profiles work together. (I recommend this book to anyone who likes to cook-it really shows you how different ingredients compliment each other).
So, despite my getting voted out early, and then internalizing and stressing about it for over 5 months, I don’t regret doing the show. I met some really awesome people on the show like Doug Keiles from New Jersey, Tim Grandinetti from Winston Salem, NC and Ernest Cervantes from Texas- who were all really great people to meet and exchange ideas with. The producers and everyone I encountered from Food Network were nice, extremely professional and very creative which only justified my positive sentiment of the network.
I know that I will continue to hone my skills and this experience only broadened my realm of experience. What a cool concept to incorporate professionally trained chefs, competition BBQ champs, the culinary Ambassador of Hawaii, and even a wacky, grill obsessed blogger- to mix together in a cooking competition set in Old Tucson, Arizona??!!! How awesome is it that I’ve grilled Oysters in the heart of the desert where they used to film old John Wayne movies??
Despite how I did on the show, I’ve checked off another box of cool experiences to add to my list! Thanks for the opportunity Food Network!
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Well, look on the bright side…being on ‘Chopped’ brought you tons of exposure…LOL! While you were being introduced, I googled your blog and perused it while the other cheftestants were being introduced. Up until this evening, I had never heard of your blog. I’m glad I found it because I am always on the hunt for new recipes and inspiration. I was sorry to see you chopped first, though. Perhaps you will get another shot at it though, and because you’ve been thought it already, you will be stronger competition. I’ll be looking forward to reading your posts. 🙂
You have a great attitude! I like your website too. I saw you on chopped and was very excited to check your site out! Good luck to you and I’ll be using your recipes, and spreading the word about your site.
Love your blog and can appreciate those expressions of intimidation going on the show CHOPPED – GRILLED MASTERS. That took courage going against Chef’s who have received Beard Awards and carry much more experience. Competitions can be emotionally stressing but regardless of serving some pieces of shell in your dish, you did succeed to look good on TV and your dish look tasty. Surely I believe we will see great things from you in the future and more wonderful recipes on your blog.
Mornin Robyn – I hadn’t seen the episode and sorry to hear they sent you home, but as you said, you were going against some heavy hitters. If it inspired you to overcome rather than give up, it was well worth the experience and I’ll look for the episode to watch you in action, although I’ve already experienced the delicous result of your cooking. Also, this exposure could open up other opportunities for you. Lastly, you make a very cute cowgirl.
I forgot to ask you to check out my blog when you get a chance – http://bigdudesramblings.blogspot.com/2012/08/grilled-veggie-sandwich-and-tomato-soup.html
Hi Larry- I appreciate the works of support! i am very relieved the show has aired!!!! 🙂
What you said…what a great opp for a grillgrrrl to get out there and compete.
And wear chaps.
You got to hook up and meet all sorts of characters, make great contacts, and learned some things about yourself, too.
Sounds like wins all the way around. Keep doing what you do (minus internalizing your agony…hope this was your release – let it go!)! This website and your contributions to the world of backyard grilling/smoking are all very helpful…we follow you on FB and review your suggestions/ideas very often…lotsa thought/menu starters here!
Maybe we’ll see you in another competition-themed show in the future? 🙂
Larry and Mary-
Thanks so much for the support. It was a great experience. Once I saw the show, i really felt relieved. I had been building everything up in my head. I think it is easy to have a fear of the unknown. It was a great experience and i would definitely do it again!
HI Roger- thank you for the nice comment. I would love to learn more about chuckwagon cooking so if you would ever like to be a guest blogger on grillgrrrl.com please let me know. Also, another Chuck Wagon guy will be on the 4th episode that you may be interested in watching. His name is Kent Rollins and will be on next week.
thanks so much! It was a really neat experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Thanks for checking out my site and if you end up making one of my recipes, let me know what you think!
Thanks for the kind words. I am really relieved about the show being on especially after I had built it up so much in my head! If you end up trying a recipe- let me know what you think.
I am also following you back on pinterest! ahh I love pinterest!!
This made me laugh! Oysters everywhere!
To be honest, I wouldn’t even know where to start by grilling an oyster!
I admire your attitude and competitive spirit to do the show. To quote Michael Jordan, “I can handle failure. What I can’t handle is not trying.”
those were definitely not like the oysters we get in Florida!
Thanks!!! Much appreciated!
Robyn I think it’s very inspiring and amazing that you were even on the show! Go food bloggers!!!! I like the way you were preparing for the show… I would totally do the same thing, and I’m also intrigued by this Flavor Bible book. Even though you didn’t win the grand prize your a winner in my eyes for making it on the show!
Loved your appearance on Chopped…. Sure that you will get many new fans of your blog… Like me!!!!
Thanks Maureen! I appreciate the support! Thanks for checking out my site!
Katie- the flavor bible is awesome! You will dig it!
Yes you do make a cute cowgirl!! FYI. In no way did you disappoint your mom and I. You made us very proud. I like what GaDawg said when he mentioned Michael Jordan’s quote,” I can handle failure, What I can’t handle is not trying.” You have always tried things outside your comfort zone and as we all know that is where we grow. I believe you have inspired those folks that may have been considering pursing that dream to take the risk including me. Luv Dad
Like a lot of others I just saw the episode. So happy to add this site to the list of food blogs I follow. I love to grill but I limit myself because I never know what to do.
I just wanted to let you know that you have now gained one more fan of your website thanks to your appearance on Chopped. I finally got to see the episode last night and was cheering for you right away. I’m sorry you got chopped after the first round, but I’m very impressed with what you did on the show. And I also liked the great sportsmanship of yourself and the other 3 contestants. You all did great. As a woman, I’m also the griller in my family, while my husband keeps our small children entertained. Despite being told that the grill is the man’s domain, he says that if I want to cook him a good meal while he relaxes and keeps the kids out of my way, he’s not going to complain. I recently treated myself to a new Weber grill and am always looking for good, healthy grill recipes. I was so excited to see you on Chopped and was even more excited to hear you have a blog about grilling. I look forward to perusing your site and trying out some new recipes.
I love Chopped and it was awesome to see you compete, I can’t even imagine the stress and craziness of being there. I love that you had Chopped challenges at home, that would definitely be a good way to practice. I’m glad it was a great experience for you! Maybe we will see you again on the show in the future.
And that tofu looks absolutely delicious, I hope you post a few recipes. I’m always looking for new tofu recipes. 🙂
Count me in as another new follower who found you on Chopped: Grillmasters. Even though you didn’t win, the fact that you’re growing from the experience and getting so many new followers should be a win in itself: I’m a longtime viewer of Chopped and as a young woman myself always root for the female chefs. The fact that you’re so confident on the grill is really inspiring for me–I’m definitely very intimidated by grilling and have always shied away from cooking with it, but now that I know about your site I hopefully will be able to ease myself into it! So thank you so much for the inspiration!
Thanks for the words of encouragement Kat! If you try any of my recipes- please let me know what you think. It’s alway cool to hear of more female grillers out there!
Thanks for the words of encouragement Kat! If you try any of my recipes, let me know what you think!
Thanks for the support! It is always so cool to hear of other ladies holding down the fort in the grilling arena! What kind of weber did you buy yourself? The weber I bought my husband was my “gateway grill” lol. It led to being quite obsessed!
I, for one, think you did a great job! There are few people who could do what you did…. I blame it on the pressure you were under!! Of course, you have the right attitude about it all.. it was a learning experience.. and how cool was it to grill along side some of the best grilling chefs in the business!!!
Jenn- I appreciate the support and words of encouragement. It was a cool experience and I’m glad I did it. 🙂
I just the saw the episode today and was so disappointed for you, I think you were great! AND the best news of all is that you mentioned your blog, so now you have a new fan and I have a great new grilling resource!! Thank you!
Hi Joy! Thanks for watching. I wish I had made it further but it was a great experience and it gave me a great opportunity to tell more people about my site. If you give any of my recipes a try, please let me know!
Hi Robyn! Just watched the show this morning. I think you could have won the app round if not for the chard pieces of shell. The one great thing is that because of you being there I have now discovered your blog, which I will be sharing with my FB friends (if you don’t mind that is) 🙂
Maybe the Food Network will bring back contestants that deserve a second shot?
Good luck, and I look forward to reading here a lot more!
It was fun to watch someone I know on TV! You did great, and it must have been such an amazing experience. I think it’s hilarious that you, this tiny little girl, were paired up with three huge guys! Miss you girl, we have to get together soon! You can show me some chopped skills and we’ll cook dinner!
I was sorry to see you get chopped last night but I was excited to find your blog! 🙂
Watched your episode, really bummed you got cut but ya sure got spunk girl!! You’ll get’em next time!!
(Should have told the judges that the flakes were extra calcium supplements) 🙂
You were fabulous on the show! I love to watch, but am terrified of ever going on (not that I’m that good, but …). It would take me the full time just to figure out what to make, and sometimes I don’t even know what in the world the ingredient is! And then to have the judges pick it apart – yeah, like what would THEY have done??? Mazal tov on your courage and for showing what we girls can do!
Thanks Mary for the support! It’s so hard to figure out what you are going to make and then to have the added stress of knowing that you will be competing for ingredients makes it even more stressful! I was thinking of doing a brioche but Tim took the crusty bread so I settled on doing the oysters rockefeller style! Which ultimately got me chopped because those oysters were so brittle!!!
Exactly Gary! I should have told them that was garnish lol. thanks for watching, it was a cool experience and I got to meet a lot of really great bbq people so my bbq family continues to grow!
thanks Laurie! If you try a recipe let me know!
Thanks John! Ive cooked oysters on the grill many times before but not with those type of oysters! As you can see by the show, they try to get the most bizarre, unexpected of all ingredients they can find. When they give you fruit dishes they make sure that the fruit is unripe, etc. Always makes it interesting!
A nice write up, great job just getting on the show!
You did amazing, I can only imagine how much effort you and your hubby put into this. You came off like a rockstar…you have star quality my friend!! XO
I have been following for blog for years!!! I am the griller in my family and I absolutely love your recipes! They are always a big hit!!!
I couldn’t wait to watch you on the show! I thought that you did awesome! It took alot of nerve to go up against all those guys!!! You didn’t seem the least bit intimidated!
Just wanted you to know that I am a big fan! Keep the recipes coming!!! 🙂
Man, I so wish you had taped those practice rounds, especially with Scott’s Ted Allen impression. Did he wear the glasses?
Thanks Maria! I appreciate the support! It was a little nervewracking thinking I was going to get chopped on national television but it wasn’t as bad as I thought! 🙂 HOpe you and Raul are doing well!
Thanks for the support Katie. It is always really cool to meet a woman who is the griller in the family. Please do share your recipes that you like- I am always posting my reader’s recipes as I’m sure you’re an excellent cook too! 🙂 Cheers!