This was a pretty rough episode for me. No way around it.
So let me break it down with the best Western cliche I can think of: John Wayne Style… Err, I mean Clint Eastwood.
The silver lining to Sunday’s episode was without a doubt having Emma Frisch & her posse over for a night full of coastal cuisine and the usual Brigantine high jinx.
It was great having Emma, a bunch of friends, lobsters, and lots of rum to help soften the blow of having to watch myself absolutely bomb on tv.
But even though my performance was horrendous, there was a little golden nugget tucked away in that commercial.
I introduced the world to Coley.
I’ve been going by the nickname Coley since I was a baby. But it’s a name that really only my close friends and family call me, not something I go around introducing myself as. But more and more I identify with being called Coley over Nicole. I’ve never really been a Nicky (although I’ve gone by Nic in a few circles). Coley is a little more unique, a little more playful, and it just feels more fitting to my character.
Nicole is my serious business persona. Coley is the down-to-earth, goofy person I am inside. Nicole can have resting bitch face, but Coley always looks happy! Observe the difference:
Emma and her awesome husband Bobby arrived in town mid-afternoon on Sunday. Chaser and I came straight from the beach and greeted them with sandy hugs and Italian subs.
Soon we were joined by Emma’s twin, Dimity, her husband Nolan, and friends Shanti and Steve. We headed over to Casa de Pullella for an impromptu dinner and to watch both FNS and the Atlantic City fireworks, which had been rescheduled after a stormy 4th of July.
Sunday was the epitome of what Coastal Cuisine is all about. Casual food with friends and family. Lots of locally caught fresh seafood, a little bit of meat (because, you know, some people are allergic), and lots and lots of veggies. Eating outside/on the beach is optional, although always preferred.
Lobsters and clams. Warm fingerling potato salad with bacon and long hots. Heirloom tomato panzanella with Shanti’s homemade bread. Apple cake with toasted meringue. Pasta with mama Pullella’s pesto. Pulled pork. Sweet Jersey corn. Zucchini gratin. So. Much. Butter.
Aperol spritzes, rum punches, and beers.
I wish every night could be as good as this one, but I guess that’s what makes nights like these so special in the first place. They don’t happen very often. So, when they do, they are to totally be cherished. And thanks to all these EMMA-zing pictures Emma took, we’ll always remember how special this night actually was.
Well, minus the whole struggling and being embarrassed on national television part. Yeah. That leads me to …
Well, for starters: my performance was bad. Reaaal Bad.
I held my breath and absolutely cringed when I watched. It was like reliving that brutal moment all over again.
There’s really nothing more to my poor performance other than the fact that they threw me a giant curve ball and it truly had me stumped.
I felt like a total goober trying to get those lines out. I was not confident in the script I had written, and I was letting the whole scene psych me out.
Your mind can be a dangerous place. Sometimes negative emotions can snowball and have the opposite affect on what you are trying to achieve. I know that in order to be the next food network star I need to project a fun and upbeat attitude all the time. I can’t let a stupid challenge like this get me all flustered.
You gotta be cool, man. Always.
But in that moment, I became so frustrated that I was unable to project anything other than nervous, awkward energy.
I was really, really disappointed in myself. Afterwards I thought of a gazillion different ideas that would have worked infinitely better than my “drier out here than death valley during prohibition” joke.
It was super lame, and I was trying way too hard.
I knew it then, but I couldn’t come up with anything better in time. So I just went for it, and hated every second.
I walked away from this challenge with one big giant lesson: Stop taking all of this so seriously.
Stop taking life so seriously.
What’s the point? You’re going to die some day, and then that’s it.
I didn’t go out for this competition because it seemed like a fun thing to do. I did it because I want this job reeeaal bad.
So if I don’t win, is it the end of the world?
No. It’s not.
Having so many wonderful people around me Sunday night was a great reminder of just that. I already have a thriving business, a loving husband, a supportive family, and the best friends a girl could ask for. Winning Food Network Star would be a great bonus. But I’ve really already won in life.
So it’s about time I stop worrying so much, and let myself just be Coley.
Being critiqued and seeing one of your friends go home is never a barrel of monkeys, even when you’re the winner.
But this was my first time on the bottom, and boy, did it suck. And on top of it, mi amigos and former Rrrreece’s teammates Reuben and Emma were stuck there with me.
Reuben and I clearly had the worst commercials, but I still don’t really understand what the big fuss was about Emma’s. It was adorable! Her commercial was informative and funny. I thought she nailed it. But I’m not a Food Network Star judge, and therefore my opinion is null.
Giada spoke some real truth to me that night. And coming from her, I really took it to heart. I’ve learned to present myself in a certain manner in order to be taken seriously as a chef and a business person (Nicole). But Giada was telling me that I’ve already gained their respect in those departments. It’s time to let go, and show them who I really am at heart. Coley!
As relieved as I was to be safe, I was so bummed that Reuben wouldn’t be joining us in Vegas.
Reuben is a kind, genuine soul, and we developed a sibling-like relationship while filming. His hotel room was right across from mine, and he was always the first thing I heard each day. He would come out into the hallway to hug, kiss and greet everyone good morning. That’s just the kind of guy he is.
Reuben is a big ball of Cuban energy, and often drove me up the walls with his pre-coffee early morning chatter. I was quick to shush him, but would then run over to give him a hug and rub his head like a little brother. Reuben has a great sense of humor, and is quick to call me out on my “Coley problems.” I’m always up for good- natured teasing, so we got along just fine. And as Reuben knows, I can certainly dish it right back with the best of ’em!
LA- its been real. But we’re goin’ to VEGAS BABY!!!
Bring it on.