Another episode of Food Network Star is under my belt, and I can’t believe I made it through.
This was easily the most difficult episode of the season, on so many different levels.
Welllllllll, except for that one part where I got to eat a bowl of ice cream that cost about as much as my car is currently worth. There was nothing difficult about that.
Walking into the poker room and standing in front of the mentors, I was gearing up for yet another tough challenge. But instead, this happened!? It’s no wonder I was giddy.
Seriously, when I heard I was getting to eat a $1,000 sundae I about lost my mind.
It’s sort of hard to tell by my reaction, but I loooove ice cream.
I was whisked away to Serendipity III and sat solo at a table, sipped a glass of prosecco (NOT cava), and feasted on an ice cream sundae adorned with real edible gold. When else would you ever get a chance to do this?
In Food Network Star, and in life, there’s almost always a catch. Seldom are things so good they’re actually true. Of course, in this case, there was a grueling challenge right around the corner.
I could go on about the difficulty of cooking an unfamiliar ingredient, about how I was in the weeds making ice cream, or about how I gave a shout out to my husband and the ACFD instead of connecting my dish to Thailand.
But, instead, I’m going to talk about something else.
Food Network Star has given me so many opportunities to do things I would never have a chance to do in my real life, and that is really, really cool.
I’ve not only had the opportunity to cook for celebrities and eat expensive desserts, but also to form friendships- real, actual friendships – with the 11 other contestants.
It is truly emotional and legitimately difficult to see a person go home each week. And the longer the show goes on, the harder it gets.
Of course this is a competition, and we all want to win. But we spend so much darn time together that it’s impossible not to get close. Especially when you all share so much in common.
It’s no secret that Emma and I have formed a pretty strong friendship as a result of being on the show together. Sometimes people just click, and Emma and I did right from the start. We are the same age. We both grew up in the northeast, but spent a good chunk of time during college in Louisiana. We listen to a lot of the same music.
We’re both recently married to two amazing guys. No, we don’t have two husbands each, I mean we both have husbands that are great. But only one each. Never mind.
We both do yoga. We’re both half Italian. We both garden. We both blog. We’re both type A personalities. And although I have a little formal training, we both consider ourselves to be mostly self-taught cooks, inspired by our families, our travels and the people we’ve met along the way.
But as similar as we are, we’re still very different, and that’s exactly what you want in a friend. Similar enough to “get you,” but different enough to provide another outlook on life.
Emma is one of the smartest, friendliest and most thoughtful gals I’ve ever met. She is the kind of person I want to be more like, and I bet everyone that meets her feels the same way. Whenever I get caught up in the drama of the show, Emma is always there to remind me about what matters most in life (hint: its not a cooking show competition).
I was pretty hard on myself for not doing so hot in the past few episodes. I saw a little bit of negative feedback online and I beat myself up over it.
Emma has helped me to work through a lot of those weird emotions. And she taught me, through both pep-talks and example, that at the end of the day, none of that stuff matters.
And she’s right.
What matters in life are the people, places and experiences that make us happy and whole. That’s it.
I so admire how Emma has handled her exit from Food Network Star with the utmost grace and class. She has no regrets, and stands confident in her decisions to put on a Parisian accent, make interactive party food, and remind the world that we oftentimes sacrifice a life in order to satisfy a craving (see also The Importance of Rabbits by Thomas Keller).
She went home for being the leader of a team that came up short. But the bottom line is that she was the leader. She took the bull by the horns, and went for it, because that’s just how Emma rolls. She looks forward to the future, and pays no attention to the silly commentary from the peanut gallery.
Because, it doesn’t matter.
The droves of friends, family, and community that have come out of the woodwork to show their support. THEY matter.
The little girls who look up at me wide-eyed and star struck, exclaiming how they want to cook just like me when they grow up. THEY matter.
The husband who reminds me EVERY DAY how cool this is and what a wonderful and blessed REAL life we have together. HE matters.
Walking away from this experience with solid friendships and important life lessons. THAT really matters.
So as sad as I am to see my friend go, I can’t contain my excitement to be moving on to New York City, where we get to visit Food Network Studios, and go on the Rachel Ray Show.
I am still living out my biggest lifelong dream.
And THAT, right there, matters.