Then while competing at the World Food Championships last November, and well-timed too to sooth wounds from my by-a-margin loss there, I got the call. I made it! They wanted me. ME!! My knees literally buckled. I squealed in delight. And then I talked my husband's ear off about it for the next two weeks because he was the only one I was allowed to tell. They picked ME to be on Food Network!! And, not for a 1-episode battle. They picked me to be on All-Star Academy! If I'm good enough, I might get 8 full weeks with the pros!
The turnaround time was short. Two weeks from "you made it" to my red-eye flight leaving for NYC. As I walked into the hallowed halls of the Food Network's studios, I felt a wave of emotion so palpable, so completely all-encompassing, it was as if I had won the PowerBall (or jumped out of an airplane!) I was awestruck. I was there. This home cook, who would have loved to follow her dream of becoming a certified Chef, was standing there inside the very pinnacle of cookery, the Food Network.
Ah! The test kitchen! I catch a glimpse as we walk by. How many incredible recipes have been created in that kitchen by the Chefs and FN stars whose photos adorn the hallway walls of the network. To be there, knowing that they too at some point had walked these hallways just as I was now was at once inspiring and, slightly terrifying. But that twinge of fear was only momentary and soon gave way to giddy euphoria.
Like my fellow competitors I am here for one reason, to win. To take the title and the $50,000 prize. But I am also here to learn, to work under these Chef idols and to take my personal skills to a new level. What an opportunity!
People like me have dreams like this. We don't always share them openly because quite frankly the odds are not in favor of them ever coming true. But this time! This time, my dream is being realized... and with every ounce of who I am and who I want to be I am going to do my best to keep it alive!
I am a very fierce competitor. I am here to win. I am a contestant on All-Star Academy!
*Stay tuned for more All-Star Academy stories coming soon.