I’m off to the FINALS!!!

Yesterday was a very exciting day (and carried a lot of good stress too!)  I had to ask myself, when was the last time I had felt the adrenaline rush to perform an art in front of people??  TOO long.

Yesterday, I had participated in the semi-finals of the Southern Cooking Competition and it was an amazing experience.  We had to arrive at Johnson & Wales University at 9am and set up our stations.  I thought my nerves were frazzled then, but wait till I tell you what happens later. First of all, being able to cook inside of  J&W, was an honor!  My fellow competitors and I all agreed that felt out of our element being there at J&W.  The commercial grade kitchen, the big convection ovens, the sounds, everything.  Very intimidating!

Lights, camera, ACTION!

Yes, next comes the camera crews.  They had attached a microphone to my collar and I had to speak on camera about what I’m going to make and how I feel about being there, etc.  All I could think about is “don’t screw up!!”  Granted, editing – thank you Lord for that! – can be done, but I was still nervous.  I think my hands were shaking as soon as they were finished interviewing me. HA!!  After everyone had completed their interview, we had been introduced to the staff of FYC and some J&W chefs as well, and then we got to begin!

And they’re OFF!

And we were all SO happy about that… enough cameras, let’s cook!! We were given and hour and 15 minutes (we lost 15 minutes to camera time – so that raised the bar a bit!)  It reminded me of Top Chef, without all of the hype!  Or so I thought, and then I see News 14 Carolina walk in. AHHHHHHHH  Thankfully, they had caught an interview with me at a half-way point, so I wasn’t overwhelmed with time, but I was still nervous!  Perform, and put on my smiling face at the same time?  How do people do this on a daily basis?  Props to you all that face cameras everyday.  I’m sure some of the “wow factor” wears off.  But you are performing nonetheless.  I did find the more I talked on camera, the easier it was becoming.  And I was told that News 14 had put a clip of me on TV last night!

Time is up!

Everyone made it on time for the display and tasting/judging and it wasn’t this mad dash to the finish line either.  From what I could tell, my fellow competitors were calm about it.  Everyone’s dishes looked tasty!

Showdown

Oh my, can I explain to you how my BP shot up at this point?  I didn’t realize the judging would be taken so seriously! Yet, I’m glad it was.  After all, the winners are going up on stage in a month to show the public their masterpieces.  All of us competitors had to wait out of the room (that had windows to see inside) while one person at a time, had to go in, explain their food and how the recipe came to life.  Also, what made it unique and tasty.  I wanted to slink away from fear on this one.  Cameras again were rolling.  No pressure!!  When it was my turn, I swear a sense of calm came over me and I was ready!  I spoke about my food, and the judges enjoyed.  When I was finished, I walked out of that room and thought, “where did that eloquent Andrea come from?  I’ve never heard myself speak so smoothly!?”  I had to laugh at that.  God is good…he came through for me on the most intense part.

Results at last!!!

We were all called in and congratulated on a great job.  We were very relieved it was over!!  Honestly, I had NOT expected to hear my name called to be the winner of the dessert division.  Yet, there it was on paper, the judges results, I had WON!!!!

So friends, you will see me again.  On stage, in public, on TV, discussing this Pennsylvania Dutch style Apple Cobbler to you all.  Come join the fun on September 11th in Charlotte, NC at the Time Warner Cable BBQ & Blues festival where you will see three of us up on stage for the final showdown!

To see some pictures from others:

Find Your Center‘s Pictures

Stacey Simm‘s Blog

Cheers!!

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