My MasterChef Experience

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As everybody know, I’ve choosen from FOX as one of the top 100 Best Home Cooks in America!
Actually, I got an apron, so it’s TOP 40 out of 40,000 people!!!
How amazing it that?!

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To make the long story short, I’m Seonkyoung Longest.
I born and raised in South Korea, and I moved to the US 2009, because my love serves his country in the US Air Force.
I’m an artist. My major was drawing cartoon and belly dancing before coming to America, and now I’m a cook. Not just a good home cook, I’m a FANTASTIC and OUTSTANDING home cook. My cooking experience is only 3 years long, before- I didn’t even know how to boil an egg.

I started cooking because I was in serious depression since I moved to the states, that coming from different language, culture, people, food and no family or friends. If you are an International spouse, you know what I’m talking about. And everyone has their own story how they got over it. In my case, it was cooking. Cooking saved my life. It saved my relationship with my husband, Jacob and it saved myself. I was ready to turn and go back to Korea one point, I said “I want to go back home.” and he said “This is your home.”. That moment I realized, I have to stop acting like a crying baby and change something.

I started watching Food Network, because I didn’t have to comprehend every word to follow the actions of Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, Emeril, Babby Flay, Giada or Guy Fiery. They brought my life back with food. Their joy and love with food and willing to share with people inspired me so much, I started cooking. I still remember my first cookies, it was Barefoot Contesa- Ina Garcia’s recipe, sugar cookies. The second cookies was Paula Deen’s peanut butter cookies(So simple and easy!). My first attempt of biscuit was Giada’s pancheta biscuit(I had to substituted with bacon, I couldn’t afford pancheta), my hubby loved it. And the recipe is goes on and on and on…. now, I’m standing here create my own recipes and share with people, doing exactly same thing who saved my life- the Food Network Stars. I want to give back to people. Who knows, I might save some one’s life one day. :-)

I’ve been sharing my food and recipes on the internet for about 2 1/2 years. Since then, I met lots of awesome people, who understand why I do things I do. I never can thank enough to them. I’m talking about you! YOU, who read my blog and personal stories, watch my cooking videos and supporting me all around. And some of you guys recommend to me to attend a FOX TV show, MasterChef. Because you all believed that I would do great on the show. And it really made me to take another step towards to my dream, so THANK YOU so much. :-)

Over all, it was a great experience. I went to Nashville, TN(5 hours away from my home) for the very first open call. I just flew back from WA to Nashville and Jacob brought all the cooking tools from home for me, so I could cook at the hotel room. I made Bulgogi Kimbap(two colors- one is regular black seaweeds, and another one inside out- white.) and Korean Seafood Soup. I was a VIP attender, but they forgot to give me the VIP name card. It’s alright, because everything went how it should be. They loved my food and personality so I had to get ready for camera interview- which is the next day. During the open call, 3/4 of people who were with me gone already. We had to get another hotel room to stay in Nashville one more night and we were the happiest people in the Nashville for sure!

The next day, I finally did camera interview, but I wasn’t happy about it. Because my funky funny English was keep bothered me during the interview. They want me to say this and that, but I couldn’t say a perfect sentences they wanted from me- so I started frustrated. Anyways, after all on the way home after the open call and the camera interview, I wasn’t happy at all. But what could I do? Just wait until they tell me if I made it through or not.

We made a home video to send them, and waited for awhile… I guess every time they do different process, they keep cutting more people out. I received phone call many times questioning about my job at the chapel, but everything went well. I finally received a phone saying – “You made to the semi-final!” WOOT~WOOT~! I was so happy. :-)

So they were calling everybody back to the big cities where they did open call, for more interviews and some paperwork… Unluckily, they didn’t comeback to Nashville, I guess it wasn’t enough people or something. So we had to go to Dallas, which was the closest one from MS – about 10 hours driving. We made it, and did everything we supposed to do that they asked us to do. So far, we spent too much money just for the open call and interviews, because everything we had to travel and stay at the hotel rooms. But we didn’t care, because it was a great movement towards to our dream.

We had to wait for a long time again to hear from them, and I finally made another cut, they started sending us lots of paperwork to sign, the contract. It’s total about 50 or more pages, we had to read(or Jacob had to read), agree and sign.

Another killing waiting time…… Now they told me to go to a hospital they choose for me, check everything they need to know. And then FINALLY we received a phone call at a bookstore, that I’m one of the top 100 contestants of MasterChef season 4!!!!  It all happened from Oct 2012 to Jan 2013. I was so happy just to made that far!! Top 100 out of 40,000 people?! Come on!!

When I arrived in LA, CA- I felt like it was dream! How long did I wait for coming to LA for a national TV cooking show…. well, not that long but I was excited!! LOL

What I made for the 3 judges- Gordon Ramsey, Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich to get the apron was the most popular Korean dish, Bibimbap.

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This is the most similar looking bibimbap I served to the Judges. Of same stone pot, almost same veges, but I had a lot more options of veges from CA grocery stores, so I used more colorful and Asian veges that day.

Oh, man. When I was cooking front of real TV camera, story guy keep asking me questions, hot lights and more… All of the atmosphere was everything I was dreaming about… I really felt like a star chef! I felt alive, nothing can stop me and FULL of ENERGY!! I mean, I’ve never done it like that at my kitchen yet, I don’t know why. Maybe because of the live audience. lol That was one of the greatest moment I’ve ever had. When I was chopping, the culinary team’s leader- Sandee(She is the leader of culinary team and working with all kinds of cooking shows- like Masterchef, Top Chef and more.) told me that I have to chop something front of the judges. And she saw me flambé my mushrooms(it was an accident- You know how I look professional in the kitchen, even though it’s my first time doing it…), then she told me again with a funny face “You’ve got to do that front of them!”  hahaha

Right before I was walking in to the MasterChef door, she asked me if I wanted to keep the vegetables I kept. I said yes, and she told me “You won’t need those, you gonna be here for awhile.”. WOW, REALLY?! It felt SO great that Sandee told me so, because she was one of the culinary experts!!! I was so proud of myself. :-)

Oh, man- I don’t really remember clearly when I was in the judges room.

I parked my cart, and Gordon Ramsey said I have 5 minutes to start, so I started. One funny story; Gordon Ramsey asked my name and I told him. And he pronounce it perfectly?! WTF I couldn’t believe it?! I know he practiced, because no one can’t do it if you are not Korean. LMAO!

Anyways, my 5 minutes over and I served my best bibimbap I could make that day. Gordon came down, told me how bibimbap should be and asked if my bibimbap has it all? I said yes. He didn’t like how confidence I am. Whatever. He told me he could smell all the fragrance where he standing and then asked me to mix the bibimbap for him, and I did with my honor and a fork. :-)  He tasted it and he said……

“It brings me back to Korea. It’s delicious!”

YES!!! Oh, yeah, I told ya! LOL

Then Graham Elliot came down ate, he told me calm down and breath…. lol
Next was Joe  Bastianich, ate my bibimbap…. I really don’t remember what he said at that moment.. LOL

But the funny thing was, all 3 of them asked me how I made the bibimbap sauce. Inside of me like, “I’m not telling you! I know you gonna use it at your restaurant!” LMAO!!

Another funny story; Graham Elliot tried to make a joke- it’s my Seul food(which is sounds like SOUL food…) and I didn’t get the joke, so I didn’t laugh. One of producer yelled at me, “Graham made a joke, you should laugh!”………………… So, I did a funky fake laugh. LMAO!!!!

Joe said it was the best bibimbap he ever had, and gave me a big “Yes”.
Garaham Elliotsaid he will give me a big “Yes”
Gordon Ramsey said, I’m a real deal, I have a great knife skill and he could see how confidence I am from the door when I started walking toward them. And he gave me a HUGE “YES”!

Yes, I got 3 yeses, I got the apron!!! I hugged with Gordon Ramsey, OMG and hugged with Gragam Elliot too! OMG! But more surprising thing happened while I was hugging them, Joe  Bastianich went down to my bibimbap and started eating it again saying “It’s really delicious, your husband is lucky.” So I gave him an awkward handshaking hug too… lol

Oh, man since I got the apron, I started run, run, run. Run to Jacob.945304_629399207087600_1518697689_n

I couldn’t wait to see his face and hug him. I was crying whole entire way to see him.

Oh, that moment… finally the door is opened and I finally see his nervous face… and then BIG HUG!!!

I knew everyone is recognized me as a competitor since they saw me cooking, Jacob told me that he saw some of ‘em are scared of who they have to fight for the title.

 

 

If you watched the show tonight you know what happened.

I didn’t make the top 19.

I know, it’s sad. It WAS sad, not anymore.
There a few reasons I “Couldn’t” make MasterChef USA.  One of the reasons is I’m not an American citizenship. I mean, think about it. Is it make sense to you? A Korean girl, lived in America for 4 years and fighting for the title of America’s MasterChef? I know it’s free country but there are things that makes sense and don’t.  If I can say one more reason to you guys, that I didn’t have rival.

I believe something better is waiting on me. I really truly believe. That’s why I could leave LA with my big smiley face. Some of people who made top 19 probably thought I was pathetic, trying so hard not to cry. But I wasn’t really sad. I didn’t even cry a bit.

Why?

Because I learned so much from this first experience and now I know what to expect from reality TV show. Now I know how pull my story better front of camera and I don’t have to bring tons of clothes to wear, because they buy for you!(The pink dress wasn’t mine). I’m SO ready for another cooking show to apply and ROCK it!!

 

And luckily, someone else saw my potential, they connected and asked me if I’m interested in their show. I said “Of F’ing course!” What smart people!

My MasterChef journey is over for now, but there are so many opportunities are waiting on me.

I can’t wait!!

 

Thank you all so much for your amazing support and love, I really can’t thank enough.
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you and Thank you again.

You guys are the BEST!!!!

I love you all!!

XOXO

 

P.S I know lots of you guys wanted to see me cooking of the show, I understand. Because I wanted to see it too! But there is a few reasons they didn’t. The biggest reason they didn’t show me cooking? Because when I cook, I don’t look like a home cook. I look like a professional chef, and they didn’t want that. Also it will make top 18 look bad. LMAO!

 

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22 comments

  1. Christy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I’ve followed your youtube channel for awhile and have learned so much from you. You are truly my inspiration to go out there and do what I love.

  2. meilani says:

    Oh, Seonkyoung, I am so proud of you as an Asian home cook. You did a lot and I can feel your passionate in your cooking. I love cooking too. Both of us got the same situation which you learn and cook for your husband, I learn and cook for my children. Before that I even did not know how to cook a bowl of rice perfectly ;p . Keep moving with your passionate, your journey of cooking will be more and more FANTASTIC!!!! (Warm regards from The Tropical Small Island in Indonesia)

  3. Cory says:

    Congratulations on making it to the top 40! Though I was looking forward to seeing you cook, knowing that you have learned and gained from the experience (and you getting invited to a new show! So excited and can’t wait to hear news about that soon!) makes me excited to see what else you have in store for your fans. Looking forward to more :]

  4. bo sueyoshi says:

    When one door closes, a better one will open! I believe there are greater things in store for you!! Just keep trying for these roles. Get your face out in public so that you are recognized more. Check food network. They have latin chefs, Japanese chefs, Chinese chefs. I think there is a star out there with Seonkyoung Longest on it!!!

  5. Ravi says:

    Don’t be disheartened for not making it among top 19. I’m sure, even it was for short duration, you had good experience. And this will open up new opportunities for you.
    Both my wife and I were really looking forward to watch you cooking at the show, even on delayed telecast in Singapore. We will keep continue supporting you and continue to try out your dishes at our place. Thank you & Cheers!!

  6. Gerardo Ivan Morales says:

    Hahaha, this was such and awesome experience to read about. I’ve been a fan of the show since the beginning and have wondered what goes on behind the scenes. I was wondering if the citizenship thing was going to be an issue, and I kept telling myself “She must have been cut for some other reason than her food because I’ve made a few things of yours and it’s delicious!” I think you would have made a VERY strong competitor. I can understand the rival thing too, because although it’s a cooking show, they want drama. Plus, like you said, I think you would have given the competition a professional run for their money. By they way, what did you make with the lamb if I may ask? It was killing me that they didn’t show you or come by your station to ask you questions.

    It really sounds like you’ve come a long way with your confidence and your determination to do what you love. I admire your strength and your understanding that you are still at the beginning of your long and amazing culinary journey. You are an inspiration. You have a fan for life and the day you open a restaurant or I can have the pleasure to taste your cooking, I will find a way to be there! Cheers to your future! :)

    ~ Ivan

    • Seonkyoung says:

      This is so sweet, thank you so much Ivan. :-) I couldn’t hold up strongly all by myself, but with people like you. I really feel blessing. Thank you so much!!! About the lamb.. I was thinking make a video of the dish I made on the show, so everyone can see what I made… Because I was very very proud of myself with the dish I made. :-)

  7. karl says:

    Be honest, did they actually tell you that you can’t be Master Chef USA because you are not a U.S. citizen? I thought the show was stupid when I saw them disqualifying people before they were finished. Lots of drama like having contestants propose to their girlfriends. Who would really make a dish with breast milk in a national contest?
    why do you want to hang around superficial, insincere, and phony people in Hollywood? You’re better than that.
    To me, the Virginia Tech professor was the smart one. He got free publicity for his robotic projects on national TV. fyi, I went to Pudue as well. :)

    • Jean says:

      Yeah I find the US citizen thing a little strange. Wouldn’t they have screen that when you entered and before or after you were qualified?

  8. Jackie says:

    Seonkyoung you’re amazing!! You looked beautiful on the show and I’ve been watching your youtube channel, blog, Facebook ever since you started cooking. I could see how far you’ve come over the years, especially on your plating and presentation.
    I was on a reality show once too, and it’s definitely a lot more fake than real, so I understand, some people still in the competition can’t cook and are only in it because they bring DRAMA. I also agree with the not U.S. citizen thing, if you spoke perfect English, you’d be on the show for a VERY long time. I mean you’re beautiful, young, talented, unique, and you have so much potential.
    I will continue to support you! This is just practice, there are so many other opportunities for you in the future. Keep up the amazing work! I’m almost positive we will all see you on the big screen soon.

  9. Amee says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I was reading half-way and had tears in my eyes. Congrats and best of luck to you!

  10. Mai Tong says:

    I never cared much for these kinds of TV shows; however, that all changed when I found out tonight that you are on MasterChef! The only reason why I will be keeping up with this is because of you. Best of luck to you, Seongkyung! Much love <3

  11. Susie says:

    What a wonderful story! You should have had a meet up for your fans from the Los Angeles area, I would have gone to show my support. :)

    I am glad you learned from this experience and also got feed back on your cooking from pros. You hubs is indeed a lucky man and you are a wonderfully talented cook.

  12. steve mize says:

    Fantastic story….those chefs are technically amazing but ALL the masterchef ironchef this chef that chef shows cook with anger …always a race ….the food has bad energy….how can you enjoy ??…….your yourube video are happy passionate,,,Seoulful examples of joyful food being made…..the food has positive energy…..keep at it and congrats to you…..go see Chef….great movie….ok now i will try kimchi tamales..start from scratch …peace

    • Seonkyoung says:

      I totally agree with you!! You are right, when I’m happy seems like my food is extra delicious! I love the word you used “Seoulful”. :-) Good luck in making Kimchi tamale! Wish I could taste it!!

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