Fans of the reality cooking show MasterChef, can get ready to set sail on the first-ever “MasterChef” Cruise.
This cruise will be a culinary adventure through the Caribbean, hosted by “MasterChef” Judge Graham Eliot, “MasterChef” winners Christine Ha and Luca Manfe, “MasterChef Junior” winner Alexander Weiss, “MasterChef” Season 3 semi-finalist and KC native Becky Reams and “MasterChef” fan favorite Bri Kozior. Also included will be the winner of “MasterChef” Season 5, which is currently airing now! Catch up on all of the latest episodes here.
The cruise takes place November 8 – 15 aboard Holland America’s Westerdam ship and will feature intimate cooking demos, competitions, meet & greets, shore excursions and more. Ports include: Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands and Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
I have to admit I am a fan of cruises and have actually been on this exact ship and a few of the ports of call on a previous cruise and can assure you this will be an amazing time!
I am also a fan of the show and even tried out for the first season when they had a casting call in KC. I got a call back and went through some other hoops they required, but that is a far as I got. I have been watching every season since and of course with Becky being a local, I was rooting for her all throughout season 3.
I recently had the chance to chat with Becky about her MasterChef experience, whats in her fridge and future plans involving KC and more. Below is our Q & A with a few questions under a variety of categories.. I hope you enjoy learning more about Becky and join her on the MasterChef Cruise.
“MasterChef” Behind the Scenes
1. Did you have recipes available or were you able to bring you own?
We did not have recipes, but we were allowed to bring some cookbooks with us, to keep in our rooms and read during down time, to help us find inspiration, be inventive, etc.
2. Which celebrity chef gave you the most encouragement?
Graham, most definitely. I immediately related to him for some reason, and he mentored me the most during the show. Having said that, since the show I have seen Gordon several times, and just following his career and reading his books– he is a true inspiration. He started from zero and built an absolute empire, all the while never compromising his food. His passion for cooking is absolutely genuine and I respect him so so much.
1. How were you notified you would be invited to join the cruise?
I was shocked, to say the least, when I was invited to be a part of the cruise. It was something I had always thought about (and kind of dreamed about) to be a part of something so huge, as to be the face of the entire “MasterChef” series. Especially because I’ll be in such great company. I’ll be cooking alongside Luca and Christine, two “MasterChef” winners! Not to mention phenomenal people who I know well and have cooked and cried and laughed alongside. Also Alexander, whom I have communicated with on many occasions and who inspired everyone he meets with his unbelievable culinary mind at such a young age. Then Bri, whom I loved on the show last year and am so excited to meet! Needless to say, I’m honored to be involved and cannot wait to see all my “MasterChef” family again.
2. Is the evening entertainment going to be the cooking challenges?
The cruise is going to have so much fun stuff happening, it’s going to be constant. I myself have several cooking demos as do the other Chef guests. We will be teaching guests how to prepare/cook certain things, as well as having interactive cooking challenges and games. Honestly, it’s going to be a lot of fun, and very interactive for the guests.
3. Have you ever cruised before?
I have never cruised before!! Which only adds to my excitement. I am looking forward to this adventure. And as my dad always said, anything can be an adventure, you have to fill your life with them…new experiences.
1. Where did you grow up in Kansas City?
I grew up in Stillwell and Overland Park, KS.
2. What are a few of your favorite restaurants?
People never think of Kansas City as a culinary destination…but they’re wrong. KC has a really solid food culture. Not to mention excellent new spots opening all the time, that I haven’t even had the chance to try yet! Some of my favorites are nostalgic, and some are new tasty finds. I love Hayward’s BBQ, Rye, Blue Stem (same owners as Rye– Chef Colby and his wife are amazing chefs and super rad people). I also love The Rieger hotel, Julian (Chef Tio is awesome and a friend– I did a pop up there a few years back) and lastly J. Alexander’s, just because I’ve been going there since childhood–you can always go there for a big juicy steak and really tasty mashed potatoes.
3. I heard a rumor you would like open a restaurant in Kansas City, is that true?And if so any details you can share including type of cuisine, location, opening date etc…?
Haha, well you know I have mad love for my KC people…and I would love to feed them some contemporary American/Thai food… in a small setting, with really great music and cocktails… But that’s just speculation 🙂
4. Do you have any plans to come back to Kansas City for guest appearances anywhere?
I try to come back to KC any chance I get, but for now LA has been keeping me pretty busy. I’m hoping to come back in late August for some cooking and family.
Cooking and Career
1. What is in your fridge right now?
Spicy sausage, organic eggs, Boulevard Christopher Elbow Chocolate Ale (I found little mom and pop liquor store out here in LA, that sells Boulevard Kansas City Beer, which makes me very happy), Fage yogurt, miso paste, brown butter, opal basil, quinoa salad, and a lot of different kinds of mustard.
2. How do you define you cooking style?
I define my cooking style as contemporary American with strong Asian influences. I love down-home cooking, like my mom’s swiss steak. But I am also in love with Kimchi fried rice, Ramen with black garlic broth, Korean BBQ, Miso glazed anything… you get the picture. I use my favorite parts of all those cuisines, and pull them together. Like Miso devilled eggs, or Ramen broth with pulled pork and dumplings.
3. What are you currently doing career wise?
I’m currently cooking full time. I work with an awesome app where I teach people how to cook, via cooking videos, delivered in a beautiful, user friendly platform, available for iphone/ipad. It’s called Appetites. I also have cooking videos on You Tube, on the Appetites You tube channel, where I teach people fun and creative cooking tip/tricks/techniques. Things like, how to open a coconut, how to clean a crab, substitutes for common kitchen ingredients, and even profiling different ingredients, like peppers, mushrooms, and pastas. It’s a ton of fun, and really informative for viewers.
I also Food style for TV, primarily The Queen Latifah Show, which is a ton of fun, and contribute to their website regularly, with seasonal recipes and cooking tips.
Since I love being in the kitchen, I can’t stay away, and still also work part time at a great restaurant here in LA called The Church Key, under Chef Steven Fretz. It’s a great restaurant with a seasonal inventive menu—it’s a great place to eat and work, and I love that I continue to learn more and more each day. Being able to work under different far more experienced and seasoned Chefs like Kris Morningstar, Michael Cimarusti and Steven Fretz helps me to better understand the business and continue to learn and grow as a cook. I respect these people, as I do every chef in any restaurant immensely and feel humbled to share the kitchens they slaved over to create.
The network of chefs in Los Angeles runs deep, and I have been lucky enough to get to know many many cooks in this city, which is a pretty rad thing. One day when I have the opportunity to open my first restaurant I will be better prepared for success having spent the time now, putting in work, learning and apprenticing under such talent. The journey to becoming a chef is not something that happens over the course of 2 months, or 2 years… it’s a journey. A tough, arduous journey, but one that earns you respect and poise which you can get no other way than to just do it. You gotta put in that work. You can’t buy it, and you can’t fake it– other cooks can see through a hack faster than it takes to brunoise a shallot.
4. Tell us about some neat opportunities you have gotten to do since your appearance on “MasterChef”.
You could feasibly say that every culinary opportunity that I’ve had since “MasterChef” has been because of “MasterChef,” for one simple reason: “MasterChef” gave me the confidence to pursue a cooking career and leave my past career in dust. Once I got in front of those “MasterChef” judges, and they told me I had a knack for cooking, and this wasn’t a fluke, something snapped in my brain– I just committed to cooking. You have to.
Cooking professionally is not glamorous, it won’t make you rich, it’s not easy, it’s not pretty, it’s hard work, long hours, it beats you up, breaks you down, wears you out, separates you from your family and friends, and the hardest of all (for me) it’s not instantly gratifying…at first. But, there is always one moment for every cook, when you see the light, and something small happens that makes it all worthwhile. Your chef turns to you, after a long butt-kicking 5 hour service– you’re sweating in places you didn’t know you could sweat, you fingers are calloused from the grill, you have oil splatter burns on your forearms, your calves ache from being on your feet for 12 hours (all this before clean up and break down)… But the chef reaches across the line and high fives you, “nice work, you crushed it.” All worthwhile. That’s what cooking is– its unglamorous, but we (cook people) get a deeply satisfying feeling from creating beautiful, tasty food for folks. When I realized it was for me, I made the jump. I could never go back.
I wish to thank Becky for taking the time to answer my questions and wish her the best of luck on the upcoming cruise. I am hoping to save up some pennies so I can join the fun and hope you do to! For more information on the “MasterChef” Cruise visit the MasterChef Website.