I am often asked how the Food Network found me. I have no idea, but I am glad they did!
I was working for the esteemed law firm, Marquis Aurbach Coffing, cooking lunch for all of the attorneys and staff, when the phone rang. Needless to say, I was shocked to hear that it was a representative of the Food Network asking me if I would be interested in competing on Chopped. It took me all of half a second to respond with a resounding, “YES!”
After running about like a little kid and jumping around in excitement, I managed to compose myself and finish out the day, barely. That evening, I filled out the application as requested. Right off the following morning, I received a call from the casting team in New York requesting that I make a trip to Los Angeles for an on camera interview the following weekend. After talking to my wife, Leah, we decided we would do anything they asked. I was not about to miss out on this! We packed a couple of bags and made the four-hour drive to Los Angeles. We arrived about an hour early to allow time for me to calm down from all the excitement and compose myself for the interview.
My appointment was set in a building full of the offices of famous producers and production companies. It was an awesome feeling to walk through the halls and see the posters of well-known shows and all of the names on the doors and know that I was possibly starting down a path that might one day put my face on one of those posters. When I finally arrived at my assigned room, I was greeted by one of the producers and given some paperwork to fill out.
I had about a fifteen minute wait for my turn, as there were other chefs being interviewed the same day. I could hear some of the interviews happening beyond the doors behind me. As you can imagine, that got my nerves going. While I sat and filled out the paperwork, I prayed. I prayed a lot! Soon the door opened, and the previous chef walked out. I wished him luck as he headed off down the hall. Then, I heard the sweet words I had been waiting for, “Phillip! Come on in; you’re next.”
Game time, I thought to myself. I walked into the room where I saw the camera and audio equipment, a small stool for me to sit on, and two people one was the producer and the other was controlling the audio.
The interview started, and I was asked a series of questions about everything from my personal life to a request for me to describe a couple of food dishes. I remember the producer saying to me, “Wow, you are glowing and are so animated when you talk about food.” What she didn’t know is that I could feel the “Holy Ghost goose bumps” the whole time I was in there. This feeling assured me that God was guiding the interview and that I shouldn’t worry. When the interview was over, the producer explained to me that, unfortunately, she would not be the one making the decision, but a team of producers back in New York would decide on the final lineup. And, it would take more than three months before I would hear anything.
What?! I have to wait that long?! Oh man, this is going to drive me nuts, I thought.
I walked out of that room feeling as though I had done a good job, but that didn’t stop me from analyzing my comments and thinking to myself, I should have said this…I should have said that. But, in the end, I knew it was all in God’s hands.
Weeks and months went by, and I still hadn’t heard a word. Many times I would say to myself and Leah how I wished they would call. What if they don’t choose me? Will I even know? So, I waited…and waited. Then one day, I was once again cooking for clients when I received the coveted email telling me I had been selected.