I was in Chicago about an hour away from teaching a class on that oh-so-delicious ingredient, foie gras, when the Elves called me again asking if I could come out to LA. This was on a Friday. I got approval from my managers at The FCI, flew back to NY on Sunday, and was on a plane to LA on Tuesday morning. Upon my arrival, I sat down with the very sassy Exec Producer, Shauna, to discuss what my role would be in the coming weeks. Because of the rules fiasco with the Camp Glucose challenge, they wanted my help with making the rules clear to the contestants, and also developing some of the parameters for the upcoming challenges.
I could give them a perspective that was missing at the time, as a chef and also as someone who had gone through the process as a contestant. I'd be working with the existing culinary production squad, led by cookbook writer and culinary dynamo JoAnn Cianciulli. I first laid eyes on the remaining contestants while Thanksgiving dinner was happening at the lofts.
Let me start by saying, like, I am not a mentor to the contestants. Andy's last blog about why Tom is not a Tim Gunn persona should make it clear to everyone why there is no mentor on the show at all. I will probably never be a judge on the show either, because of my role with the production company. Therefore, I don't need to be any of the contestants' advisor, mentor, and/or friend. I don't even have to like them. But let me remind you that after time, they became like my adopted children, even though communication between production and the cast is kept to a minimum (that's why they call it "reality TV"). It's the fishbowl effect.