First and most important: Congratulations to Jeff. As I’ve said in interviews and everywhere else, his food is wonderful and his show is appointment viewing for me. I’ve already programmed my DVR to remind me (cute, Tivo has it listed as “FNS Season 7 Winner Show” to not spoil the surprise). As I watched FNS, his sandwich concept won me over as a great way to showcase cultures and experiment with food – two goals I embrace and that I know Jeff is serious about. And as Jeff and I have connected outside of the competition, my respect for him has grown. He also has a fabulous wife who seems to suffer no fools, an indicator of a man’s good character.
Anyone who has visited my website knows that every week, a few days after Food Network Star airs, I post my thoughts about the show. I’ll miss doing it now that the show is over.
Some people have expressed surprise that there was tension between Jeff and me shown on the reunion show, and that I didn’t handle it well. Genuine apologies to anyone who was disappointed by my stammering and not hugging. I imagine it’s very difficult to condense thousands of hours of footage (per episode) into a one-hour show that follows a coherent storyline. It’s probably like turning War and Peace into a movie: You simply can’t include all of the subplots and nuances, even if the storyline is generally the same. I ask that disappointed people consider that the situation is more nuanced than an hour affords.
My stammering at being asked about Jeff’s show reflected my surprise at the question – it was literally the first thing I was asked when I walked in the room and I just didn’t expect it. I stammered because I was trying to figure out how to answer it, given that Susie and I were very good friends. That’s why I said, “It’s tough to separate the personal from the professional.”
My previous FNS blog post lists things I learned from the show. Before I posted it, I deleted two things from that list, because I thought the post was too long. Those were:
1. When life gets crazy, don’t shut down, open up.
2. It’s never too late to be the person you always meant to be.
Funny, because those are two of the most important things I learned from watching the reunion and the finale. I guess somehow I knew I hadn’t really learned those lessons and needed to save them for this post. Being afraid and closed off is one of the reasons why I’m not interested in hugging as my dream dies before my eyes. Being afraid and closed off is why I gave a performance in Episode One that Bobby Flay (now one of my favorite people) called “mediocre.” Only when I decided that I wanted to really open up, be courageous, and be myself could I deliver a performance that would get me to the Final Four.
But old habits don’t die easy, which brings us to Lesson Two – I am still trying to be the person I always meant to be, including being someone who opens up rather than closing down. Hence this post. I am still growing and learning, and hope to do that until the day I die. And it is the flat-out craziest thing in the world that it took a reality show to help me understand that. For everyone who became supporters throughout the show, THANK YOU! I promise, the best is yet to come.