PLAINFIELD – Competing as one of the best home cooks in the United States is fitting when you grow up enjoying and preparing home-cooked meals.
But former Plainfield resident Diana Bilow might never have auditioned for the seventh season of Fox’s “MasterChef” if her roommate hadn’t insisted she do it.
“It made me a little proud that someone I cooked for on a regular basis thought I could be successful cooking on TV,” said Bilow, a server and burlesque dancer now living in Chicago.
Bilow and 39 other contestants competed in Los Angeles for the “MasterChef” title, a cookbook deal and the $250,000 grand prize, according to a news release from the show’s management company.
“MasterChef” is hosted and judged by world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay and judged by Christina Tosi, the news release stated. The new season of the show premieres at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Bilow said her childhood home was a “cooking place.” By the time Bilow was 13, she was cooking grilled pork chops and glazed carrots for her siblings – food Bilow called “suburban mom cooking.”
At 14, Bilow was working as a server. As she became exposed to new foods and ways to prepare them, she became more adventurous in the kitchen – especially when she began living on her own at age 19 and cooking for her roommates.
“Burgers and fries weren’t cutting it anymore,” she said.
Bilow said she experimented with Mexican and Mediterranean cuisines. She loved the idea of taking people on a journey through food, adapting recipes to suit the American palate.
“My signature is rack of lamb with gnocchi, little creative twists with classics from different cultures,” Bilow said.
Bilow said her roommate, a Ramsay fan, hooked Bilow on “MasterChef.” They learned about auditions watching last season’s finale. The roommate insisted Bilow had to try.
Bilow said she felt a little disheartened when she saw the audition crowds. She hadn’t expected that many people. To Bilow’s astonishment, she quickly moved through the various levels.
“Two days after that, I was signing contracts,” she said.
Bilow said participating in MasterChef was the best experience of her life. The amount of food knowledge she acquired from Ramsay and Tosi, as well as from her fellow competitors, was invaluable, she added.
“It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” Bilow said. “I have friends from all around the country now.”
WHEN TO WATCH
WHAT: Seventh season of Fox’s “MasterChef”
WHEN: Premieres 7 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: Fox TV Network