For her “audition dish,” Hollie Dorethy created a hickory-smoked chicken ravioli with slow-simmered black beans cooked with toasted cumin, bacon and fresh peppers topped in a creamy chipotle sauce with peppers and cheese.
By Patty Montagno
Staff Writer, SacheNews.com
Hollie Dorethy said she could feel her heart racing as she walked up to the security line at DFW Airport. She stayed close to her husband Brad and 2-year-old daughter Gianna as she made her way through the long line.
After a tearful goodbye to her family, she took a seat at the gate to wait for her flight to Los Angeles. The Wylie resident was starting the first leg of a soon-to-be “life- changing journey” as a contestant on a reality TV show. Dorethy was chosen from thousands of hopefuls to compete on “MasterChef,” the new food competition show from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, the mastermind behind the popular “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Kitchen Nightmares.”
“MasterChef,” which is a hit in England and Australia, premiers July 27 on FOX. The show will feature the best of America’s everyday home cooks participating in a series of elimination rounds.
The winner will receive $250,000 cash and the chance to publish a personal cookbook.
Contestants will be judged by Ramsay, restaurateur and wine maker Joe Bastianich and Chef Graham Elliot.
“In January a friend e-mailed me about Dallas auditions for the show,” Dorethy said. “The casting call guidelines were very specific stating that only amateur chefs should try out. I thought it would be fun so I called the production company.”
Dorethy is familiar with food competitions. In 2007 she won the title of Stuffing Queen on “Good Morning America” with TV Chef Emeril Lagasse. She won the contest for her Down Home Italian Dressing which combined her southern roots and her husband’s Italian heritage.
The “MasterChef” producer told Dorethy she would have five minutes to prepare, assemble and impress the judges with a signature dish. The call was for 8 a.m. at the Sur La Table restaurant in Dallas.
“I prepared hickory-smoked chicken with slow-simmered black beans cooked with toasted cumin, bacon and fresh peppers made into a savory ravioli,” she said. “The sauce was a rich creamy chipotle sauce of butter, cream and smoked jalapenos with just a hint of Texas heat. I garnished it with Aleppo pepper and shaved Manchego cheese.”
Armed with two large Thermos bottles that contained her dish, some plates, cheese and a grater, Dorethy woke at dawn the next morning to get to the audition as early as she could.
“It was a freezing January day,” she said. “It was so cold I was afraid my sauce would separate. I registered and was
number 47. During registration I said that I spoke to one of the producers that week. The girl saw my name on a list and said that I had been pre-screened and bumped me up to number five.”
When Dorethy was allowed in the building she said the auditioning line was “around the block.”
“Once inside I soon discovered that number five meant the fifth group,” she said. “They finally called my group, and I was given a spot at the counter. After a few seconds someone yelled ‘go’ and we were off. I opened the two Thermos bottles, saw the steam and breathed a sigh of relief. I plated the dish and even brought a second cheese course. Pairings are very important to me.”
Dorethy said all during that time cameras filmed her every move.
“It wasn’t a calming time,” she said. “The whole time the judges, who were local chefs, kept asking me a thousand questions. They didn’t give us time to breathe. I guess they wanted to see if we could think on our feet.”
Dorethy said those five minutes went by in the blink of an eye.
“Then someone said ‘stop’ and of course we did,” she said. “The judges came by and they all looked at my dishes, took a bite and simply walked away. I went crazy. No emotion, no comments, not a word. Oh, well, I thought everything was over.”
As Dorethy started to pack up she was given a card and told to go the the “exit lady.”
The “exit lady” told her to be at the Mansion on Turtle Creek the following day at 9 a.m. She had made it to the second round of auditions. Although she would not have to cook, she would have to impress the producers with her on-camera presence.
Dorethy spent the rest of the day and most of the night trying to decide on an outfit for the next audition.
“I decided to be very ‘Texas,’” she said. “I wore my beautiful rhinestone cowgirl belt and a gorgeous pair of python boots adorned with swarovski crystals. It was supposed to be a short audition, but I was interviewed for about an hour and a half. I was tired but felt really good when it was over.”
Dorethy soon discovered she was accepted to audition number three. That profiling audition tested her stamina and analyzed how she would deal with certain situations.
“I’ll never forget those words. ‘We’ll be in touch,’” she said. “Now it was a case of hurry up and wait.”
For the next month and a half the producers routinely called Dorethy, always asking if she was was still available and interested.
Finally on March 6 Dorethy got the call.
“You’ve made it. We want you to to fly to Los Angeles! We’re sending you a plane ticket. You’ll need three cocktail dresses, solid colors are good, closed-toed shoes and lots of casual wear. Oh, and by the way – you’ve got to be here in four days and can’t tell anyone about this.
“It was like everything that happened in three months came together in a few moments,” she said. “I was in overdrive. I don’t even remember how I pulled everything together in four days.”
Dorethy said she spent the whole plane flight to Los Angeles trying to contain her emotions. One minute she felt overwhelming excitement. The next sadness at the thought of being away from her beloved family for so long.
The plane landed. Dorethy retrieved her bags, dialed a special, confidential number from her cell phone and stood on the curb of Los Angeles International Airport waiting to wisked away to her new “home.”
Dorethy took a deep breath and looked up at the smog filled sky.
“Let the journey begin,” she said.
At the conclusion of “MasterChef” we will do a follow- up story.