Over the years of writing my food blog, I’ve had a handful of opportunities come along for the chance to appear on televised cooking segments. The first, which was an opportunity to be a contestant on Rachael Ray’s Great Philly Grill-Off competition, almost seemed promising. I made it to the second phase of the phone interviews, but unfortunately the adventure ended there. Not long after that, my wife and I were both approached to interview for a potential Food Network competition show, featuring married couples in the kitchen. That opportunity went as far as a Skype interview with the Food Network, but it seemed as if that project fizzled out all together soon after that. Seeing how a lot of hope and excitement could quickly lead to nothing, I stopped pursuing opportunities to appear on TV. By this time, my food blog was really starting to take off. My recipes were being shared in both the DelCo Times and in the Philadelphia RowHome Magazine, I had a regular guest spot on Lorraine Ranalli’s Cucina Chatter radio program, and would occasionally appear with the Cucina Chatter cast on The Heron’s Nest video podcast with host Philip Heron. Considering that this food blog was all just a passionate hobby of mine, things were really working out well for me. Shooting for a spot on TV was never really part of my plan, and I was totally fine with that.
Just around this time last year, our dear friend Karen (who also happens to be a member of our extended family…South Philly Cousins!) had sent me a lead for a new cooking show based in Philly, that was looking for a host. Karen, who has always been one of my biggest supporters since day one, thought that the opportunity would be great for me. Being that I had started my podcast at this point (which I will be continuing with, I promise), along with the time that I spent on the radio and on the Heron’s Nest, I felt that I may have a chance at this. I was becoming more comfortable with actually talking about food, and was discovering my voice, so why not? I sent in the application, kept my fingers crossed, and just kept on moving along. Time went by, and the application process just became another thing of the past.
Fast forward to July…
Thinking that the opportunity to host a local cooking show was all just another pipe dream, I was both surprised and elated to be contacted in early July for an audition. I had never been on an audition, so I had no idea what to expect, and surprisingly enough my nerves were very much under control. When I showed up at the appointed location, I was asked if I was auditioning to be a host or a contestant. Contestant? I didn’t know that this was even an option! While hosting a cooking show would be fun, actually being a contestant on a cooking show was way more in my wheel house. I explained this to the person at the front desk, and she agreed to ask the people running the auditions if I could interview as a contestant. When it was my turn to head into the audition area, I was told that I would be auditioning as a contestant. Yes!
Image courtesy of 4 Lion Productions
I walked in with coolness and confidence. Again, I never auditioned for anything, and I felt that I had absolutely nothing to lose here. I was told to stand in front of a video camera, under a bunch of hot studio lights. The set-up looked exactly like an audition scene from a TV reality series. My goodness, this was really happening! Seated behind a table in front of me were three gentleman (including producers Chris Kelly and Paul Tucker of 4 Lion Productions) who proceeded to ask me about myself, my cooking style and other various food/cooking-related questions. Surprisingly, I felt very comfortable answering each question that was fired at me. I made sure to reference my food blog as often as I could…after all, it was the passion and dedication to my food blog that brought me to this situation in the first place. Deep rooted family values and the goal of sharing my knowledge and experience with my readers has always been my main focus, and I made sure to stress this while answering the questions. The audition took all of about 10 minutes, but when it was over I felt very confident and happy with the answers that I gave. After a round of cordial handshakes and thanks to the team that hosted me that day, I walked out of the audition feeling like a winner. The gentlemen who interviewed me had nothing but the kindest words to say to me as I left, which was the perfect ending to this unique experience. Regardless of whether I was called back for another audition, or whatever the next step would be, I was given the opportunity to speak truthfully and honestly about my passionate hobby..and it was all captured on film. This was already a crowning achievement for me. I drove back to meet my family for Sunday dinner, and after sharing the highlights of the day’s events, I was brought back to the beautiful reality of making Sunday dinner with my kids, my wife and my wife’s family. Life was good.
Fast forward to mid-December…
Once again, a few months went by and I never heard anything more on the audition. As I just said, having the opportunity to audition alone was both gratifying and an honor…but I did wonder if anything would ever come of this? Well, I would soon get my answer as I listened to a message that was left on my phone…”Hi Dominic, we’re calling to let you know that you have been selected to be a contestant on the pilot episode of Best Dish!”
Next, I’ll be sharing with you my experience of taping the pilot episode of Best Dish. It was an amazing opportunity, and aside from getting to cook on camera, I also got to spend the day with a group of super talented people. You’ll be able to read all about it right here. Stay tuned!