Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Everything I Ever Needed To Know, I Learned On Chopped

**Welcome, Camryn Rhys!**

Whether you watch Top Chef, or The Next Iron Chef, or Chopped, if you watch competitive cooking shows, first of all, you are a smart person. Cooking competition shows are the best of all things: reality TV, cooking show, competition. Not only is it addictive, but it is a microcosm of life.

What you see in competitive cooking is the absolute essence of humanity. You've got your Girl Who's In Over Her Head. This girl has low self-esteem, she talks negatively about herself, she doesn't believe in her own food, she makes excuses, and then she wonders why she's not winning. She shows flashes of genuine brilliance, but those flashes are covered up quickly by an almost uncanny fear of success. 

Then, you've got your Playboy Jerk Who Thinks He's God's Gift. He might be European, he's certainly single, he flirts with everything, he wears shirts that open at the collar... and hang there... and hang there. Just like in life, this guy is not a winner. If you take a poll of only female attendees, he might just win Mr. Congeniality, but he's not really husband material. Or champion material. Besides, he'd rather flirt than win anyway.

Also hiding out in there is the Underacheiver Who is Oblivious to Their Suckageness. This person will often talk a big game, but you're probably not going to remember their name in the end because they probably get eliminated right away. They always think they know more than everyone in the room, they "know" they're the best chef here, and they make rookie mistakes, but they're not willing to admit they do *anything* wrong. These people are the bane of your existence, if you're a fan of the show, because they ruin the vibe for everyone when they stick around. 

Then, you've got some easy categories, like The Hot One, The Smart One, The Melancholy One, The Weird One, The Clown, etc. It wouldn't take long, inside one episode, to pinpoint where everyone belongs. I often find myself looking at the people around me, putting them into categories like this. Life is just so similar, no matter where you go.

Beyond the cast, there's this concept of trial by fire. Everyone goes through it. Not all of us have to cook a seven-course meal for the Prime Minister of Australia and her seventy-five closest friends, but we have trial by fire. Someone dies, someone loses a job, someone gets divorced, someone gets sick. Trial by fire. The way contestants in the kitchen respond isn't really that much different from the way they would respond in real life.

When something doesn't work, we freak out; when someone sabotages us, we get angry; when we win, we sometimes say stupid things; we almost never expect to lose. People with integrity react with integrity; people who can handle stress tend to do well in stressful situations. It's really not rocket science. I may not be facing the chopping block every night, but I face a proverbial chopping block, and I know it's coming, and I respond in character. 

Buy Vengeful Gaines HERE
Why do I care so much? Well, I write foodie romance, and my most recent book has a food competition in it. It brings out the worst in some, and the best in others. I would argue, however, that life would have brought it out of them eventually. But the food competition is a microcosm of their lives. There's love and loss, food and even some kissing!

What's it called, you ask? It's called Vengeful Gaines, and it just released from Decadent Publishing. Like I said, it's got food and competing and love and kissing. It's also part of the series of books about the Gaines family at the Misbegotten Gaines Ranch, set in Freewill, WY. There will be another Gaines book out this winter, but for now, check out Mattie's story.

Mattie Gaines has so much to be thankful for—three beautiful children who are well on their way to making great love matches, a successful family business that keeps her challenged every day. But a part of her will never forget her first love, and she longs for her own romance du jour.

Wanting a new start, Will Jordan returns to Freewill and wonders whatever happened to that firecracker Mattie Gaines. When he spies her at the first annual Thanksgiving cook-off, old feelings resurface. Will can’t forget Mattie’s kisses from long ago, and he wants to make her remember, too—even if it costs them both more than they bargained.


Anthology Authors said...

I love those cooking shows, Camryn! I don't watch them all of the time, but when I do, I know exactly what your talking about. It also drives me nuts when the conceited one wins the prize. I don't care how good a person is at something, if they are conceited, I root against them. (g)


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Faith said...

I gotta admit I don't watch cooking shows. There is one I'd like to watch...Bitchin' Cooking with...can't remember the exact name, but it's on late here in our area and that's the same time I watch something else.