When Jennie Kelley applied to the Fox reality cooking show MasterChef her hope was to receive some critiquing from food experts. She wound up making the show, and all the way to the final 18 contestants before she finally failed to make the cut. Her run on the Fox show recently ended.
A native of Dallas and a graduate of SMU, Kelley lives in Deep Ellum and remains all things creative. She was a member of the Polyphonic Spree for forever, and worked in the fashion promotion industry before she put those aside to really pursue food.
"I didn't go to culinary school, but when I was in the Polyphonic Spree we'd travel all over the country and the world and before each city we went to I researched restaurants and chefs and would make reservations weeks in advance because this was my passion," she told me today. "I love food, and I love cooking."
On what sounds like a "Why not?" moment, Kelley applied to the MasterChef show last year, and she just kept advancing and advancing and advancing. Only in the last two weeks did she stop. Be sure to check out here food blog here.
She spoke with The Big Mac Blog today about her new career, and her newly formed thoughts on reality TV.
The Big Mac Blog: Who inspired you to pursue cooking as a career?
Jennie Kelley: I would come back from these trips and cook for friends and family, and they would always ask me where I got this idea or that idea. They just really enjoyed it, and I really enjoyed making it. But I was older, and I really didn't want to go to culinary school. I wanted to try for a reality TV show. When I heard Fox was holding auditions in Dallas last year, I thought I would try because at the very least I would get some feedback on my cooking from professionals.
The Big Mac Blog: These shows are notorious for conflicts, and people getting screamed at; how did you get comfortable with that?
Jennie Kelley: You do get used to be being yelled at. You eventually develop a thicker skin. You realize it's a show and they need drama from it. But you learn to multi-task and not take things personally. I didn't go into this thing thinking I was going to win; I wanted feedback, and if I got yelled at in the process so be it. You do learn to roll with things.
The Big Mac Blog: Do you look at reality TV differently now?
Jennie Kelley: I do watch watch it differently, yes. Not as I did before. I see a lot of editing, even if it's not a food show.
The Big Mac Blog: Did you make friends from this show, or do you go your separate ways and that's it?
Jennie Kelley: No, no. The guys from Texas I still keep in touch with. I talk to a lot of people from the show. It is a food boot camp and you're all going through the same things and you're on this food emotional roller coaster. We wanted the best for each other, probably in a way the producers liked. You don't want your friend to get pummeled.
The Big Mac Blog: Now that this is over, do you want to pursue opening a restaurant or possibly become a caterer?
Jennie Kelley: Well, I've had such an organic career, and I do have a photography background. I do have this food blog - www.theperfectlastbite.com - and I've gotten into food styling. This is a very honed thing of taking photographs of food. There is a new movement in this and I'm happy to be a part of it, because now food is more organic and more seasonal. Taking pictures of food used to be about trickery and science to get it to look a certain way, and this is about making the food look as it does without all of that.
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