I’m trying to expand Cooking JJ’s Way, trying to make a name for ourselves out here in this wide open world. To get this started, I decided I would do something completely out of character for me, and completely out of my comfort zone. I went to an open casting call in LA. for a new reality television show. The show is going to be about amateur cooks who want to become master chefs. You had to bring one of your best dishes to the audition, something to impress them with. Something that would be good at room temperature because, of course, you were going to be waiting in line for hours waiting for your chance with the tasting judge.
The week leading up to the audition I try talking myself out of going, even though my friends are all cheering me on. I’m subconciously thinking, I don’t want to be on reality TV! I’m not a big TV watcher and probably my least favorite kind of shows are reality shows. I’m already making excuses because it’s taking me out of my comfort zone. But, I shut the silly voices in my head up and say just go try something new you silly little girl. I mean I live in L.A. Where everybody comes to Hollywood for a chance at fame and flashing lights. Just do it!
I have to think of a dish now. I need something unique. Something good at room temperature. Something I’m really good at. I decided on a Lebanese Mezze. (It’s like appetizers. Stuffed grapeleaves, tabouli, kibbie, ect.) I’ve got great family recipes. It’s great at room temperature. And how many other people would bring Lebanese food? Turns out that was the absolute wrong thing to bring! Yeah, it’s tasty and looked cute enough on the plate, (you get points for platting your dish.) But, it didn’t have the “It Factor”. When the judge came by and started asking me questions about my dish, I knew I was out. It was this one question in particular that really stood out. She asks “So you’re Lebanese?” It’s the way she asked it though. It was the tone in her voice and the expression on her face. She was very condescending and stuck up about it. Right then I knew I made the wrong dish. Of course I can make Lebanese food. I grew up in a Lebanese family. It didn’t really show off any of my “master skills”.
That one question she asked changed my whole way of thinking and pushed me in a whole new direction. All the buzz from that day started to make sense. While I was outside waiting in line, a woman comes out who had got picked to come back. She had these three tiny little truffles on a little plate, no big deal, I thought. But she had written something clever on each truffle (I can’t remember what they said) and the whole ensemble looked like a work of art. I didn’t get it at the moment but it’s definitely clear now, why she was picked. Her dish was unique, it showed off her master skills and it looked like a work of art. She had the “It Factor” that day. Now my friends boyfriends voice is playing in my head. He’s one of my biggest fans and he’s always telling me “you need a nitch.” Well, I get it now. I don’t have a work of art like the cute little truffles. I don’t have something that just stands out. I gotta find my nitch!
I learned so much from that casting call. I got out of my comfort zone, I made myself do something out of character, but most of my new found growth came from that one question. “So you’re Lebanese?” Funny how something so simple and so random can completely change your destiny.
PS: I have to mention how my daughter stood by my side that whole day, cheering me on and keeping me company! Thanks, Maia! You were a HUGE help!! Isn’t she cute!