Here is an interview with Becky Reams ("MasterChef"):
Who was your first cooking inspiration?
Of course, my amazing mother! She taught me the importance of good, homemade food. Period. She knows how to feed people and how to really put heart and soul into her cooking, which is what I always strive to do.
What is the first dish you ever mastered?
The first dish I ever mastered has to be Chicken Parmesan. Probably not what you would expect from a Kansas girl, but it's true! When I first moved to California, I started cooking a lot of new recipes and testing new techniques, etc. I cooked Chicken Parmesan one night for friends, and they absolutely loved it! It was a huge hit, so from then on out, they would request it specifically. So I became the Chicken Parmesan queen! And you know it isn't some ordinary chicken parm, there are several secret ingredients involved.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
My favorite thing to cook is anything that is regional, local, and in season. I know that sounds like a catch-all term, but it's true. California has so much to offer, and the bounty of fresh produce, meats and seafood is outstanding. I also try to cook regionally, because I think that is something that is missing in a lot of today's American cooking. People have forgotten what kinds of food they grew up with, and what kinds of food make us unique to the area we live. My philosophy on cooking is to draw from my life experiences, and the type of food I grew up with in Stilwell, Kansas, and to use that as the basis for how I cook. I look to reinterpret those dishes and modernize them in a way that makes them new for people again. Specifically by using the wonderful products here in Los Angeles, like the seafood, the produce from the farmer's market, and all the wonderful sustainably-raised meats.
What did you learn as a contestant on "MasterChef"?
"MasterChef" taught me, above anything else, to trust myself and my instincts. It is something that in more ways than one truly changed my life. I learned more about cooking and more about myself during my time there than I have ever before in my entire life. Aside from all the amazing culinary things I learned, what was most significant was the lesson I learned about myself, and the realization that cooking is truly God's path for me in life. Cooking is something that is natural for me, and gives me more pleasure and an indescribable high, than anything else on Earth. Cooking for me is the perfect storm of everything I know, everything I love, and everything I strive to be.