Q&A: Stacey Amagrande
WRITER Brittany Ineson
PHOTOGRAPHER Angie Valenzuel
A wife, a chef and a soon to be cookbook author, Season 3 MasterChef contestant Stacey Amagrande likes her plate full… literally. After receiving her apron, Amagrande has been competing under extreme pressure but performing with incredible poise. She takes some time away from the kitchen to chat with Inked Magazine about her experience on the show and even tells us what to expect on upcoming episodes. Hey, if you can't take the heat - get out of the kitchen.
Inked Magazine: How did your passion for cooking begin?
Stacey Amagrande: My passion for cooking began when I was very young. Both of my parents cooked; Mom made lasagnas and pizzas and Dad grilled ribs, steaks and chicken on the BBQ. I grew up with great home food all of the time. My Grandparents played a big part in my food inspiration. My Greek Great Grandmother "Yaya" was a chef, restauranteur, fisher woman and all around go-getter. Needless to say I was surrounded by amazing authentic cuisine. The old school way of doing it. Rustic and family style.
Inked: What pushed you to try out for MasterChef?
Amagrande: I was working as a manager for the HIgh Desert Farmer's Market and I received word that MasterChef was casting for Season 3. They wanted us to help get the word out by putting their flyer on out information table. I instantly thought "I AM DOING IT!". I was casted and the rest is history!
Inked: What was it like to stand up there in front of these three incredible chefs and be critiqued?
Amagrande: Being critiqued was really strange, uncomfortable, scary, awesome, humbling and exciting all at once.
Inked: What was your first dish and what was the reaction from the judges?
Amagrande: Gordon said my Espresso Coriander crusted New York Strip steak was perfectly cooked, my chimichurri sauce was right on and the grilled veggies were beautiful. But it was only a steak and some vegetables, It did not impress Gordon. Graham loved all of it, he said it worked brilliantly and voted me in for an apron. Joe was on the fence and actually sent me out of the room without an apron, but promptly changed his mind and changed my life by handing me the MasterChef apron.
Inked: What did it feel like to finally receive your apron?
Amagrande: Initially I felt defeated but the judges changed their minds and resurrected me in a sense. With my MasterChef apron on, I felt like a warrior. I won the first fight but the battle was far from over. I was excited, exhausted and proud!
Inked: According to the judges, what was your best dish and what was your worst so far?
Amagrande: So far my best dish, by far, is my Italian Trifle. A Layer of ladyfingers, lemon curd blended with mascarpone cheese, a layer of Basil Balsamic strawberry jam and amaretto cream to top it off. My worst dish, oh lets not talk about that! I guess so far it would have to be My Rabbit. Thankfully they did not show this but it was definitely not my best work.
Inked: What is the atmosphere like in the kitchen?
Amagrande: The atmosphere in the kitchen is a mixed bag of high, intense competition mellowed with a common ground of understanding, empathy and courage. It's a Battle field.