‘MasterChef’ exclusive: Stephen Lee teases 100th episode, highlights so far

Stephen -Come Wednesday night, “MasterChef” is going to air its 100th episode on Fox, and that’s a major cause of celebration. This show has been a hit for years now, and a big part of the reason why from our vantage point is the casting. They really have succeeded in it comes to finding people from all walks of life (something that casting departments often boast of but very rarely achieve), and to go along with that they’ve also found people who are enormous personalities and are genuinely talented home cooks.

So far in season 6, Stephen Lee has for us been almost the perfect combination of entertainment while still a serious contender to win. He’s one of the few contestants we can think of who won his way to becoming Team Captain in a challenge, and then manage to impress us even more by being a good leader and keeping his team on track when that team challenge actually happens. In previewing the 100th episode, who better to talk to than him? We had a chance to ask the urban gardener from Palm Springs about the milestone, how he came to be a part of the show, and a variety of other topics.

CarterMatt – This is probably an easy way to start: What made you want to try out for this show to begin with?

Stephen Lee – What first initiated my trying out for the show was a bet I had with my son. He had gotten a lead part in a play, which we were all very proud of him for, but it was going to his head a bit so I told him that anyone could get on TV and you don’t have to be better than others to be great. He told me that I would never be on television so we made a bet that I would.

Has it been entertaining so far to watch yourself back on TV?

Well, I found out that that I look better on television than I do in real life. The anticipation leading up the show was definitely nerve racking but now that the show has started I am more comfortable with it. I was afraid that the viewers would misunderstand me, but I seem to have a lot of people who appreciate my quirky sense of humor and personality and I am thankful for that.

One of the things that was probably most impressive about you so far this season is how you were able to corral your team in Las Vegas. Being a Captain can be hard to do on this show (huge personalities pretty much everywhere), so how were you able to keep everyone on the same page?

I believe that everyone is looking for organization in life. Everyone is looking for a good leader they can believe in. I am confident in my knowledge and skills and that was easily conveyed to my team. The reason they listened to me was that we had an agreement. Our agreement was if they listened to me and followed my lead and did as I asked, I would lead them to victory.

How has doing the show already changed the way that you cook?

The show has made my cooking more precise. I don’t cook for the sake of cooking- if I am going to make myself a poached egg; I am going to cook a perfect poached egg. Anything I cook is cooked to perfection even if it’s just for me or for my girlfriend and me. There is a higher purpose involved now and every time I cook it is another opportunity to do it perfectly and become better.

The 100th episode of the show is coming up next week, and hitting that milestone is always a huge deal in TV. How much of a sense did you get about that from the judges and some of the other people on set? Was there some sort of a celebration to go along the craziness of doing the challenges?

The entire challenge was a part of the 100th episode celebration. Every person on the set was working and cooking extra hard and diligently to make sure that the 100th episode went off as perfectly as possible. It was a huge celebration and you could definitely feel it in the air.

Thanks to Stephen for the time, and best of luck the rest of the season!

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