Diamond Alexander was the second home cook eliminated on “MasterChef” earlier this week, and she left during what seemed to be one of the harder elimination challenges we’ve seen: Bibimbap, a traditional Korean rice dish. It’s not something we’re altogether familiar with, so we probably would have passed out at the thought of having to take this on in the amount of time allotted.
Below, Diamond reflects on trying to take on this challenge, the plight of being a vegetarian in a competition that often forces you to cook meat, and also how she hopes to use her time in this competition to propel her career.
CarterMatt – When you first learned about the Bibimbap challenge, were you worried or excited about pulling it off?
Diamond Alexander – I was definitely worried about the Bibimbap challenge – I have never eaten it and really can’t say that I’ve seen it more than once in my life. I honestly was still feeling off my game from the sausage challenge so it was all-around a tough challenge for me.
What sort of pressure is on you in the kitchen to mix things up and take big risks, like you did with the Thanksgiving theme? Do you wish you had done something more traditional?
I found myself wanting to be impressive or do something exciting to really capture the judges’ attention and palates – and failed honestly. I think I took the directive to put myself in my dish too literally and took the creativity challenge to a place where it no longer respected the integrity of the traditional dish. I wish that instead of focusing so much on trying to be exciting, I would have stuck more to what I know – which are vegetables – and done those really well instead of doing what I thought the judges would like or be impressed with.
How challenging was it competing as a vegetarian? Did you have to train and practice cooking proteins before the season that you are not personally experienced in eating?
I practiced cooking meat a bit before the show but figured I wanted to show the judges what I could do that didn’t include animal proteins so I practiced more veggie-focused dishes. I wish I would have practiced more because at times, not eating the meat didn’t help me. I wouldn’t say it was challenging to compete as a vegetarian – it was probably more challenging to compete as someone unfamiliar with cooking certain dishes. Vegetarian or not, I still have never had or made Bibimbap. I don’t own a meat grinder at home so I don’t know how to cook a perfect sausage. I think that lack of experience hurt me more than the fact that I didn’t eat meat.
Do you wish there were more vegetarian challenges this season? Was there anything you were hoping to make for the judges?
I wish that there was more flexibility in the challenges that we did have, not necessarily to have veggie-only challenges. For example, I’ve made seitan (wheat gluten) sausages at home before but that wasn’t permissible in the sausage challenge. I don’t know if that makes sense but I wish there was a little more opportunity to show some of the cool meat-alternatives vegetarians can make and see how they would’ve stood up against the meat entries the other contestants put forward.
What was your performance this season that you were most proud of?
I am most proud of my contribution to the team challenges and I am honestly proud of the thought process and food styling with regards to the sausage challenge. Gordon said I had one of the best looking ones out there and I was the only who tried chicken, I mixed cheese into mine. If I would have executed my sausage better, it might not have been such a disappointing night.
Overall, what has it been like sitting back and watching this whole experience back on TV?
It’s been both fun and stressful to watch myself on TV! I re-live every moment and all of my emotions come back. It’s also been great to share the experience with my family and friends because now they get to see what I was working so hard towards. I had an incredible experience and can guarantee this isn’t the last time I’ll be cooking on tv :)
Interested in seeing our other exit interview for the week with Andrea? Then head over here right now! Also, sign up over here to secure some other TV news on all we cover, sent right over to you via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: Fox.)