‘MasterChef’ exclusive: David Williams reflects on challenges, performance, overall experience

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We’re a week out from the end of “MasterChef” this season, and we’re thrilled to have one final interview for you before sailing off into the sunset for hiatus. This one’s particularly compelling given that it’s David Williams, one of the more electric personalities and a guy who brought a ton of passion to this season. We’ve watched a good many reality TV contestants with poker backgrounds on other shows, whether it be “Survivor” or “The Amazing Race,” so we were interested from the jump in seeing how he’d fare here. In the end, he made it all the way to the final three before losing out in the finale.

David’s got some pretty in-depth answers (which were sent over to us via email), so we don’t want to spend too much time on the set-up here — let’s just get into the meat of the interview.

CarterMatt – How’re you feeling about the show experience one day removed from the finale?

David Williams – I’m extremely proud of what I accomplished and how far I went but I’m very competitive so I’m disappointed I didn’t win. While none of the three of us were perfect in the finale, I feel like I made a crucial mistake that was preventable which cost me the win. I’m already very hard on myself, but it’s tough to know that I came so close and ultimately dropped the ball.

One thing I’ve noticed is that you engage a lot online with people watching the show, and have some pretty funny stuff to say sometimes. Did being in the public eye before help you when it comes to communicating with fans during the season?

Yes, especially the negativity. Most of the engagement online tends to be negative as that’s what people are most vocal about. Any time someone is in the spotlight there are going to be detractors. I’ve experienced this in poker for the last 12 years albeit a much smaller scale. I’ve found that you are rarely going to change someone’s opinion or be successful having a debate with them over the internet so other than ignoring it, the best solution is to not let it bother you and have fun with it. Sometimes the fact that I played along or joked with the “hater” will even lighten the mood and get them to realize that I’m a human just like them.

I know there aren’t that many similarities between poker and food so it seems wrong to follow that path, but from a pressure standpoint does that prepare you for a high-stakes environment like the one in the finale?

I definitely think I had an advantage all season from being in high pressure situations in poker for most of my life. Some of the fan favorites that were consensus front-runners made mistakes that you can only attribute to the pressure finally getting to them. I was able to make it through every challenge despite a few “tantrums” solely because of my prior experience in high stakes “pressure tests”.

Did you and Shaun feel a rivalry of sorts throughout the season because of where you’re located? How’s that relationship now?

I think his rivalry maybe have had something to do with the location, he often talked about “Vegas” especially in his cut-away interviews. I didn’t have a rivalry with him or anyone. I could care less about where someone is from, even if it is the same as me. I was there to win the competition and didn’t have any mini-goals such as “winning Vegas”. I did view him as one of the biggest threats and put him in my sights as a target along with the other strong competitors. This entire “rivalry” thing came from his comments about “Vegas” and the sausage making episode where I talked some smack to him. This only started because he was upset that I had my team save Nathan (he along with everyone else know this was my idea) and he when Christina asked him who didn’t “deserve” to be in the top 10 he gave my name. I saw he was visibly frustrated and took this as an opportunity to further “tilt” one of the biggest threats in the game. Again, nothing personal for me.

What was the hardest part of being in the kitchen: Is it the specifics of the challenge, the time limit, or just being so far away from your typical environment?

The hardest part for me was the time limit. I’m a very slow and methodical thinker and cook when I cook at home. Having to come up with things on the fly and execute it was very different that what I was used to.

Is there anything at all you wish you could change about the last challenge to get you the trophy?

I think my entree is what kept me from winning. I wish I didn’t use the sous vide so that I could have better direct control on the temperature of my protein. That would require a different preparation, probably an entire new concept but I could have done it. Using the sous vide is not supposed to be a risk. 70 degrees Celsius for 35 mins should cook the same protein the same way every time as it had in practice, but something was wrong then.

So what’s coming up for you next with food? Do you have any specific plans for what you want to do?

I don’t know what’s next for me yet. Coming so close and falling short of victory took a lot out of me. Right now I have lost a lot of my passion to cook so I’ve taken a break. I have had numerous investors approach me about opening my own restaurant or to print a cookbook. If that cooking passion comes back I could definitely see myself taking them up on their offers.

Massive thanks to David for his time, and for all of the contestants this season who were open to chatting about their experiences. We’ll of course be back in the future to cover all things “MasterChef” further.

For now, head over here to get some of our other “MasterChef” coverage, or sign up at this link to score some other TV news on everything we cover, sent right over to you via our official CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: Fox.)

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