‘MasterChef’ exclusive interview: Anna Rossi on food trucks, tortellini

Another episode of “MasterChef” has come and gone, and with that of course we have another exclusive interview to share from the eliminated contestant. From the beginning of the season, Anna Rossi was one of the nicer contestants of the season. She had a memorable story of auditioning with her husband, and after he was eliminated prior to the top 18, she soldiered on and attempted to make a name for herself.

Unfortunately, Anna’s undoing was a tortellini challenge where she could never really get her dough to do just what she wanted it to — and we had an opportunity to find out about this pressure test and more in our chat.

Cartermatt.com – First things first, what was it like auditioning for the show when you had someone [in AJ] there to share in the experience? Did it help to take away some of the nerves?

Anna Rossi – People ask us this, and other competitors were like ‘you have each other.’ But when we were preparing our 60-minute audition dish, not only was I freaking out, but I was also really nervous for AJ that he had remembered all of his herbs and that he remembered to get everything done on his part. I wanted him to get an apron, but I also wanted to get my apron — it was almost multiplied. One set of emotions was definitely enough.

We don’t cook competitively at home. He’s my better half in the kitchen, but it was a different mindset. At the end of the day, it is really cool to both know the same people and the energy and vibe of the contestants so we can gossip and relate to what happened out there.

How much had you watched this show before going on it? I still can’t even imagine the nerves of cooking in front of Gordon Ramsay. I would probably pass out.

(Referring to herself) Like with the tortellini, for example? (Laughs.) The irony was that I had actually gotten onto the show by making homemade ravioli. Just being in the heat of that moment and not having a glass of wine and my favorite radio station on while I was making pasta [made it hard], and [then it was made] a pressure test with three other talented people.

it’s just HD television and it took me a while to realize that I could talk to [Gordon] and he was not hi-def. (Laughs.) He’s a force, and an incredible talent in his field.

Let’s talk about that pressure test. Was it the stress or the long hours that were starting to get to you?

The food truck challenge had me scattered. I knew that my two feet were not on the ground when I walked into my pressure test, and it is so funny watching the show back … I knew in the first few minutes that I was going home. My flour and egg mixture didn’t respond the way that it should in my Roboku. Just for the record, I was making it in the Roboku because Lydia Bastianich — Joe Bastianich’s mother — makes her pasta in a Roboku. I was doing my best to impress, but that didn’t work out.

So Joe doesn’t like the way his own mother makes pasta!

(Laughs) I came back and I was like ‘did I not read this correctly’? In Lydia’s Italy it has instructions, but I guess it was not the appropriate technique. I would make it by hand if I had to make it all over again.

When it comes to the food truck challenge, what was it that made you want to step up? It was pretty obvious that Monti and David were not getting along.

Yeah, it was. I don’t really quite understand how I ended up in that group. David and Monti and Tanya, it was a strong group of cooks, but there were some big personalities and it was a small physical space in that truck. I know the judges wanted to see me use my voice and take a leadership role. I felt like if I didn’t take the risk despite being dealt a team with two big personalities, I would be on the chopping block for it. It was my time, and the way we arranged it with stations, it worked out well until the very end.

At the end of the day I am responsible, and just doing verbal check-ins with David wasn’t enough. That’s my responsibility. It’s appropriate in a lot of ways that the team captain went home because I take responsibility.

Did you think that your team was behind during the actual challenge?

No, we thought we were winning! We were thinking we won, not just coming in second … Looking back, it was the fact that I don’t know why there weren’t hamburgers on the grill [early on]. That’s a whole another thing that we don’t need to go into. But we had such a big line and our burgers were so good. They were incredible, and Tanya had this amazing Texas barbecue sauce … People were coming back and re-ordering. It really did come down to those first 15 minutes when we weren’t turning and burning and getting them out the window.

So where do you see this experience on ‘MasterChef’ taking you? Are you and your husband planning to do some stuff together?

I have started a catering business that is through my website BraveApron.com. AJ is just such an amazing support. He’s got a lot going on on his end, and this is where we come together. I learned so much out there, and it’s been really exciting to bring it home and say that this is the time and the motivation to really follow through with my dream and having the show be a launch pad for that.

Were you shocked to see Anna leave? Be sure to check out more of our exclusive interviews from this season, and leave your thoughts with a comment below.

Photo: Fox

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