MasterChef interview: Winner Shaun O’Neale reflects on past year, talks new cooking venture

Shaun O'NealeOn Wednesday night, there is a new episode of MasterChef airing on Fox; before that, why not get an update from the most-recent champion? Shaun O’Neale exited the show last year as a champion, and since that time he’s been busy! He’s got a cookbook entitled My Modern American Table, he’s been touring the country, and he’s also a part of a new venture entitled Cooking with MasterChef. You can get a tease of what the program is in the video below; Shaun is teaming up with fellow recent winners Luca Manfe and Claudia Sandoval in order to offer up a program where you can learn a variety of exciting new techniques and recipes from people who spent much of their lives as home cooks.

In addition to that video, we also recently spoke with Shaun about the program and what’s he’s been up to since his season of the show.

CarterMatt – How has the past year for you been as a MasterChef winner?

The past year has been pretty much like a dream state, I still wake up in the mornings expecting it to all have vanished. I have had some amazing opportunities since winning MasterChef traveling across this beautiful country and abroad sharing my food with the world and I honestly couldn’t be any happier. Since the release of my debut cookbook My Modern American Table, I have been relentlessly traveling from Puerto Rico to Prince Edward Island, Canada and Cocoa Beach to Gilroy, California to take part in some of the worlds best food festivals and music festivals, from cooking demos to competition judging and book signings. I am trying to share my passion for food with as many people as I possibly can.

Do you find yourself getting more into watching the show now that you’ve been a part of it?

Absolutely, MasterChef has become part of who I am and as every contestant will tell you the people become family whether from your season or the next you feel a bond with anyone who has gone through the MasterChef fire! I feel like I know each and every one of the new recruits and I feel their pain and their joy right along with them every episode.

 For you, what made you want to get involved with the Cooking with MasterChef series?

I guess mainly the opportunity to teach was big factor for me, my Mom has always been a teacher – currently teaching severe and profound handicapped students. So this was a chance for me to follow in her footsteps a little bit which is absolutely something I never thought I would do. Not to mention, I jump at any chance to suit up in my MasterChef chef’s coat and jump in the kitchen, I am so honored to represent this incredible worldwide brand and whether it be the MasterChef Cruise or Cooking with MasterChef or whatever the future may hold, you can definitely count me in!

What do you hope that people who take part in the classes get out of it?

Ultimately I hope they learn new techniques, skills and cooking methods hopefully they become inspired to create something new even if it is outside of their own personal comfort zone.

Was it fun working alongside other winners like Claudia and Luca?

I love working with these guys. It is always an exciting time when you put the three of us together – I mean, how can someone not love Luca rapping the entire Fresh Prince of Bel Air song in Italian? We all have such unique perspectives on food but with the Cooking with MasterChef courses we truly came together to create something truly unique and something I feel will inspire countless home cooks to reinvent the way they cook at home!

What have you enjoyed about being a part of the Cooking with MasterChef experience?

Since it has just kicked off recently, I will have to say that so far the most enjoyable part was the actual filming we did in Denver. It was such a great time creating this beautiful content for the Cooking with MasterChef courses. But, what I am truly looking forward to is the chance to interact with the students and share the things that I have learned on MasterChef and from my personal culinary experiences with those eager to learn. This is such a unique project and I am so excited to be a part of the entire process!

What sort of advice do you have for the home cooks this season going through what you went through?

I get this question a lot and its so hard to give specific advice to the new recruits because MasterChef as a show is always evolving and you can never truly know what you are getting yourself into from one season to the next. One thing is for sure and that is Gordon Ramsay is definitely going to yell at you so be ready, nobody escapes that! I guess my best advice is to always be listening to what the judges are saying whether they are talking to you or one of your competitors, you never know when you may hear something that can help you in the future!

Remember, you can head over here to learn more about Cooking with MasterChef right now. (Photo: Fox.)

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