Monday night’s new episode of “MasterChef” was a sad one to watch for us, mostly because we ended up seeing the departure of a personal favorite in Josh Marks — who, despite being consistently strong pretty much all season, met his end during a difficult challenge based around cooking eggs a variety of ways. Of course, this challenge raises a pretty interesting question that ended up getting raised in our exit interview with him — who in the world eats soft-boiled eggs anymore?
We will say this ultimately about Josh — the fact that he is already this good at what he does, despite still being relatively new to the world of cooking, is scary when you think of how good he could be in a few years.
Cartermatt.com – One of the reasons I really found myself rooting for you had a really interesting story — someone who developed a passion beyond just doing something that everyone expected you to do in basketball. When was it that you first realized that you loved to cook?
Josh Marks – I started cooking about five years ago, just cooking on my own, perfecting stuff like Hamburger Helper and taking that stuff to the next level, and cooking chilies and other simple stuff. I wanted to take that stuff to the next level, so I started to apply it to fresh ingredients rather than just boxes of Hamburger Helper.
It was probably about three years ago when I started getting really good at cooking and getting really serious about it, and that’s when it became a love more than just something you do every day.
As someone who has been in pressure situations before, what was it like for you going in and cooking in front of the judges for the first time?
The audition day was great — going in there and meeting Joe [Bastianich], Graham [Elliot], and Gordon [Ramsay]. I thought I was going to be nervous … [when I was making the food] I was extremely nervous, but when I walked in I was just really happy that I got to show my food, and I think that showed when I presented my dish to them.
As prepared as you were for the cooking part of this competition, how prepared were you for the actual reality TV part of it? Is that something you worried about?
Actually, no. Going into this, I wasn’t thinking about reality TV or cameras or anything like that. I knew it was a cooking competition, so I just tuned out the cameras and didn’t even worry about that aspect of it. It was just strictly a cooking competition to me.
Let’s dive into something that was a hot topic during the episode — Felix getting immunity from having to take the pressure test. We obviously didn’t see everything that happened during the cowboy cook-off, so why did you think you were deserving of being immune?
I was instrumental because I had my hands in everything when it came to that challenge. First of all, I think we started off wrong. I think we should’ve served rice and beans instead of sweet potatoes.
[When it came to cooking], I had my hands in the potatoes in the beginning, then I helped save the steaks, then I helped cook he green beans and helped serve the butter sauce. I was cooking throughout the whole time. Felix and Becky went off to serve, and that’s when we should have been cooking potatoes. Somebody should have been cooking! And Monti, too, she came back screaming about needing potatoes. She should have been cooking them! I can’t cook steak, potatoes, beans, and butter sauce.
Do you think not giving you immunity could have been due to some of your other contestants seeing you as a big threat, and that they wanted to have a chance to get rid of you?
I’ve thought about that. I think no matter how well I did, they still wanted me down there to be up for elimination and to get one of the tougher competitors out.
So here’s the tough question — have you forgiven eggs?
It took me a while after being eliminated. Oddly enough, [that was during] Easter weekend, so I didn’t boil any eggs for anybody. (Laughs.) It took me a while to get [over] it.
A lot of the eggs you had to cook weren’t things that everyone eats all of the time, and I know you had said that you hadn’t really cooked poached eggs before. How much experience did you have with all of the different styles?
Oddly, I make omelettes all the time, so I don’t know how I screwed that one up. Sunny-side up eggs … I love my eggs sunny-side up or over easy, so I was pretty confident with that. Poached eggs and soft-boiled eggs are the two that really had me stuck … like with the soft-boiled egg, who really eats that?
So was there any one dish that you made during the show that you consider a standout?
Probably my pasta dish [that landed in the top 3]. It was a well-conceived dish and I think Joe recognized that, as well. When I didn’t win that Mystery Box challenge I was a little hurt, but I think that was still one of my strongest dishes, one of my first times making homemade pasta, and I think that went really well.
Also, I haven’t done a lot of work with cake but I think I whipped that thing out really well! Like a champion, man.
So what are you wanting to do with your career now that you’ve had this ‘MasterChef’ experience?
I’m trying to work my way into the private chef industry, and eventually open up my cooking school where regular people can come for a class, like you and your work can come for a class, or on date night instead of going out to a fancy restaurant. I show you how to cook and present a meal, and then [you can] enjoy it.
You said as you left that you couldn’t wait to buy Christine’s cookbook [if she wins]. Was she your closest friend on the show?
She was my closest buddy from the show. We talk all of the time. During the show, I feel like she was the realest one there. I didn’t want to have to deal with the drama and the BS and the fighting, and that’s why I [teamed up] with her because she didn’t care. She didn’t care about who was memorizing recipes and she wasn’t trying to take people out.
Are you going to miss Josh moving forward? If you want to check out our review of Monday night’s episode, be sure to hit up the link here.