‘MasterChef’ exclusive interview: Frank Mirando on souffles, future plans

For most of this season on “MasterChef,” we were genuinely convinced that Frank Mirando was going to be the home cook to take home the grand prize at the end. He was a consistently strong contender all season long, won a number of challenges, and even showed off some leadership skills during some of the team challenges. However, his journey was ultimately cut short last week courtesy of a souffle-themed pressure test against a man in Josh Marks who has become a bit of an underdog leading up to next week’s finale.

We had a chance to talk with Frank on Tuesday to not only ask about what happened leading up to his elimination, but also to hear more about his overall experience and what he is up to now.

Cartermatt.com – So have you managed to forgive souffles yet?

Frank Mirando – You know, I haven’t made one since I’ve been home. I don’t even want to look at a souffle.

I can’t blame you.

It’s not such a difficult thing to make. But doing multiple things at the same time with three different kinds … it was a logistical nightmare just to try and get them done. I was really happy that I was just able to get them out there and the judges were for the most part happy with them.

So what do you think happened? Was it a case where you were trying to do too much, or was just one of Josh’s souffles a tiny bit better than one of your own?

I don’t really know what Josh was doing since I couldn’t watch him behind me, but it came down to really simple flavor profiles. Without getting too technical with your [readers] since I don’t know how many people cook and make souffles on a daily basis, you’re supposed to add the sugar in slowly rather than all at one time with the egg whites. I had a strategy where I had two cooking stations, and I was going to do one sweet and savory, which was the cheese souffle, and on the other station the sweet ones, which were the chocolate and the raspberry. I had divided my mixers in two different stations, and that was a problem. It was hard to go back and forth. It was a good idea, but to try and execute it in 60 minutes I think was the main thing that made my souffles not as good a quality as they should have been.

Going back to the early part of the competition, you sometimes see people lay low early on and then rise to the occasion later. However, you really made your impression in a big way early as a contender to win this whole thing. Was that a strategy to stand out from the pack and make people take notice?

Before I went, I was really nervous about being in front of the cameras. I’m not the kind of guy who likes being in the limelight, and my mother’s advice is always the best: be yourself. Instead of trying to come up with some sort of strategy … I just took each individual challenge and tried to do them the best I could. I think that might have been a bad move. I think that because I was a frontrunner the whole time, it’s easy to have a bad day later on in the competition and be booted because of it, whereas Josh was up and down the whole time, but he was able to play the underdog role after he got a second chance and came back on.

My advice to anyone who takes on one of these competitions out there, as ‘MasterChef’ season 4 is starting soon, is try to be a little bit strategic on how you execute each one of the challenges.

You brought up strategy and you also brought up Josh, so I have to ask what was going through your head when you saved yourself over him when it came to the pressure test earlier this season, even after Gordon Ramsay asked a hypothetical where you said you would save him. I certainly would have done the same thing that you did, but Josh was certainly upset about it.

Basically, the hypothetical was ‘if you want to save one of your teammates, which one would it be’? It wasn’t ‘if you could save yourself based on the performance.’ It was hard to make that decision because we all did okay, and we all made certain mistakes. But Josh at the end held it together well, so I said that if I was going to pick one of them, it would be Josh. When they said ‘you know what Frank, we are going to give you an opportunity to save someone, including yourself,’ it really put things in perspective.

Now, I start thinking back to things that Josh had said in the past, like when David forgot to bring the rice … everybody but Josh raised their hands [when asked if they would have given him rice]. It doesn’t show that Josh is a bad guy, but that he is a competitive person and this is a competition. He’s in it for himself. As I’m standing there first, David Martinez is telling me ‘Frank, you have to go upstairs,’ and second, I’m thinking that Josh wouldn’t send me upstairs if the shoe was on the other foot. I said that to the judges, but they didn’t show that on TV.

You said earlier that you were uncomfortable with being on camera, so what was it like dealing with this and being in front of Chef Ramsay? Did you watch much of him in the past, and were you frightened by him going into this?

I watched all of his shows. I think he is one of the funniest guys … I like dry humor. I like watching people get reamed out; some people get offended, but I think it’s funny. But, now being in front of him is a completely different situation. The first time I was extremely nervous and full of anxiety before I walked on to that set. The more you get to go in front of the other judges, you get to realize how cool they really are, especially Gordon. He’s a jokester, he’s like a big kid. I felt more comfortable as time went on, and you can probably see that in my demeanor on the show. After two days, I forgot all about the cameras. I was worried about the food.

So one last thing: now that you’ve been through this, what’s going to be coming up for you?

I’m actually overwhelmed with local things [like] pop-up parties and cooking classes … I’ve created a blog website where I’m helping people get into the kitchen and start cooking for their families so that they can be a little more healthy, and at the same time enjoy their food again. It’s called Foodenomics.com. And then obviously I would like to open up a restaurant at some point, but that is going to take some time and some diligence and some investors, Of course I’ll be talking more about that on the website.

Were you rooting for Frank to win this season, and who’s your favorite out of the final three cooks? We want to hear some of your thoughts below! To check out a sneak peek from Tuesday night’s new episode, be sure to follow the link here.

Photo: Fox

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