‘MasterChef’ exclusive interview: Becky Reams reflects on third-place finish

The further in a competition like “MasterChef” that you go, the harder it is for you to deal with the devastation that comes with being eliminated. For Becky Reams, this probably makes it just about as hard as hard can be. On last week’s episode of the culinary competition show, she fell just short of the finale after being stuck on an elimination challenge cooking something in frog legs that she has no history making. She was, however, one of the most dominant home cooks of the season, especially when it came to placing high in Mystery Box challenges.

On Monday, we had a chance to talk a little bit with Becky about her time on the show.

Cartermatt.com – First things first, how tough is it to go out just one competition before the finale?

Becky Reams – It’s tough. You get so close, and at that point the pressure just builds and builds. You’re trying to do everything you can to make sure that everything is perfect, and of course production comes into play a lot … It was really hard, but I think that all things considered I was really happy with how things turned out.

I know there are some people out there who would say that they would have rather been eliminated earlier so that they were not as devastated, but I actually think making it so far is something to be proud of since you beat so many people to make it there.

I agree. It’s still getting that close, and it’s much better than it would be had I been eliminated early on. And I don’t really have any regrets. I did everything that I could, and I did show off a good bit of skill that has really propelled me into the cooking that I am doing now. It’s a win-win.

When it comes to that elimination challenge last week, did you think you were going home the minute that you were dealt the frog legs?

No, I don’t think I thought I was [done] from the very beginning. I knew that it was going to be an incredible challenge, but I feel like throughout the whole competition, I was always dealt the hardest card. Whenever there was an opportunity to give your other contestants something, everyone was always like ‘give Becky the hardest one.’ So I expected it; when I saw what the three choices were, I knew I was going to be stuck with the frog legs.

This is something that I asked Frank about last week, and I also think that it applies here with you. Do you think that being a favorite and winning so may challenges makes it harder on you? Whether it’s a conscious move or not, the judges may look at your food a little differently. Plus, it does make you a target as you already said.

Yeah, I think it does [make it harder]. I think that with the judges [winning does give you respect]; but by the same token, it’s kind of unfortunate because I think that I was critiqued with a little more scrutiny because I had done better in the past. It’s hard to compare apples to orange I suppose, but I feel like I may have had a harsher critique or a higher expectation because I was always trying to do something different and more innovative than most [everyone else]. I don’t know; I guess it did end up working against me.

One of the things that I’ve noticed on the show this year was that even though we got to know a good many personal stories, we didn’t really such much of your personality outside of the producers saying ‘here is Becky’ and reminding us that you’re a threat. Is that something you noticed?

Yeah, I think I had more of a picture painted of me being extremely self-confident and entitled, just being a really fierce competitor who takes no prisoners, and that’s really not me. I’m actually a really goofy person and a really happy person. I would get some criticism from people on Twitter for being too expressive or celebrating too much. When you see me flailing too much or jumping up and down on the show, I’m not doing that because I’m trying to be a brat; I’m really that spastic. (Laughs.) I was just so excited to get to do things like cook for Paula Deen or win a Mystery Box. That is like the most incredible experiences I’ve had in my entire life. I have a really boring life, so getting to do things like that was really cool. I do wear my emotions on my sleeve, so I think that they did target that and capitalized on those things.

So going into this, were you a big fan of ‘MasterChef’?

I didn’t really watch it. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, I just never really watched it. When I went and auditioned for the show it was almost on a dare from my friends telling me that ‘you should go,’ and I went there thinking there is no way in heck that [I would make it] … you always assume that there are people better than you. So when they kept calling me back and I made it on the show, every day that I was there was the greatest day of my life. I tell people that all the time. Every moment I was just so grateful for those opportunities because it was such a dream come true. It gave me that vision and that validation that cooking is something that I need to be doing for the rest of my life.

When it comes to cooking for the judges, I would be terrified to do it. Are there a lot of nerves that go into it, and is it one of those situations where it gets easier when you stay here for a while and realize that Gordon [Ramsay] and Joe [Bastianich] are not the tyrants that they are portrayed to be?

It’s a little of both. Of course, there are more nerves that I have ever experienced in my whole life; it can be the greatest day of your life and the worst day of your life in the same 24 hours. You may do really well in one challenge and completely bomb in the next. You’re like a volcano of emotions the entire time, and you really have to learn how to bounce back, set your mind right, and get your mind on to the next task. That is probably something that rings true for all cooking. You can’t harbor on any negatives; you just have to move forward. You’re going to get critics no matter where you are, and that is just one thing that I learned. Also, it was tough working within the time constraints. Within the first Mystery Box I was nervous that I was going to even [finish], but by the end we were all making things that were so much more complex because you start to realize how you are going to bring your dish together. You are winging it almost all of the time. It is a lot of learning which is really pretty cool.

Really Becky, I just have two more questions for you. First, do you have a favorite for the finale tonight?

It’s so hard to say because I’m biased and really close to both of them. They are both incredibly strong contenders and great cooks in their own ways. I think that Christine is obviously an inspiration to everyone. She’s a friend of mine, she’s a great cook, and we obviously worked together on a number of challenges for a reason. Meanwhile, Josh is really so ambitious and works so hard. Either one of them can take it, but sorry, I really can’t give you one over the other.

Finally, what’s coming up for you now that you have had this experience?

Right now I’m very much in a place of ‘yes,’ and I’m saying yes to a variety of different things. I was just brought on by a media company, and I just shot eight episodes of a cooking series called ‘The Foodie Next Door.’ It’s going to be short, 3-5 minute cooking videos where I show people how to make really great food at home that you might usually only see in restaurants. That will be available on WhiskedFoodie.com. Outside of that, I’m doing pop-ups. I’m actually in Kansas City right now and I’m cooking with Chef Celina Tio, who you might know from ‘The Next Iron Chef.’ She has a great restaurant here in Kansas City called Julian, and I’m working on a prix fixe menu for Wednesday and Sunday … Potentially I would like to have a restaurant by this time next year, maybe in October 2013.

Who are you rooting for to win the finale? If you want to see some videos of what is coming up, be sure to pay a visit to the link here.

Photo: Fox

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