‘MasterChef’ USA interview: Kathy Prieto talks Gordon Ramsay, Las Vegas, and more

KathyThere were times that Kathy Prieto had a difficult time on “MasterChef” this season. She was chosen multiple times as the last person for team challenges, and she also had to participate in a rooftop cook-off against Luca last week that led to her elimination from the competition.

However, Kathy chose to look more at the positive when we spoke with her exclusively on Wednesday morning, saying that she had no ill will against the judges, her fellow competitor Luca, or the entire city of Las Vegas (seriously, we asked about it). She did have an opportunity to get much further than thousands of other people who tried out, and she’s now able to go home with a huge amount of knowledge to further her dream.

CarterMatt – You went out in one of the most intense ways I’ve ever seen on this show, where it was almost like this two-hour gauntlet. What did you think about watching all of this back as a viewer?

Kathy Prieto – The gauntlet experience against Luca was an amazing experience, just the two of us throwing down. Luca is a tough competitor and I gave him my all. It was fun … I didn’t expect to go through a challenge like that, but we did it, I got through it, and I’m proud of what I did.

When you found out that you were going to Vegas, was there a moment of temporary excitement?

Yeah, I was happy I was going to Vegas. I’ve never been before; but then I was like, ‘Vegas can either make you or break you.’

So can you ever look at Vegas the same, or are you like ‘curse you, Vegas!’ now?

No, I still want to go back to Vegas. (Laughs.)

Well, let’s go back to the beginning then, since it takes a lot of guts to just go through this experience, and run the risk of the judges hating your dish and embarrassing you on TV. Is there anything that made you want to try out for this?

My son. I didn’t think I had it in me to make it as far as I did, and I didn’t think I was actually going to make it onto the show. But my kids believed in me, and they said ‘mom, do it. You can do it.’ I ignored him for two days, but then my son went and gave the tablet to his dad and was like ‘you do it, ’cause mom don’t want to do it.’

There are so many different aspects of this competition: There’s the cooking aspect, and then there’s also trying to handle all of the big personalities and opinions that are thrown at you. How did you manage that, especially when you’re having to handle all this stress?

The personalities on this show are bigger than ever before, trying to deal with everyone [is tough]. I tried to just keep to myself, and I became really good friends with Krissi and we just got each other through it all. We didn’t deal with anybody’s [you-know-what]. I would stay away from everybody and put my head into a cookbook. They had a library, which was nice. That was basically where I would spend my time, in the library reading cookbooks, and making sure I was ready for the next challenge. We didn’t know what it would be, but I wanted to make sure I was a step ahead.

What do you think it is about Krissi that makes her so polarizing? I’ve talked to a few people who are very much Team Krissi, but then there are some people on the show who are not-so-much.

Krissi is very opinionated, and she says what she feels and she doesn’t stop for anybody. I love her that, but other people take that as ‘she’s a loud-mouth from Philly,’ but that’s just how she talks. When people really get to know her, she’s a really good person.

I want to get into the team challenges, because the picking part of it alone had to be pretty darn frustrating. Were you motivated or upset about being picked last?

It was frustrating, but at the same time it gave me the motivation to keep going, because people tend to underestimate me. Just because I’m at home most of the time and I don’t cook like the rest of them did, but I did know what I was doing. Over time, they did get to see that, and I was there for the cooking.

For that challenge at the school, was there a part of you that wanted to be ‘guys, I’m a mom. What are you thinking?’

Yeah. I was like ‘wow. They really don’t know that I’m a mom, I have three kids at home. This is what I do.’ I spend my day at my kids’ school doing their activities. For them not to pick me, it was a shock.

On a different note, what was your best moment in the kitchen this season?

Everybody’s been asking about my cheesecake, and people have been asking for orders (laughs). But I’m actually proud of the lobster. Even though it ended the way it ended, I’d never butter-poached a lobster, but I’m happy with the comments I did get, and if I want to come home and butter-poach a lobster, I can do it.

Did you get a sense up there on the rooftop of how close it was between you and Luca? To be honest, even though Luca had had a lot of screen time, I wasn’t sure who was going to go home.

I really had no idea who was going to go home. With the compliments that I had, I thought that I had it; then, with the comments that he had, I thought ‘maybe I do have it,’ since he messed up on certain aspects of his lobsters. But I went home. It’s all good. I did what I did and I did my best.

Is there one opinion of the judges as a whole that you have now? Did you go in afraid of them?

I was afraid of Gordon. I’ve heard so much about Gordon, but when I got to know all three judges, Joe [Bastianich] is more of a hardball. Gordon is actually a really nice guy once you get to know him. Graham is just a big ol’ teddy bear. I went in afraid of Gordon, but I came out rather shocked.

The last question I have time for is just what happens next for you moving forward. Do you already have some goals and dreams in mind moving forward now that you’re off the show?

I want to open a food truck now. That’s my goal, and that’s what I’m heading towards. After that I want to open up my own restaurant, and if not that, I want to open up a cooking school for those kids in New York. There’s no home (economics) classes, so they don’t know how to cook and or fend for themselves. I would like to do a cooking class for teenagers around the area, so that they can get a grasp on how to cook so when they’re older, they know what they’re doing.

Are you going to miss Kathy on “MasterChef” the rest of the season? Be sure to share your thoughts below! If you want to check out a clip from tonight’s all-new episode, our suggestion is to head on over to the link here.

Photo: Fox

Love TV? Be sure to like Matt & Jess on Facebook for more updates!