‘MasterChef’ exclusive: Jordan Roots on experience, big personalities, and quail

Jordan tells all -Once you make it to a certain point in “MasterChef,” you really do get to where you have to be at least partially satisfied with how far you’ve come. Even if you don’t win, you took down thousands of other home cooks across America, and have proven yourself worthy of having a career in this field. At the end of the day, that’s pretty impressive, and is also the situation that Jordan Roots now finds himself in a week after his elimination from the culinary competition.

Earlier today, we chatted with Jordan a bit about what he was hoping to get out of this competition, how he is looking to overcome a certain quail that had conquered him on the show, and what he is hoping to get out of the culinary profession moving forward now that he has this crazy, hyper-stressful situation under his belt.

CarterMatt – Does it feel strange having to sit back and watch yourself go through this experience now, especially after going through this the first time months ago?

Jordan Roots – Yeah, you totally re-live it in a different light. You think it’s going to be easy to watch, but you don’t know what they are going to show of you. Sometimes you don’t even remember what you said or did. Sometimes it just all molds together, so it’s really good and bad having to relive it.

Were there any things, whether it be from confessionals from other contestants or something else, that you were surprised to see on the show?

Nothing really surprised me. We were pretty open as a group. I would tell people ‘yeah, I didn’t like your dish.’ I’m not somebody to hold back like that.

There are so many things that can go wrong on this show, like getting told off by the judges or getting a bad edit. What made you want to go through with this in the first place?

Peer pressure was the main factor for me … I host little dinner parties every now and then for friends and family, and a friend of a friend actually started pushing for me to go out and audition. I kind of blew it off because I didn’t think it was for me, and I never thought my path would be through reality TV, especially a cooking show.

But I came back and checked out my email, looked at it again, and said ‘maybe I should give it a shot’ … A little bit more peer pressure and I finally said that ‘you know what, I’ll go try out.’ I thought I would have a fun story to tell my friends. And then here I am now.

Was there any part in the audition process where you really started to feel like you were getting on the show, or did you just find it better to have no real expectations at all?

I didn’t expect to make it past the first round of auditions. It was something that was fun to do, and I didn’t have any expectations. I don’t think you can look at it and say ‘I’m going to win this’ when I wasn’t even out in LA yet. You can’t have expectations on something like this. You don’t know what they’re looking for, and I didn’t know the competition. I didn’t know if these were [practically] Michelin star home cooks, or Joe Schmoes who didn’t know how to make a tuna salad.

I didn’t expect making it half as far as I did, but I don’t regret trying out. (Laughs.)

In going through this competition, what was the most stressful part of this: Was it dealing with the competitions, some of the big personalities, taking on the judges, or something else?

I’m a big personality, as well, so it was kind of easy to either get along with the big personalities or clash. It was easier in the beginning to get along; when it gets to the nitty-gritty, that is where it gets difficult. It’s no-holds-barred, and you have to do what you have to do. It’s never a happy day waking up and you’re always nervous. That’s why what made the [confidence] come out was nerves. I would cover up my anxiety or my stress level with acting very confident, and hopefully psyching out my competition.

That’s the real unknown; you never know what you’re cooking or doing the next day, so it all boils down to just [having] a healthy amount of stress, and not an anxiety level of stress.

So when it comes to Krissi, do you have any ill will towards her over giving you the quail last week, and do you think you would have been able to do fine with any other protein?

First of all, she played it perfectly … She got rid of me and that was smart on her part. I had never [prepared] a quail, and did not have the culinary knowledge of what to do with it. It was like Gordon [Ramsay] said, I tried to look at it proportionately.

Now that you’ve been through this, is quail one of those things now that you want to conquer, and try to do a number of different things with it?

Yeah I actually talked with Graham, and he pointed me towards the Cornish game hens. They are maybe a little bit bigger than quails, but he told me that he pretty much treated quail the same way. When I got back I tried to source the quail and didn’t have any luck, so I started fooling around and [cooking with the hens]. But if I ever get an establishment going, you can bet all of your hard-earned money that there will be a quail dish on that menu.

Well that’s a good transition into this. Is a restaurant something that you want to open now that you’ve done the show? I’m sure you’ve spent a little bit of time lately trying to think about this.

Originally I think I always wanted a brick-and-mortar restaurant, but it’s a hard industry to get into and survive; the failure of new restaurants makes it tough. Personally, I love the idea of a personal chef and a small-time caterer, [who will] come to your house and make you five or ten courses. A more gourmet form of catering is right up my alley.

However, right now I’m looking for experience. I’m not going settle down for a few years, so I’m ready to try things and travel the country, maybe travel the world. I need experience. One thing ‘MasterChef’ has showed is that you don’t know everything, you need to go out and learn things. I’m a culinary sponge now, and I want to soak up every aspect I can get, and maybe settle down into a restaurant or some sort of catering business.

Are you sad to see Jordan go? If you want to read more of our “MasterChef” coverage, including some of our other most-recent contestant interviews, just be sure to check out the story over at the link here.

Photo: Fox

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