I recently announced a Q&A session on Facebook telling fans that they could ask me whatever question they wanted, and guaranteeing an answer to every question. Here are the questions I received and my responses.
Which cities/states in the US have you visited?
By visiting, I suppose you mean actually gone out and explored a little bit, not just pass through :). Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, South Padre Island, Austin (duh), Norman (Oklahoma), New Orleans, Atlanta, Washington DC, New York, Miami, Boston, Baton Rouge, Tallahassee…that’s all that I can think of for the moment.
Have you been to Chicago?
Outside of flying through ORD, no, unfortunately :(.
What is your favorite comfort food?
Tough one. Macaroni and cheese has always been up there. Fried Chicken gets me every time.
Do you have any soup idea you would recommend?
I love putting kale in soups! Brown some italian sausage and leeks, add chicken stock and potatoes, after potatoes are cooked add some fresh herbs, and toss in some torn kale a minute before serving. Delicious, and (if you drain the fat from the browned sausage) healthy!
Any advice for coming out to people that it might be hard to come out to?
Coming out is always very personal and unique to each individual person and their situation. What I’ve always done is to prepare myself for the worst case scenario and make sure I have a way out/can handle it. The first person I ever came out to was to my best friend at the time, a week before I left for college. I reasoned that if he rejected me and wanted nothing to do with me, then I was about to go off to college anyways and have a fresh start. In college, I came out to the friends I made very early in the friendship, before we got really close, so if it ended up being an issue with them, then it wasn’t a big deal to shrug it off and find somebody new to hang out with. And even with my parents, who I knew wouldn’t like the news, I came out to them on the way to the airport for MasterChef (with me in the driver’s seat, just in case), so even if they took it poorly, I had something to look forward to. The key is to make sure that if the “worst-case” scenario comes true, you have a way to handle it. It’s a terrible thing for somebody (say, a 13-year-old kid) to come out to somebody (say, his parents), to be rejected, and to not have a way to escape that rejection. That’s why I caution people against coming out too early, and am very thankful that I had the chance to come out when I did. It really was the perfect time for me.
I have been dating this guy for a month now and in two weeks he will come over to my house for dinner. What can I possibly make to impress him? He likes to eat pork.
You should make my pork ribs! A famous family recipe :). Take some pork ribs (baby back or back ribs preferred), and sprinkle them liberally with salt (about 3 tablespoons per rack, depending on size), sugar (double the amount of salt), sliced green onion (about 2 stalks per rack), julienned ginger (about 2 ounces per rack), soy sauce (3 tbs per rack), and pepper to taste, rubbing well after each ingredient. Let it marinate for at least an hour in the fridge, up to overnight. Place on a baking sheet, cover TIGHTLY with foil, and roast at 400F for 1 hour (for one rack) or 1 1/2 hours (for two racks). Carefully remove from oven and set oven to BROIL (if you don’t have a broil setting, just use the highest temp possible). Uncover ribs (be careful with the steam), brush your favorite barbecue sauce on top of the ribs (if homemade, even better!), and when your oven comes to temp, pop it under the broiler until the top gets all caramelized and bubbly (about 5 minutes, depending on your oven. Carefully remove, slice into individual ribs, and serve. Hope you have a fabulous date!
Is it true you kissed a girl and didn’t like it?
Ha ha, I have never kissed ANYBODY in a romantic way before. No guys, no girls. Remember how I said that I didn’t believe in dating in high school in my MasterChef audition? In retrospect, I might rephrase my sentiments to say “Most people should avoid dating in high school because they are not ready for the responsibilities that come with a relationship. I sure wasn’t!” but I digress… I have given a few pecks on the cheek (bises), but the only person that’s pecked me on the lips is the lovely Jennie Kelley, haha!. We were saying our goodbyes before I left for Canada. It came as a surprise and made me blush, but it wasn’t romantic :). Still waiting on that first kiss…
What is your favourite dessert to cook?
Umm…not apple pie. Creme brulées are always good, because the ingredients are readily availble, and if you have a reliable oven (and a blowtorch), it’s fairly easy to make and always impresses. Dessert is probably the one type of food that I have the least mastery over, though.
Who is your favorite person on MasterChef?
Probably Christine, because we started a friendship fairly early, and after filming was over I was able to go down to Houston fairly often to visit. I watched my elimination episode with her at her house and cried while holding her hand :P. But I love all of my fellow MC3 cast members! If you’re talking about the judges, probably Chef Ramsay, because I genuinely felt like we had a bit of a connection, and he was always the most fun to talk to.
What is your favourite Thai food?
Ohhh man. I love all sorts of curries (not too spicy though, please!), green papaya salad, any form of coconut dessert. I don’t know the names of most of the Thai food I eat (I just look at the descriptions on the menu, haha!), but Thai food is one of my absolute favorites.
Have you ever been to Vietnam?
Unfortunately not. The only Asian countries I’ve “visited” (using the same criteria as above for visiting cities) are China and the Philippines. Never been to Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, etc, though I’ve flown through the last two. If I have the means, I’d love to visit someday!
If you were to have your own cooking show, what would be the show’s name?
Hmm, never thought about this. It would depend on a lot of things actually, like that the theme of the show is (is it quick dinners? unique ingredients? food with finesse? comfort food? etc). What I have thought about is if I open a restaurant someday, I want my flagship restaurant to be named M.C.
That’s all the questions I have for now! If this is popular enough I may make this a weekly thing. Start thinking what you want to ask for the next edition :).