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Hello! My name is Michael Chen, and as I’m sure you know by now, I was a contestant on Season 3 of FOX’s MasterChef. I’ve also recently come out to my friends and family, amid mixed reactions as I was raised in a conservative Chinese Christian environment.
I was born in Shanghai, China, and moved to Austin, TX when I was 3. Being almost 20 now, Austin is where I’ve lived for the better part of 16 years, save for a brief stint in College Station for one semester of college at Texas A&M until MasterChef changed my life forever.
I had to give up everything I was taught to value in order to pursue my dream. The security of a college education. A promising career in the high paying meteorology field (one of my professors had predicted that I would be a “hot commodity” in the field). My new friends that I had just gotten to know. My parents’ financial support. My self-esteem, as being a good student was really the only thing I was ever good at. Has it been worth it? So far, it has, but in the long term only time will tell.
I believe in food as artistry, not just nourishment. Being so young, I know that I have a lot to learn. My dream one day is to open a restaurant utilizing a farm-to-table philosophy, where care has been taken every step of the way to ensure the highest quality food. I believe in eating food not only with the mouth, but the eyes as well. I believe that a balance of flavors, textures, and colors is necessary to compose a complete dish.
When I came back from MasterChef, I worked a few shifts doing some prep work at the Jalopy, one of the top food trucks in Austin. Since then, I’ve had the honor of staging at the now-famous Barley Swine, under Bryce Gilmore. Recently, I’ve also been helping out in the kitchen at the legendary Uchiko for a few weeks. Hopefully this list will grow with many more wonderful experiences in the upcoming few months and years.
I love food, I love tennis. I love people, I love Christ. I love adventure, I love peace and quiet. To me, heaven is a place where love always wins. Lord, hasten the day.