One of the all time greatest honors of my career to date – is being invited onto MASTERCHEF as a guest judge! Watch out for me in Part One of the two-hour Season Finale airing Monday, Sept. 15 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT), when the Top Three home cooks, Elizabeth Cauvel, an advertising executive from Brooklyn, NY; Leslie Gilliams, a stay-at-home dad from Malibu, CA; and Courtney Lapresi, an aerial dancer from Philadelphia, PA. will face their most intimidating challenge yet.

Judges Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliot greeted us with  “in a MASTERCHEF first, 50 of the most notable chefs –representing all 50 states – visit the MASTERCHEF restaurant as special guest judges to determine which home cook will immediately advance to the finale.” It was hard to keep my jaw from dropping – the set is stunning and the production company run that show with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker. Everyone was so gracious, including Chef Ramsey who planted a wet one on my cheek before I knew what hit me when I went to shake his hand after the show.

50 of the most notable chefs – representing all 50 states

50 of the most notable chefs – representing all 50 states

It was an absolute joy to be amongst so many of my culinary heroes – including celebrity chef personalities Cat Cora (Kouzzina) and Duff Goldman (Charm City Cakes); Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Animal, Son of a Gun), and Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken (Border Grill). In fact, my family LOVED Susan Feniger’s new restaurant Mud Hen Tavern when I took them there for dinner just this week.

Semi-Finalists Elizabeth, Leslie, and Courtney

Semi-Finalists Elizabeth, Leslie, and Courtney

We did tape the show last spring, so it has been kind of weird to watch one of my favorite competition shows, knowing in advance who makes it to the semi-finals. Luckily, I have no idea what happens after the first round of judging, so I’ll be watching with anticipation on Monday night along with everyone else when the finalists face the next pressure test, during which they must successfully complete three classic American desserts: New York Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie and Boston Cream Pie. The home cook with the best desserts will move on to the finals.

Judge Julie

Guest Judge Julie

In the second hour, the final challenge in the MASTERCHEF kitchen, the Top Two home cooks will have one last chance to prove to the judges that they deserve the MASTERCHEF title. After evaluating the final dishes, the judges will reveal America’s next MASTERCHEF, and the deserving home cook will walk away with a MASTERCHEF trophy, a book deal and the $250,000 grand prize. Who do you think will win?

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