Presenting anything you cook to others can be intimidating, especially when it’s Gordon Ramsay! There’s a whole new level of raw nervousness that is certainly palpable to viewers as they watch the excitement unfold each week on MasterChef.
However, for former U.S. Army Interrogator and Season 10 runner-up, Sarah Faherty, working under intense pressure is nothing new. In fact, her background in the military is something she attributes to her success on the cooking show. As someone who thrives under pressure, Gordon’s charisma certainly kept her on her toes, but also fueled her to compete at her very best.
So what’s it like to be on MasterChef and have Gordon Ramsay standing over your shoulder as a mentor/kitchen drill sergeant? Sarah recently sat down with Taste of Home to share her experience, and some of the biggest cooking lessons she learned from being on the show.
1. Pressure Can Be Good
Ramsay is just as famous for his food as his fiery spirit in the kitchen. While Sarah confirmed that the yelling is certainly real, she learned quickly that having that added pressure in the kitchen is what helped push herself to the next level.
“People can see it [in Gordon]. He’s just so passionate. His intensity really does come from a good place. He wants you to perform at your best and he’s not afraid to push you past the point of comfort because that’s how we all grow. He loves to teach. He loves to help.”
2. Trust Your Instincts
One of the greatest changes Sarah has seen in herself since the show has been her confidence. One of her greatest takeaways from Ramsay was to trust her instincts in the kitchen. Sarah recalled a specific example comparing the lamb she prepared on two occasions.
“Gordon has this insane talent where he can literally come over and touch whatever piece of protein is on your station and know exactly what temperature it’s going to be in the center after it’s rested. It’s very intimidating initially but it’s something that comes through experience and learning to trust yourself.
In the auditions, I used the temperature gauge on my lamb to make sure that it was good. However, in the finale, I didn’t use a temperature gauge at all. I touched it. And I just felt like I was very confident in what the temperature was going to be inside.”
While he may not need a thermometer to test the temperature of his lamb chops, find out what kitchen gadget Gordon Ramsay can’t live without.
3. Know Your Limits
It wasn’t always a “cakewalk” for Sarah on MasterChef. Viewers of Season 10 will recall Sarah was nearly eliminated during cake week when her ambitious cake didn’t get out of the oven in time to properly cool before decorating. Luckily, this mishap wasn’t enough to send Sarah home and she was able to learn from this mistake to carry her on through the competition.
“Everything is not always going to turn out perfect. But that’s kind of OK. It’s part of the learning process. The cool thing in the cake week situation is that I learned from that experience. Choosing that cake was a terrible idea. Way too much work. I learned to not bite off more than you can chew and then make sure that you’re always properly gauging the competition.”
4. Believe in Yourself
Sarah explains that she feels a lot of people struggle with impostor syndrome, including herself. It’s this constant question of, “am I good enough” or “am I as qualified as this person” that holds people back from pursuing their dreams.
“If you have a passion for something, then you deserve to be there. Don’t let any sort of impostor syndrome keep you from doing what you love. Instead of asking, ‘why me?’ say, ‘why not me?’ I think that is the biggest thing that I learned.”
5. Tell a Story
During Sarah’s time overseas in the military, she often used food to take a piece of home with her wherever she went. For Sarah, food has always been about the people, the culture and the stories that surround it.
“I don’t think being on MasterChef changed my food philosophy. I think it has just made me dive a little bit deeper into it. It especially brought out more of the aspect of telling a whole story when it comes to food and wine.”
What’s next for Sarah? While she didn’t take the top prize, her culinary career is far from over. Her next venture is launching a culinary podcast called Everyday Food & Wine in early 2020. The podcast will feature Sarah and an exciting line-up of food and wine experts discussing different wines, how they’re made, the stories behind them and the foods they pair perfectly with.
Keep up with Sarah (@sarah_faherty) and her upcoming podcast (@everydayfoodandwine) by following her on Instagram. And learn more kitchen secrets from Gordon Ramsay and other culinary top chefs with these cardinal rules of cooking.