While most students are trying to cook ramen noodles in their dorms, University of Miami senior O’Shane Elliott is doing it on national television and will get to showcase his talent on “Chopped,” a Food Network show.
The special college edition features four other students from New York University, Northwestern University and the University of Washington. Elliott applied last fall, received a call in November and shot the episode in February.
“I applied just to apply, even if I didn’t get picked. I didn’t expect it,” Elliott said. “I even forgot about it until I got the call.”
Elliott said he decided to apply because being on “Chopped” had been a dream of his since he was a child, remembering how many times he would watch the show whenever it was on. As a true fan, he even had a subscription to FoodNetwork.com.
“As a kid, I think I was 12, I sent Food Network an email saying they should have more kids on their shows, and now that they do, it makes me think they actually read my email,” he said. “It’s like a dream come true, even though I’m old enough to be a chef, too old to be a kid, but still young enough to be found interesting.”
As a senior in college, he understood the struggle of making food that was not expensive. He admits that his favorite meals were Ramen and Chef Boyardee but he would add steamed vegetables to add more health to his diet.
His passion for cooking started with cooking with his grandmother until she passed in 2001, but he continued the hobby with his mother. From it, he learned a few lessons he still uses today.
“Salt is life, always salt your food,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to do things on the spot, it doesn’t always work out but next time you know not to do it again.”
This same advice traveled with him to New York when he shot the episode, even though he says“so many hopes and dreams were left on that show” since a lot of what he wanted to make did not turn out as he wanted.
Although much of reality television is scripted, Elliott said everything on “Chopped” was real, including the amount of time left to cook and the stress it takes to put it all together.
“They don’t let you pause and do it again, cooking is what it is,” he said.
Aside from being a part of the “really cool experience,” Elliott appreciated being able to “cook at a level that’s wasn’t professional, but wasn’t in my house either,” even though “everything falls apart and burns,” he said.
“I just really thought the best part about it was meeting the other people who participated and work with a stock full of food that I’ll never have again until I’m 30,” he said.
He hopes students watch the show to see the University of Miami represented on a national scale and even learn a few tricks for the nights when they only have mac and cheese for dinner.
The college special edition of “Chopped” airs on the Food Network channel at 9 p.m. Sept. 10.
Feature photo Courtesy of O’Shane Elliott.