I love watching reality programs about cooking because unlike some of the other reality competitions, if you don’t cook well, you don’t make it. There’s less chance of someone stabbing you in the back or being sabotaged. The meals speak for themselves.

Food Network has a program called “Chopped,” where four contestants make three dishes (appetizer, main and dessert) in a certain amount of time. But, there’s a twist: each round has its own basket of three or four mystery ingredients that must be worked into each dish (they also have access to a pantry with a fair amount of extra ingredients and equipment). And let me tell you, some of the combinations in those baskets are terrifying. For example, in an appetizer round you might find these items: watermelon, pepperjack cheese, canned sardines and zucchini. For dessert, you might get jicama, blueberries and pepitas.

I love learning about new ingredients, but the best part is seeing how these chefs, sometimes classically trained, cope with the ingredients and the amazingly tasty results. I even like to play along and ponder what kind of dish I’d make. But tonight’s episode, “Sweet Second Chance!” blew me away for a different reason altogether.

The episode featured chefs who hadn’t won so everyone was even more determined to win. One of the chefs, Yoanne, wanted to win so she could fly back to France and see her grandmother who was very ill. During the main round, she was on her way to the back of the kitchen to drain her potatoes. Somehow she slipped and dumped boiling water all over her legs. I can’t even imagine how horrible that must have felt; I know I would have just been on the floor bawling my eyes out from the pain, but she picked herself back up, calmly announced to the judges she had saved the potatoes and kept working. She did admit she was in a lot of pain, but she wanted to finish and make it to the end. In my book, she should have won just for that!!

Yoanne made it to the dessert round with Lance (items in the basket: duck eggs, Russet potatoes, farmer’s cheese, honey herb cough drops). Both produced tasty looking dishes and the judges liked both of them for various reasons. While waiting for the verdict, both chefs sincerely congratulated each other and Lance commented he felt Yoanne should be the winner.

In the end, Lance won, but that’s when the biggest surprise of all came. Before Yoanne left the room, Lance asked her to wait. He said he came in not expecting to win the money. He felt it was more important was for Yoanne to get back to France to see her grandmother and said he would pay for her ticket.

Everyone in the room (and I’m pretty sure everyone watching at home) was absolutely silent and fighting back tears. It was the most honest and real moment I have ever seen in a reality program ever. It was so refreshing to see someone do something so wonderful for all the right reasons, and not just to look good in front of the cameras. It reminded me that there are still some decent people in the world. I hope everyone who saw this episode was just as touched as I was and will not only spread the word, but will also start doing some random acts of kindness.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle
    Nov 12, 2013 @ 17:29:12

    I just watched this on amazon prime and am bawling! My stepson is an executive chef in Vegas. I know how nasty that world can be. I’m sure everyone is in awe of Lances kindness. I want to know if she made that trip and healed from her injuries. I really liked her too.


    • conversebear
      Dec 07, 2013 @ 23:11:12

      Hi Michelle, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reply-it didn’t tell me I had a comment waiting!

      I watch lots of cooking shows and there have been many other chefs who are just as kind as he was, but Lance and Yoanne are the ones I remember best, and it still leaves me in awe. I read an interview with Lance a few months ago: every time the episode airs, he receives many emails commenting on his generosity.

      Apparently he’d planned to tell her after production. He asked for her contact information, but when the crew learned of his intentions, they asked if he’d be willing to do it on camera.

      Unfortunately I haven’t heard any news about Yoanne’s trip, but I did learn her restaurant closed this summer. I’m hoping she’ll be able to get back on her feet soon.


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