By Sammi Turano

Tell me a bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Cincinnati, OH and a midwestern girl at heart.  I have since relocated to San Diego, CA.  I am a proud dog momma and a lover of everything food.  I have worked with individuals with disabilities since I was fourteen years old- starting out as a volunteer with the City of San Diego, Therapeutic Recreation Services (TRS).  I went on to become a part time employee after high school and moved into a full-time role my last few years of college.  I ran the kids and teen program with TRS where we planned recreation and social events for children with disabilities.  Working with these populations completely changed my life and I couldn’t be more grateful for the time I’ve gotten to spend with them.

What made you decide to go on MasterChef?

MasterChef was initially an avenue to challenge myself both personally and professionally.  Personally, the idea of speaking in public, let alone being on a national TV show was WAY outside of my comfort zone.  I wanted to push myself to achieve something I never thought possible.  Professionally speaking, I have always wanted food to be a part of my career path.  However, I had no idea where to start or what that was going to look like.  The idea of having the opportunity to learn from some of the best chefs in the world was a dream come true.  So, I went for it. 

What was the experience like?

It was an intense experience!  Talk about pressure.  I have always been involved in competitive sports and consider myself a pretty competitive person that can cope with challenging situations.  However, this was a whole new ballgame. 

That being said – what I gained from the experience – not only in my personal development, but also the amazing culinary techniques was such an invaluable blessing.

What is your signature dish?

I love making different versions of eggs benedict.  Breakfast is often my cooking category of choice and eggs benedict is a simple dish that looks pretty impressive in the morning! ?

What is one thing you want to learn how to cook?

Turducken!  How in the world do you stuff one bird into another bird?!

That would be awesome, but on a more serious note – I want to get better with my candies and dessert accompaniments.  I love seeing the artistry that chefs put into their dessert dishes and would love to develop my skills in that field more.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I have a Korean sister named Sarah.

Korean BBQ is my favorite and I’ve been working hard to replicate those flavors- not quite there yet…

What are you watching on TV these days?

I do look forward to watching MasterChef every week.

Besides that, I can’t wait for Game of Thrones to come back out and am a huge Modern Family fan.  I also watch reruns of The Office on a probably too regular basis.

Anything else you want to tell America?

Never believe that you can’t accomplish your dreams.  Surround yourself with people who believe in you.  Work hard and be fearless.  

If you’re not happy with your path, don’t be afraid to change it.

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