Seby Joseph may have just graduated high school, but he also may be the next “MasterChef.”
The McAllen resident auditioned last year for the Fox hit series MasterChef, starring Chefs Gordon Ramsay and Graham Elliot and restaurateur Joe Bastianich.
Joseph, 18, recently received his diploma from Lamar Academy and has his sight set on attending the Art Institute of Austin or the renowned Le Cordon Bleu culinary institute in Paris.
First, though, he took a shot in the dark and signed up for the second season of the cooking competition, which features amateur home cooks. He is one of 100 hopefuls selected for the show.
“I’ve (had) a passion for cooking since I was young, about 12 years old,” Joseph says. “I just really wanted to show off my skills to the whole world.”
He also wants to help others reach their goals. He said he has seen and heard of other teens who want to become chefs but run into opposition from their parents. He empathizes with them.
“I know exactly what they’re going through,” he says. “I just want to teach them that it’s a really good profession.”
The teen began cooking as a hobby because he didn’t really have anything to do, he says. Slowly, cooking developed into a passion and Joseph realized he could turn his love of food and cooking into a career.
“My ultimate goal is to personally have my own restaurant maybe sometime in the future, and hopefully, I just want to go around the world, really,” he says.
Coincidentally, Joseph’s biggest inspiration is the man hosting MasterChef.
“The person who really inspired me was a chef. His name was Gordon Ramsay. I’d just see this person on TV all the time and I just thought, ‘Hey, he’s a really amazing person. I really want to be like him one day.’”
When Joseph had the opportunity to meet Ramsay, the teen was impressed.
“He’s a really good guy,” he says. “One of the best people I’ve met, actually.”
Ramsay may be best known as the host of the U.S. version of the television series Hell’s Kitchen, but the chef and restaurateur also owns several restaurants, hosts other TV shows and has written many cookbooks and an autobiography.
Elliot owns a restaurant in Chicago and in 2004 was named “Best New Chef” by Food and Wine magazine. He also appeared on two seasons of cable channel Bravo’s cooking competition series Top Chef Masters.
Bastianich is a well-known restaurateur with establishments in New York and Las Vegas. He also owns wineries in Italy and Argentina.
The three judges help guide the inexperienced chefs through tough challenges throughout the competition.
“Personally, I thought these guys are the biggest icons in the culinary world and they’re right at you, judging every single move that you make,” Joseph says. “And I think that’s more of a harder part than actually cooking.”
Joseph, who is originally from India, auditioned for the show with an Indian-inspired dish that he gave a slight twist.
“It’s called chicken biryani,” he says.
Traditionally, the dish is steamed and includes layers of chicken and rice seasoned with a homemade curry.
Joseph marinated his chicken in various spices and yogurt and then seared the meat.
“(Searing) makes it more tender and juicier in the later process,” he says.
He combined other ingredients in an oven-safe dish and baked it in an oven at a very low heat.
Joseph plans to focus on Indian cuisine, but since he has been cooking more Mexican dishes, he says he notices a parallel of spices and flavor profiles between the two cuisines.
“I try to use a whole bunch of cilantro, cumin … and it works almost every single time — better results than I imagined,” he says.
Joseph says his biggest challenge is his lack of experience compared with older home chefs.
“I was only 18 years old at the time, and there were people there who were twice my age,” he says.
The competition promises to be tough, but Joseph remains confident.
“They’re amazing,” he says of the judges. “Gordon Ramsay himself owns over 29 restaurants worldwide. Like, he’s the real deal. If you can get through him, you can get through anything else.”
Amy Nichol Smith covers features and entertainment for The Monitor. She can be reached at (956) 683-4420.