Buchanan High School graduate Lauren Scott had confidence in her cooking skills when she decided to audition for the new ABC cooking reality show "The Taste."
She has loved cooking all her life and as a child often would proclaim that when she grew up she wanted "to be a cooker."
The only part of being on the show that gave her pause was stepping in front of TV cameras to face the celebrity judging panel of Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey.
Having to persuade people you admire and respect that you have great culinary skills -- through one bite of a dish -- is enough to give anyone jitters.
Scott, who now lives in Laurel, Miss., says she was able to get through the initial episode and win a spot as one of the 16 finalists because of another passion she pursued while growing up in Fresno. The 24-year-old regularly appeared in theater productions with Good Company Players at Roger Rocka's, Children's Musical Theaterworks and CenterStage Clovis.
"That helped with my confidence," Scott says just days after being selected to Lawson's team. "Seeing those intimidating faces, standing in front of the mentors, can be nerve-wracking. I did cry on camera. But because of my theater training, I didn't lose my cool."
In her first on-screen audition, Scott offered each judge one spoon of Flourless Chocolate Cake. Competitors can only serve one spoon of their creation to the judges.
It was a bold move. Most of the other contestants were making savory dishes and Scott thought something sweet would make her stand out, especially with Lawson. It wasn't until the night before facing the panel that Scott settled on making a cake.
Her tactic worked and she joined Lawson's team of four competitors. Tonight, the real competition starts as all 16 contestants again try to impress the judges enough to continue to move through the weekly battles.
Being on Lawson's team is the icing on the cake for Scott.
"She is everything I expected her to be. I love Nigella because she's so real. She might seem to be perfect on camera, but she's not afraid to be herself. Plus, I'm also a curvy girl," Scott says.
Scott finally became "a cooker" on her own. There wasn't a lot of fancy cooking in her home when she was growing up, so creating fancy dishes is something she has learned through jobs during college. It wasn't until she enrolled at Cal Poly that Scott finally got some culinary experience working in the school cafeteria and later as a sous chef.
She will get to show off her cooking skills as she tries to win "The Taste." Should the competition get too much for her, Scott will turn to the one food that gives her comfort -- chocolate. She keeps plenty in stock when she needs a boost.
She's never been a picky eater, but there is one item you will not see in any of her dishes for the TV show: "I think grapefruit is disgusting," Scott says.
The Taste, 8 p.m. Tuesdays on KFSN (Ch. 30.1)
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559)441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org
or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.