Following its success on TV, MasterChef embarks on a new venture with the first-ever MasterChef culinary cruise event. Past winners and contestants (including this season's yet-to-be-announced champion) will join Graham Elliot on November 8, 2014, for a week long sail to St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Puerto Rico on board on board Holland America's Vista Class ship, the MS Westerdam. Fellow travelers will enjoy meet and greets, Q&A sessions with the stars, and more.
Amongst the participants is season four contestant and Bucks County native Bri Kozior. Here, we chat with her about the one-of-a-kind event, what she learned while on the show, and more.
Tell us about your experience on MasterChef. BRI KOZIOR: Being on MasterChef was one of the greatest experiences I've had. It has completely shaped who I am in the kitchen–any kitchen, be it personal or professional–and taught me about organization, taking chances, and having the patience to turn a dream into a reality. I suppose the latter might initially be associated with the dream of being a chef, but when it comes to putting things on the plate, I'm a dreamer. The biggest compliment I get about my food (other than silence and smiles) is its creativity. I have learned that it's important to have the patience to learn about ingredients and really form them into something magical on the plate. I love surprising people.
How did your upbringing in Bucks County shape the way you cook?
BK: I was fortunate enough to grow up in a beautiful small town. I'm not one of those people who will talk about how my struggles have shaped me as a chef or about how I wanted to make a better life for myself or my family. My family and I ate out a lot as a kid so I was introduced to good quality food early on, and as I got older, my mom and I would take road trips revolving around food. To this day, I'll still call her at 5:30 in the morning, waking her up and telling her to be dressed and ready in 20 minutes because there's a bakery I heard about two hours away and we just have to go "right now." Hoping that one day my food will be good enough for people to travel over the river and through the woods for, but most importantly, get special little moments out of it with loved ones. That is why I cook. Not for the food, but for the memories that come from it.
What is your go-to restaurant in Philly?
BK: As a kid, it was all about the cheesesteaks. Jim's Steak, on Fourth and South, extra American cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and ketchup (sorry PETA). Now I'm much more selective. Brunch at Honey's Sit N' Eat. Tacos and vegan wings at El Camino Real. And my all-time favorite, the Memphis Taproom. They do this smoked coconut and tofu club that I drool over. You will want to eat three, vegetarian or not. Trust me.
The first ever MasterChef cruise event kicks off later this year and you'll be on it. What can vacationers expect? What are you looking forward to the most?
BK: Yes! I'm so excited! I'll be cooking alongside some of my favorite MasterChef alum: my best friend from my season, (...and winner) Luca Manfé, winner of season 3, Christine Ha, winner of MasterChef Junior, Alexander Weiss, and the very talented Becky Reams from season 3. More importantly, chef Graham Elliot will be cooking alongside us as well and totally owning us all in the kitchen!
Vacationers can look forward to Q&A sessions, meet and greets, mystery boxes, pressure tests (ugh), and demos! I'll be demonstrating what to make if you're serving both vegetarians and meat eaters at a dinner party. I'm definitely looking forward to meeting all of the amazing fans, but, honestly, I'm just really excited to show everyone how far I've come since the show and to see what everyone else has been working on.
What can we expect from you next?
BK: I'm currently working as executive chef on a private yacht and love being on the water all the time. Being able to travel and cook is a dream come true. I'm planning on opening up a restaurant/burlesque club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the next few years...but who knows. I've been doing a lot more writing lately so maybe you'll see a book, and with my degree in theatre I wouldn't be surprised if you saw me cooking behind a camera sometime soon. My future is an open book and I can't wait to see what adventure the next page holds.