By Janice Malone
It’s been less than two weeks since the world watched home cook Dorian Hunter become the winner of MasterChef Season 10. Fox’s rough, tough and competitive cooking show, starring the no-nonsense Chef Gordon Ramsay, not only celebrated its tenth season and 200th episode but Ms. Hunter’s phenomenal win made history, as she is the first African American female to win the popular show’s coveted title. Nashville’s own Gerron Hurt was the first African American male to win the title for Season 9.
For 2019, the show had 20,000 hopeful home chefs sign up for a chance to display their culinary talents. Among those thousands, only 36 were selected, with Dorian Hunter becoming the last chef standing. This year’s $250,000 prize was the show’s largest in its history plus, the winner gets a Viking kitchen and the opportunity to train in one of each judge’s restaurant.
Hunter, who’s originally from South Carolina, now makes her home in the Atlanta area, with her husband and four children. Life before MasterChef found Dorian working at a carpet manufacturing plant, far removed from the glitz and glamour of television. But she managed to hang on to her dreams of one day owning a restaurant and having a full-time career in the culinary world. Both of those dreams and then some will soon come to fruition within the next two years. She dedicated her win to her mom, who first taught her how to cook. Here, Dorian shares more details about her history-making win as the new MasterChef Season 10 champion.
QUESTION: You won the MasterChef title nearly 2 months ago, but the public just got the news less than two weeks ago. How difficult was it to keep the win a secret?
CHEF DORIAN: It wasn’t really that hard. The majority of my siblings were there with me, so I had the outlet to talk about it amongst us. We didn’t really want to ruin that moment for our other family and friends. We wanted people to enjoy the show and not ruin the outcome for anybody.
QUESTION: Not only are you the winner of the 10th season, you’re also the first African American female to win the show. Does this win have kind of a double victory for you in a way or what?
CHEF DORIAN: It’s a double win because not only am I the first African American woman to win, but I am the oldest person to win MasterChef (age 45). So, it just shows that anything is possible. Some would say ten years is a long time, but whatever is in God’s plan is in God’s plan, time doesn’t mean anything. It’s never too late to dust those dreams off. I’m proof of that.
QUESTION: Meeting Chef Ramsay, is he as tough away from the cameras as he appears to be?
CHEF DORIAN: Meeting and working with Chef Ramsay is just bigger than life. Throughout the entire competition, I continued to be starstruck over working with him. I’ve always wanted to meet him but never thought I would. And, here I am, you know, traveling in London, standing in that MasterChef kitchen with him and being able to see him everyday. His attitude on MasterChef is of a mentor, he is a teacher there, he’s a person that you can ask questions to and not get your head chopped off. But I have to honestly say, who doesn’t want to get yelled at by Chef Ramsay! (she laughs)
QUESTION: Give us the thumbnail version of how you ended up competing on MasterChef?
CHEF DORIAN: My mom and I used to watch the show together all of the time before she passed away, almost three years ago. After her passing, it was a lot of grief for me. Just a really rough time in my life. One day my sister-in-law called me, telling me about auditions here in Atlanta at the Art Institute. I printed out the application and sat on it forever. But the day before the audition, I finally filled it out. So, I get to the audition and I’m the very first person there. I told my husband, ‘I’m leaving. It’s not for me. It’s not going to work.’ But husband wouldn’t let me go home. I saw the audition through, and the rest is what everybody saw on TV. I just stepped out on faith and took a chance on myself and God.
QUESTION: Now that you’ve won the $250,000 are you suddenly hearing from long lost relatives and friends that you haven’t heard from since kindergarten?
CHEF DORIAN: I’ve been practicing the word ‘NO’ a lot! And yes, I have heard from people that I never knew I had encountered. But let’s be real $250,000.00 after taxes is, not going to make you rich, but it can give you a nice little nest egg.
Follow Chef Dorian: www.chefdorian.com; www.facebook.com/ChefDorianMasterchef10; Instagram at chefdorian_masterchef10