After including the Master Chef Open Auditions in our Weekend What’s Up, Beth Hondl and I decided to head down to Maiden Lane’s Sur La Table to see if we could film some of the action. After all, reality show casting in the middle of Union Square seemed like a perfect event for “The Beths” to cover.

Even Brock found the idea interesting and decided to join us, offering to carry our crap while we filmed. So Sunday afternoon, the three of us marched down Maiden Lane, delighted to find a crowd of hundreds huddled underneath a tent, waiting for their big shot to present their room-temperature food to the reality show Gods.

Often when filming a “Beths” video, we’ve received prior permission from someone involved in the event. In fact, sometimes we’re even invited to cover shindigs and delight in not having to worry we’ll be escorted out by security. But Sunday, we hadn’t bothered to alert a soul from “Master Chef” we planned to film the excitement. And standing in the street with camera equipment, we weighed our options.

1. We could introduce ourselves to the important looking woman with a clipboard and risk the old hands in the air, “No, no, no. Absolutely not.”

2. We could just start trying to interview folks in line and hope no one of authority saw us.

Occasionally, getting people to agree to answer a couple of questions on camera is like pulling teeth. Not with this crowd.
We went with option 1. Let’s be nice, we figured. Maiden Lane is public property, but it seemed like letting someone know we weren’t up to anything sinister seemed wise. I walked over to clipboard, waited for several Master Chef hopefuls to ask their stupid questions and managed to introduce myself.

“You’re from what?”

I explained what the internet was and clipboard went to go get the Casting Director. By this time, Hondl had come over. “What’s the story?”

“She’s getting the casting director.”


5 minutes later, the gorgeous Lyle emerged from within Sur La Table and handed us his business cards. He’s a Casting Director at Fox! Glamorous! Hondl and I explained that we cover fun local events and that we’d like to interview some folks in line.

I braced myself for Fox-y Lyle to tell us to shove off.

“Awesome!” He smiled. “That sounds great. Let me know if you have any questions for me. And maybe later, I’ll see if I can get you inside to check out what we’re doing downstairs.”

Really?!?!? Really.

All Lyle asked was that we not interview folks as they left the judging process. I guess they want to keep the ins and out of their casting under wraps. Fine with us. We’re not doing an expose on reality show cattle calls. He wished us well and we were off.

Occasionally, getting people to agree to answer a couple of questions on camera is like pulling teeth. Not with this crowd. Obviously, these folks were delighted to be on television. We walked up and down the lines and after a couple of interviews, people would call out to us.

“I’ll do it!”

“Interview my mom!”

Trying to get a mix of hopefuls, we approached one middle aged woman standing there holding her plate of gruel.

She took one look at us and sneered, “Not interested.”

Lady, you’ve been standing in line for 4 hours to audition for a reality show. I interviewed the gentleman next to her and made a big to-do about what I thought the casting folks might look for. “We’re rooting for you!” I screamed. “You’re SO likeable!”

Once again, like the angel Gabriel floating down from on high, Lyle emerged and invited us inside and downstairs. Asked to merely stay out of the way as best we could, we pointed out where we might want to film and left us to it.

Hondl and I couldn’t believe our luck.

As we filmed, an energetic, tiny woman bumped into Hondl’s camera. “Oh, I’m so sorry.” She said.

“That’s okay. Are you one of the judges? Can we interview you?”

“Sure!” She looked up at me. “I’m the supervising producer.”

It’s very interesting to me that the occasional rinky-dink suburban publicist acts like we’re the Taliban trying to get footage to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge and big fancy national casting directors and producers are like, “Sure! What can we tell you?”

Anyway, many thanks to Lyle and JoAnn the Producer. We had a lovely time and Brock even worked in a cameo.

So here you go. We hope you enjoy our coverage of the Master Chef Casting Call.

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