November-December 2011 | MASTER OF HER DOMAIN

MasterChef season two champion Jennifer Behm
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MASTER OF HER DOMAIN

Fox’s latest MasterChef champ and Delaware resident Jennifer Behm invites you inside her kitchen as she cooks up a holiday feast

Written By: Nick Brandi | Photographer: Stephen Cherry

She was crowned Miss Delaware USA. She took the $250,000 top prize on Fox’s red-hot reality series MasterChef. Other than scaling Mt. Everest, what thrills could possibly be left for Wilmington’s winsome winner, Jennifer Behm? Whipping up some holiday dishes for the readers Coastal Style, that’s what!

 

Age: 35

Born: Reading, PA

Raised: Muhlenberg Township, PA

Marital Status: Single

Current Vocation: The feisty femme fatale of the TV kitchen

Previous Vocations: Realtor and part-time VP of merchandising for QVC’s Kathleen Kirkwood

Education: Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science from Eastern University

Where you can find her now: All over the place but home base is Wilmington

Fun Facts: Is Season 2 winner of MasterChef; was Miss Delaware USA 2000; has classical training in voice; played on boys soccer team in high school; knows Tai Chi (so she can cook you under the table and knock you under the table)

Defining Traits: Fierce competitor, dynamic, tenacious, passionate, committed, risk-taking, sensitive, thoughtful, great sense of humor

 

CSM: Congratulations on winning Season 2 of MasterChef, Jennifer. Have you come down from cloud nine yet?

JB: (laughs) Not really… there hasn’t been time. Life is such a whirlwind right now that it’s been difficult to find downtime to just process everything and reflect.

CSM: Has there been any downside to all the attention you’ve been getting lately?

JB: Since I now get recognized on a daily basis, I’d say not being able to walk my dog or run to the market in my jammies anymore is the biggest downside so far. (Laughs.)

CSM: Are you prepared for all the unsolicited marriage proposals you will no doubt be getting now?

JB: (With a wink) Let’s just say I am quite adept at moving on to the next Facebook post.

CSM: Other than you, of course, who did you think was the most gifted cook on Season 2?

JB: Adrien, without question. He’s not only enormously talented, he’s also become like a little brother to me.

CSM: Sounds like you made some real friends on the show.

JB: Oh my gosh, totally! The people and relationships I formed from the show are definitely the part of the experience I cherish most. I see and keep in regular touch with about a dozen of them.

CSM: Who are you the closest with or enjoy spending time with the most?

JB: If I had to choose, I’d say Adrien, Tracy, Christine and Ben, though there are many others whom I totally love.

CSM: Who, then, were your least favorite competitors?

JB: Suzy and Christian, of course.

CSM: Why?

JB: Well, they are both good cooks; however, words can spew a lot of venom. I knew it was a competition, but their approach, regarding their smart mouths on-camera, was a bit much for me. Ironically, I’d liked Suzy for who she seemed to be, but as the show aired, and you saw all the things she’d said… well, it was a turn-off for me.

CSM: So, then, would it be safe to assume that the rivalry and antagonism depicted between you and Christian wasn’t exaggerated?

JB: Yes, that’s correct. If anything, it came across less antagonistic than it actually was.

CSM: Wow!

JB: (Laughs) Yeah, you’re not kidding, “Wow!”

CSM: Since I know you guys have seen each other since the competition, have you buried the hatchet, so to speak?

JB: I can’t say we’ve buried the hatchet per se. What I can say is that I’ve moved on from it and left the hostility behind. (Laughs and winks) Besides, I’ve always been a gracious winner! Seriously, though, I wish both Christian and Suzy all the best.

CSM: At one point in the competition, you were at your cooking station, prepping food, and you’d looked into the camera and said something to the effect that if you excelled in the competition, people might have something to comment on besides your “boobs,” as you put it. Have you experienced a lot of objectification because of your appearance and gender?

JB: Honestly, I’d have to say not really, at least no more than any other female who takes pride in her appearance. What I actually meant by that was in reference to a classless comment by one of the contestants that basically named what they’d created for their vegetarian challenge after a part of my anatomy.

CSM: Care to elaborate?

JB: I’d love to, but since it occurred off-camera, I’m really not allowed [by contract] to speak about it publicly. I think that if you do the math, however, you’ll probably figure it out! (Smiles coyly.)

CSM: Which competitor do you feel stayed in the competition way too long?

JB: Definitely Suzy.

CSM: Who do you feel got bounced way too soon, then?

JB: Mark and Alvin. Alvin was like the mad-scientist genius of the show. He was not only brilliant in the kitchen; he was just brilliant period… like an encyclopedia. He is a total sweetheart, and he just needs to keep doing what he’s doing, because I’m confident he’s destined for great things on his own terms. You know, he was warned not to push it with the whole “molecular gastronomy” thing, but he stuck to his guns and stayed true to himself, which I really respect.

CSM: What do you feel was the most unfair criticism you’d received in the competition?

JB: It was Chef Gordon’s criticism of my dish in the pork challenge. The flavors were all there and really good, but because he was unfamiliar with the style and presentation, he basically panned it, and I don’t think that was entirely fair.

CSM: Was that, then, the low point in the competition for you as well?

JB: That and the ravioli challenge, because I’d never made raviolis before, so I stupidly used nutmeg as a seasoning. I don’t think I’ll be doing that again anytime soon.

CSM: Speaking of “stupid,” lots of fans would say that not accepting the champagne exemption from (judge) Joe Bastianich -- therefore deciding to cook in the truffle challenge instead – was the dumbest thing you did. What’s your opinion?

JB: I don’t think deciding to compete in that situation was dumb at all; in fact, I’d probably do it again because that’s just my nature. I take risks and go for what I want. What was dumb was blowing the truffle challenge because I didn’t use enough water in the water bath, which, because of evaporation, meant the eggs didn’t cook thoroughly. That was stupid!

CSM: Do you feel your pageant experience helped prepare you for the MasterChef competition?

JB: (Muses) I think it may have in terms of remaining poised in the face of competition and the cameras, but MasterChef was much more intense and stressful.

CSM: What kinds of things did you do in your pageants’ talent competitions?

JB: Actually, I sang and did Tai Chi.

CSM: So, you can devein a shrimp and sing me a show tune all while kicking my ass?

JB: (Laughs heartily) Possibly, yeah, though not necessarily at the same time.

CSM: Well, clearly you’ve had an amazing past and are in the middle of an even more amazing present. So, what’s in store for Jennifer Behm in the future?

JB: Wow!... where to start? Well, I’ve launched a catering business called Pink Martini, which provides private cheffing and catering for events up to 100 for dinner and 150 for hors d’oeuvres. In  fact, I’ll be catering and cooking at a private party for Governor and Mrs. Markell in October. In November, I’ll be cooking in the British Virgin Islands as the featured chef at Sir Richard Branson’s annual food & wine festival. I’m also working on a book that will consist of recipes, stories and other things close to my heart.

CSM: That’s really incredible. A hearty congratulations to you! Do you think Pink Martini will ever cater events on the Eastern Shore of Delaware and Maryland?

JB: You may count on it! I’m a beach girl at heart and consider myself as having grown up on the Eastern Shore, so “yes” is definitely the answer to that question.

CSM: What do you think was the key ingredient to your success on MasterChef?

JB: I think it can be summed up by my personal motto: “Cook fearlessly!”

CSM: What advice would you give to next season’s MasterChef contestants?

JB: I would say they should, of course, cook fearlessly and (begins to laugh) be really, really good with at least two desserts!

 


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