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A few closed doors don't deter this chef

She feels cooking is in her blood and is confident that more opportunities will open up.

September 09, 2011|By Cassandra M. Bellantoni

If former Glendale resident Michelle Karam has learned anything on the road to achieving her dream job as a celebrity chef, it’s that when one door closes; another one opens soon after.

“It’s so exciting when you get that phone call from a network producer. You think, ‘wow, someone is finally noticing me.’ You go there and feel like you’re giving them everything they want, but then it doesn’t go the way you thought. It’s all in their hands and it’s really hard,” Karam said.

Karam was rebooting over the summer. She was rejected after four months of auditioning for the reality TV show, “Next Food Network Star,” then was the first chef eliminated on an episode she taped for Bravo’s “Rocco’s Dinner Party,” with a 30-minute dish she felt was a winner, crawfish etouffee.

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In 2009, Karam, the married mother of three and owner of a catering company called Dishes By Michelle, feels cooking is in her blood and is confident, made several cuts out of thousands of wannabe chefs for “Next Food Network Star” in hopes of winning her own cooking show, like former winner Guy Fieri.

“I practically dropped to my knees when I entered the Food Network building. I had found my mecca and as I looked around at that beautiful building, I knew this is where I’m supposed to be. But when I tell you I bombed there — I really bombed,” Karam said.

Karam described the audition process as “terrifying.” She said she was peppered with what seemed like 7,000 personal and professional questions in a small room, on camera. Producers then took her up to a fully lit demo kitchen with multiple broadcast cameras, put a microphone on her and gave her a few ingredients including tilapia, wood ear mushrooms and canned fava beans. A producer continued to grill her with questions as several network executives sat silently in the dark, watching her scramble to find everything she needed to cook a winning dish in an unfamiliar kitchen.

“I cooked a good dish but I knew I hadn’t done well with the questions while I was doing it. By the time I was in the cab after the audition, I called my family, bawling, telling them I failed. The door was definitely closed,” Karam said.

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