Dallas MasterChef Hopefuls Queue Up for A Shot at Reality Stardom

The first one showed up around 6 a.m. Sunday, and by noon the line stretched down Travis Street and into the Sur La Table parking lot: hundreds of homemakers, grillmasters and amateur chefs waiting in the cold hoping to land a spot on Gordon Ramsay's American incarnation of MasterChef.

Buoyed by years of compliments from their kids, or their chef friends, the would-be contestants waited for hours, each clutching application forms and the dish they hoped would be a ticket to stardom.

Sunday was the first day of auditions for the new Fox series, with separate casting teams fanned out to New York and Seattle.

Once inside, each contestant had about 10 minutes to plate their dish for the two judges.

While they waited in line, though, whatever they'd prepared was well hidden in Tupperware, coolers and foil-covered casseroles. At first glance it was tough to tell the William Hungs from the Justin Guarinis in this American Idol for the kitchen -- but a few of the would-be kitchen warriors were good enough to let us see the baked goods.

After the jump, check out what Dallas brought to the MasterChef table.

Preston Hollow's Sera Hall turned up with a big bowl of her Thai chicken salad, a recipe she said she's perfected over 20 years. She said she first made it back in the '80s, when the popularity of Asian recipes spiked on the West Coast. "Sometimes people are surprised to see coconut and peanuts, and bananas in here. To some people, that's three odd things to have in a salad."

Plano's Chris Authier has put in time in the industry -- that's what they call it there -- as a server and a bartender, most recently a stint at Magic Time Machine. Authier wasn't sure just what to bring to the auditions, until a frozen outdoor drinking session with his roommates prompted a flash of inspiration: he still had about 400 pounds of venison in his freezer from a hunting trip in East Texas. After that, his Southern fried venison with mashed potatoes seemed like the only way to go.

Mary Szefcyk, left, wanted to play up her Polish heritage with her choice, and figured her recipe for cabbage and noodles would help her stand out. "I'm all about simple things, just good ingredients," she said. For her audition batch, she tweaked an old family recipe by leaving out the cream, and adding bacon fat.

We asked Lewisville's Jesse Morris what he thinks about The Cheesecake Factory, and most of it can't be repeated on a family blog like this one. Morris has spent years developing an arsenal of about 20 cheesecake recipes, and said this Amaretto pecan pie version is the most formidable.

Goaded on by a sister who lived in Dallas, Arturo Barriga trekked up I-35 from Austin Sunday morning with his competition brisket tacos. Following a brisket recipe he first employed for his sister's graduation party, Barriga said that rather than grill the meat, he steamed it for about eight hours.

Dana Williams of Allen came out to the auditions with a Crock Pot full of tortilla soup, which she'd dress up inside to make it look more like the photo, left, included with her application. Among the coup's ingredients, she said, were celery, poblano peppers, homemade chicken stock, country beans and cilantro. "It doesn't really take that long to make -- only about an hour," she said.

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Patrick Michels
Contact: Patrick Michels