The Star Challenge was for the contestants to ‘meet the press’ by serving selected media representatives from Entertainment Weekly, Entertainment Tonight, and Serious Eats. Each judge was served, along with a 90-second electronic press kit explaining the prepared dish and something about themselves.
From my perspective, Martita was the worst performer, as she dropped 30 seconds of television time with utter silence. Paraphrasing the guest judge “…if I left thirty seconds of silent air time, I would be fired.” Neither Bob Tuschman nor Susie Fogelson fired Martita. Then again, Dan Rather left his job for 7 minutes and he wasn’t fired either. Sorry, I digress.
By singling out Emily Ellyn, judges felt disappointed she didn’t talk more about her “Retro Rad” perspective and further questioning by Alton Brown brought forth her beauty, but alas it remained mostly hidden. That’s the Emily we all should have seen. Unfortunately, she did not complete the assignment and was ‘Trumped’ (as I call it), i.e., sent home.
And it is for this reason we can learn much from Ms. Ellyn’s time on Next Food Network Star. In truth, it’s about living life: you have to be real. And to truly live and connect, one must be willing to be vulnerable.
In Matthew 19:23, Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” I am not stating Ms. Ellyn was a smug rich. No! I am not a Bible expert, but I think what Christ was telling the rich man was to drop all the illusion, be real, become vulnerable. Whether you want to be connected to Christ, Buddha or your true calling in life, you must be willing to be vulnerable. You have to be willing to dig deeper into the well and have strength to draw up true inner water.
From a Buddhist perspective, you have to throw away the illusion. Throw away all illusions by focusing on the problem. If we become aware of illusions they will disappear. If we focus our ‘whole’ mind, day and night, without any dualistic consciousness, then naturally, the inward and outer worlds, subject and object, commentator and audience, artist and painter, joy and peace become one.
Why do I consider myself such an authority? Well, I myself have led everyone in my life to think something I was not and no matter what I do I’ve got no way to change their mind. Even after many years as a Buddhist, one cannot rewrite history. As Christ would say, “It is written … “ Just like a bad Twitter or Facebook post, once it’s out there, it’s out there … forever.
I love Emily. But most importantly, at the end of the episode, I believe Ms. Ellyn learned deeply about why she favored that ‘Retro Rad’ look. And I know she will succeed in whatever and wherever she goes. For viewers, if Emily’s lessons are really learned, she will inspire thousands. To that I say, “Well done – good and faithful servant.”
Rene Lynch of the Los Angeles Times was right: Emily, take us with you!