Friday, July 29, 2011

A Tale of Love and Chefs

"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” 
(John 13:34-35, NLT)

Hi. My name is Danielle and I love competitive cooking shows on Food Network. 

No, really. My favorite is the show "Chopped" hosted by Ted Allen. If you've never seen it, the basic premise is that 4 chefs who are fantastic at what they do compete to win $10,000 by cooking 3 dishes (appetizer, entree, dessert) using mystery ingredients and the pantry & fridge that are in the kitchen. The producers do a fantastic job of making sure you get a good picture of the personalities of the chefs, which is great so that you can make a good decision of who to cheer for. 

Steve and I's all-time favorite "Chopped" champion was Madison Cowan, who actually ended up winning $50,000 on a massive "Chopped Champions" tournament. He's a Jamaican/British/American dude with a fantastic attitude towards food - he feels like it needs to speak to and come from your soul - and an amazing story of overcoming odds to do amazing things for himself and his young daughter. When he won the first time before progressing on to "Chopped Champions", he beat a Christian fellow named Lance who is the head chef for "Camp in the Woods" - a Christian camp in New York State. 

Madison Cowan in his first appearance on "Chopped". Start at about 6:00 to see his dessert battle with Chef Lance.

Chef Lance has also turned out to be another one of Steve & I's favorite chefs to have appeared on "Chopped" since we've been watching it because of his super-positive attitude and his boldness in professing his faith on a nationally televised cable program. This week we pulled up the latest & greatest episode of "Chopped" on our DVR to find ourselves greeted with a special edition of the show: "Chopped: Redemption". 

Food Network brought back some of their almost-winners to compete for a second chance at becoming a "Chopped" champion for one episode. As soon as I saw the lead-in bumper (is that the right phrase?), I said to Steve: "Oh! It's that Christian camp guy!"... and we knew immediately who we were cheering for to win (especially after one of the other dudes had a huge attitude problem... he got cut immediately). 

As the show progressed, the clips that highlighted Chef Lance always showed him talking about his faith. How he tries to show grace in everything he does because he's been given such beautiful, undeserved grace by God. How he used to be a huge jerk before he found his faith. How he draws on God for strength & inspiration in the kitchen. And in the last round - it came down to Chef Lance and Chef Yoanne; a sweet, French chef who was hoping to win the money to be able to go to France and spend some time with her grandmother who had basically raised her, taught her to cook, and was an important part of her life.

The two chefs whipped up their desserts and presented them to the judges for the final decision on the grand prize. Here's the end result:

I'll admit, I shed a couple of tears at this moving ending to a relatively ordinary cooking game show. It was so awesome to see genuine care and love in action... and there are two things that you don't see in this clip that make this even more moving:

1. Earlier in the show, Chef Lance comments to her about how he was moved to hear the story of how her grandmother had taken care of her.
2. During the second round, Chef Yoanne had slipped, fell, and dropped a pan of scalding hot potatoes on both her legs and one hand. This meant that she pushed through the dessert round in a lot of pain, but with a deep determination to push through and try to win so she could see her grandmother.

To be honest - even though Chef Lance was the guy we were cheering for, we were certain that he didn't win. But in the end - he not only won, but was able to publicly display unsolicited love and generosity towards this woman he had just met that day to help her get to see her grandmother. To not only do it, but to be bold enough to do it in a way that made it known that he was working so hard to live out his life in a way that honors the way that God calls us to live... it was an amazing, rare thing to see. 

Thank you, Chef Lance, for showing us that not all reality TV has to be terrible... sometimes it can show us the amazing hearts that God has designed us to have.


Anonymous said...

We watched that show last night (must have been a re-run) for the first time. It was so moving. Chef Lance did his best, and honored God. May God bless him, his family and his ministry. What a wonderful testimony. Through Chef Lance, the judges, Chef Yoanne, and all of us watching, were able to see God in action.

mickey said...

I agree, that guy Lance, he was awesome. Really, he demonstrated how people are supposed to act. Grace, humility, he was fantastic. And he is an awesome chef too.

As for just the word for him. He is so sexy, with his accent, he should have his own Food Network show, I would never miss it! And he too, is just too cool.