After an impressive, but unfairly short, run on Fox’s “MasterChef” last season, Jesse Romero turned his sights back to his job as a petroleum landman. But, ever since his televised appearance as a force to be reckoned with in the food world, Romero hasn’t turned down an opportunity to show Baton Rouge just what he’s all about in the kitchen.
This weekend, Romero and a few friends will return to the grill to compete in the Ainsley’s Angels BCA Sanctioned BBQ Cookoff. The event starts at 7 a.m. Saturday at the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales.
We caught up with Romero to talk about life after “MasterChef” as well as what he will be preparing for the event.
How did you get involved with this event?
A childhood friend of mine, Danielle Mistric, has an organization, Ainsley’s Angels, that supports something close to her. This is the biggest fundraiser that she has had. All the proceeds go to help the foundation. I always enjoy doing another that helps a good cause. Being out there, cooking, it was an easy decision. She originally asked me to be a judge, but then called back and wondered if I would be interested in being in the cookoff. So I put together a little team.
In something like this, does your competitive edge come in?
Oh, yeah, man. The team is called Teal Team Six. We’re usually at the top, if not winning it. When she asked me to be in the cookoff, we started getting our ideas together immediately. This is a pretty big competition, too. Anytime we can take down some stout competition, that’s a good time.
What are you preparing for cookoff?
There is a set menu. You have to follow certain rules. There’s no gas, no electric smokers. But every team has to prepare half of a chicken, plate of ribs, and brisket. You serve all three. You have to execute. It’s not like someone can bring in a sirloin, and someone else has got a filet.
This seems like this is right up your alley. Are you going to let the meat stand on its own or will you do something to up the flavor?
Yeah, man, I always have liked to use fresh meats and have enjoyed that technique. I’m not going to give away any secrets, but we’re going to add a little something more because of the competition. We have a few tricks up our sleeve.
How has life been since your “MasterChef” appearance?
It’s been going well. One thing I’ve been enjoying doing is cooking gameday food at Bogie’s for all the LSU home games. I’ve done gumbo, barbecue, jambalaya, and red beans and rice. I’ve done a couple pop-up dinners at Tin Roof’s tap room, too. I’ve been to Nashville, and I’m about to have a new website and a way for people to interact with me. I’ve got a pop-up dinner scheduled in Nashville at Watermark Restaurant. The “MasterChef” thing, it happened, but I’m more about looking forward to any other food opportunities in the future.