Local cook to compete for a ‘MasterChef’ apron

Grant Gillon of Altoona is part of the new “MasterChef” season, which premieres tonight on Fox.

Writer: Karla Walsh

The home cook Grant Gillon describes himself on Instagram as “classically trained by the YouTube channel of @gordongram,” also known as “MasterChef” host Gordon Ramsay. But now that training is in person: The cooking show’s new season debuts at 7 tonight on Fox, and Gillon will show up in next week’s episode.

You can tune in at home, or meet Gillon and cheer him on at the watch party set for 7-8 p.m. next Wednesday, May 31, at Kinship Brewing Co. in Waukee.

Gillon is Kinship’s sales director by day and a husband, dad and culinary wizard by night. He was quietly honing his craft even before he shared his recipe for beer-braised short ribs with us last February, but until last week, he could only hint at his upcoming brush with fame. He applied for “MasterChef” last fall, landed an audition and will represent the Midwest in the regional round. The competition is judged by Ramsay himself, along with Joe Bastianich and Aarón Sánchez.

“The audition process is exactly what you see on TV,” Gillon said of the competition, in which cooks compete for a coveted apron. Each competitor “cooks their signature dish with only a certain number of aprons available. The twist in this season is that we are all representing our regions, so there are five aprons available for each region —  the Midwest, Northeast, South and West.”

To prepare, Gillon sharpened his basic techniques — knife skills, sauces, flavor development — and practiced certain tasks with a timer. As he put it, “I knew the clock was going to be my biggest nemesis.”
Although he’s sworn to secrecy about the show’s outcome, he did suggest the new season would have “a lot of twists.”

But no matter how it shakes out, he has big dreams for his next course. He’s considering hosting cooking classes or private dinners, building a following on social media, or even opening a restaurant in Altoona, where he grew up. “I’m taking everything one day at a time,” he said. “Whatever decision I make, I want to be sure I can take care of my family.”

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