July 27, 2010 2:31 AM
Jacksonville’s noted barbecue master is making his prime-time debut tonight on a new reality show.
The U.S. version of “MasterChef,” hosted by the razor-tongued chef and star of “Hell’s Kitchen,” Gordon Ramsay, premieres at 8 p.m. today on the Fox network.
Randy Twyford of Jacksonville was chosen as one of 50 contestants for the show, which seeks out the best amateur chef in the nation through a series of challenges and eliminations.
Twyford, co-owner of Twyford BBQ & Catering, said he never expected to make it as far as he did, considering there were about 14,000 people who applied.
“It was one of those deals. A friend of mine in Boston messes around with casting,” Twyford said. “He called me up and said I should apply. I said, no I don’t have a chance, he said you don’t know if you don’t try. So that was my attitude going into it.”
He went to Naperville where his ribs stood out among hundreds of other dishes.
“It was a madhouse,” Twyford said. “People waiting like three hours to get in.”
After a series of exhaustive interviews, forms and psychological and background tests, Twyford was accepted.
“So what started out on a whim, as I got into it more and more I was like, ‘oh my goodness, this is actually going to happen’,” Twyford said.
Filming for the show took place in March and April in Los Angeles.
“It was a great time. It was an experience that, you think about being from Jacksonville and central Illinois, when you get out there and see what it’s like. … If anyone gets a chance to experience it, they should go for it,” Twyford said.
For the premiere, Twyford cooked a dish called funeral potatoes, a sort of loaded potato casserole. He said he was initially concerned about preparing a simple dish rather than something more gourmet, but he was relieved as he saw others preparing similar dishes.
“There was some gourmet foods, but then I did comfort food, and surprisingly there were several of those too,” Twyford said.