As the MasterChef Legends nears the finale, Nyesha Arrington steps into the kitchen and offers the home cooks the chance to follow in her culinary achievements. While Chef Arrington might be quick with the knife, she has honed her craft over the years. From culinary competitions to successful restaurants, her dishes always rise to the top.
Recently, FoodSided spoke with Chef Arrington about her MasterChef Legends experience, the idea of mastering the cooking craft and why her signature dish stands out in a sea of sameness. Even though Chef Arrington has appeared on various cooking competitions, there is a difference to this food television experience.
Arrington said, “MasterChef is special because it brings together a wider variety of competitors and world renowned chefs who have a vast data set. The competitors get a chance to really see what it takes to be a master of their craft.”
That concept is clear as the competition nears an end. Through each episode, the home cooks glean more information from each of the MasterChef Legends. Whether it was a mystery box challenge, learning to break down a monkfish or the art of communication, each skill set makes those home cooks more confident in their skills.
That stronger presence in the kitchen can set the home cooks on the path to success. Arrington said, “I am certain that the competition encourages home cooks to explore and flex their culinary creativity. Listen, cooking is fun, it looks and seems intense, but it’s all about love and the soul. When you cook with love and soul, beautiful moments occur.”
While every cook has their own approach to food and cooking, that concept of food being a universal language seems to unite all chefs in the kitchen. It is more than just another helping of food on the plate. It is a way to nurture each other time and again.
Arrington agrees with that statement. She commented, “food is a conduit of emotion, feelings, and connections. When we cook, it is a sensory exchange. We as chefs and cooks use our senses to create connections that pull influence from the past, present, and create a path forward for the future.”
What does Nyesha Arrington advise chefs to do in the kitchen?
As part of the MasterChef Legends semi-final round, Chef Arrington puts the remaining home cooks through the paces of “being a professional chef.” While a culinary competition might not mimic working on the line, there are many skill sets that make it a vital learning experience.
Arrington believes, “when you are in the kitchen it comes down to organization and precision of execution. Not just organization of the tools, but also of the mind. When it is time to turn on the jets, the best thing to do is to stay focused, stay organized, and work efficiently. Don’t get in your head or over contemplate your plan of execution, that’s how and when you fumble. Just flow.”
That concept of flow can be seen throughout the competition. Whether it is flow, zone or just a confident cooking, the chefs who have found that rhythm have soared to the top. The ones that have fumbled lost their way.
Although there are competition pressures, the reality is that nerves can be a factor. Dealing with those nerves is key to executing a confident dish in the moment.
Arrington shared, “I have 100% let my ‘nerves’ overwhelm me in the kitchen, more times than I would like to have if I am to be honest. The best advice that I have to offer is learning how to breathe. Breathwork exercises have helped me control my parasympathetic state. So take a few deep calming breaths and allow yourself to reset a bit and gain clarity. Easier said than done, but it does make a difference.
Nyesha Arrington shares her signature dish
When MasterChef Legends began, each home cook shared a signature dish that would earn them a coveted apron. Over the episodes, other favorite dishes, family connections and culinary influences have impacted the food on the plate.
For Arrington, her signature dish is different. When asked, she shared the following.
“My signature dish is actually a sauce, a sauce that originated from my family that I have utilized and transformed. I call it Aisoon, it’s an all purpose sauce that literally pairs well with everything from poultry to beef to vegetables. Even great for marinades, soup base, and dressings.”
In some ways, that signature sauce exemplifies the versatility of Arrington’s cooking. A sauce that pairs with almost any food can be a key to culinary success. With a base of knowledge, a cook can grow, play and execute a wide array of food. With a little seasoning of confidence, that one sauce could grow into a plethora of food enjoyment.