Minnesota ladies are officially taking over the food TV scene, and Barbette chef Sarah Master is the latest to enter the arena.
It all started last fall, when Northern Minnesota native Amy Thielen opened her doors to Food Network crews for the filming of her series Heartland Table, where she whips up stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. Then Sara Johannes of MSP’s Shoyu showed her stuff on Top Chef: New Orleans. And in January, Master made her own TV debut on ABC’s The Taste, quickly becoming one of the show’s most popular and down-to-earth contestants.
An unlikely reality star, Masters was encouraged by friends and colleagues to audition for the show. “I let peer pressure win over,” she laughs, noting that the show brought fresh inspiration to her food.
Master was plucked from thousands of contestants to be placed on acclaimed New York chef Marcus Samuelsson’s team when she made a seared lamb loin with saffron cous cous that made him swoon in a blind tasting (if the name sounds familiar, it may be due to his stint as executive chef of the now-closed Minneapolis outpost of Aquavit). She’s been holding her own among competitors from all over the country since, cooking up tasty-looking dishes including a fish-and-chips plate that earned top marks from the judges.
“Minneapolis is a strong foodie city and that my background here and my time in New Orleans gave me a different skill set than the other chefs,” says Master, citing her experience with Southern flavors and offal, all tinged with an elegant panache from her time in fine-dining restaurants.
“The response here in Minneapolis and the Iron Range, where I’m from, has been overwhelmingly positive. I had no idea so many people were pulling for me,” she adds.
Since Minnesotans do love to support their own, Bryant-Lake Bowl has been running a special series to celebrate Master’s accomplishments. The theater holds a free screening of the latest episode of The Taste each week for viewers to cheer on the chef before sampling her dish from that week’s show. Check the website for future show dates and times.