While watching the Season 9 finale of FOX-TV’s “MasterChef” last year, Sarah Faherty, a residential real-estate agent with La Jolla’s Canter Brokerage, noticed the call for Season 10 open auditions.
“I turned to my husband and said, ‘I’m going to go for it this year,’ ” Faherty told the Light over a glass of red wine at The LOT’s restaurant. “I’ve wanted to do this for years and the time was never right. I have a daughter and twin boys, and over the past couple of years, with them being so young, it wasn’t feasible.”
The auditions went well, since Faherty is at The LOT to host a screening party for “MasterChef’s” Season 10 premiere. She’s one of 36 contestants — plucked from more than 20,000 hopefuls — about to face grueling white-apron challenges, elimination challenges and pressure tests. At the finish line is $250,000 cash, a trophy and training at restaurants owned by the show’s three judges (including rock-star chef Gordon Ramsay).
“Cooking has always been a passion of mine,” said the 31-year-old Austin, Texas native. “I enjoy it. Some people think it’s work, but I think it’s therapeutic.” Instead of following recipes, Faherty said she prefers “messing with flavor groupings and profiles.”
In “MasterChef’s” first episode, Faherty prepared Herb-Crusted French Lamb Lollipops with Fondant Potatoes and a Spring Pea Puree, and stood and watched Ramsey sample it.
“That was pressure,” she said.
Coincidentally, Faherty is the second Canter Brokerage agent from La Jolla to appear as a reality-show contestant. The first was Kara Kay, who made it all the way to the Final Four on Season 37 of “Survivor” last year.
“She’s not with us anymore,” Faherty said of her former co-worker. “She moved to another team.” Faherty said Canter didn’t help her pull any Hollywood strings, but was “very supportive” of her dream. “I did this on my own,” she said.
When asked if she hopes the exposure might open doors to a culinary career shift, Faherty replied: “I have no idea what opportunities will be presented as a result of this, if any, but I’m just going with the flow.”
Although her office is in the heart of La Jolla’s dining district, Faherty lives in greater San Diego (she wouldn’t say where) and said she hasn’t frequented many Village restaurants — although she and her sommelier husband, Michael, did try Herringbone on Mother’s Day “and it was terrific.”
It’s no secret that reality shows almost universally wrap every episode of a season before the first even airs — all except the live finale. So Faherty already knows whether she will make “MasterChef’s” vaunted Final Three. She just can’t say due to standard reality-show, non-disclosure agreements.
Fortunately, Faherty has a past even more intriguing than her current televised pursuit of cheffing notoriety. Prior to real estate, she was a U.S. Army interrogator.
“You interrogate detainees,” Faherty explained, “but I can’t talk about it.”
When asked which she’s more forbidden to discuss — her Army career or “MasterChef” contestant ranking — Faherty laughed and replied: “both!”
— “MasterChef” airs 8 p.m. Wednesdays on FOX-TV. After June 20, it airs 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursdays.