A Cokeville woman will appear on the 21st season of “MasterChef,” which premieres Wednesday night on Fox.
Megan Reid hopes to cook up a winning recipe and stay on celebrity chef judge Gordon Ramsay’s good side as she competes to represent the West Region in what show producers are dubbing “United Tastes of America.”
Coming To Cokeville
Reid is one of those super busy supermoms who is instantly likeable. Infectious energy oozes from the vibrant 41-year-old like succulent juices from a T-bone steak.
It’s easy to see why “MasterChef” show screeners picked her out of some 30,000 applicants they get for each season. The audition probably took all of 15 seconds.
Reid and family moved to Cokeville from Seattle two years ago. She, her husband and three kids were looking for something a little slower paced. Cokeville, population 509, fit the bill.
“It’s super small. The whole town is as big as our entire neighborhood was in Seattle. It took some adjustment,” Reid said. “We were just burned out on the rat race. This motel became available, and now we do love it here.”
The motel is the Hideout Motel in Cokeville, a quaint 14-room motor court the family has renovated. The couple had little to no lodging experience, but both Megan and her husband Paul have an employment background in the hospitality industry.
Reid also homeschools her kids and considers herself a bit of an amateur chef. She’s always enjoyed cooking. Moving to Cokeville made it a survival skill.
“We were used to takeout and delivery and all the options available at your fingertips in Seattle,” Reid said. “Here, I have to do a lot more cooking. Between that and maybe a little bit of a need for attention, I found TikTok.”
And TikTok is how Fox producers found Reid.
Home At The Range
Reid’s following on the popular short-form video hosting platform has ballooned to 133,700 followers. Her unpretentious approach often features Reid just winging it in the kitchen.
She taste-tests hearts of palm for the first time, tries out a friend’s recipe for Korean beef short ribs and shares her take on an elevated butter beer. With Reid, viewers get the feeling she might take you anywhere, on a whim, just to see what happens.
The social media productions have been a mother-daughter bonding experience. Who better to direct, edit and produce a TokTok video than an 11-year-old?
That’s where Macy comes in.
Reid’s eldest gets the medium as only a preteen can. Mom handles content creation.
Under Macy’s expert hand, Reid’s videos employ ample use of Charlie Chaplin fast-motion to get through the tedious parts of all that boring mixing and whisking to the moment of truth.
Reid sticks a finger in a bowl and then into her mouth. Pause music ...
“Nope,” she says, and the video cranks back to life.
Megan Makes The Grade
One day last summer Reid got an email from someone claiming to be a talent scout for “MasterChef.”
“Yeah, right,” Reid thought of the spammy-looking contact. “Prove it. Call me.”
They did, almost immediately.
Reid was urged to apply. That meant submitting dishes and videos of her everyday life.
It also meant watching the show. Though Reid admits to loving all sorts of the competitive cooking and baking shows today, she had not seen “MasterChef” at that time.
“Honestly, when they called me I had never seen it. I binged watched it after that before I applied,” she said.
From these tens of thousands of remote applicants, show producers whittle it down to a select 100 who are invited to fly to California (on the applicants’ dime) to audition in person. More than half of those people will be sent home with a rejection slip.
The rigorous audition process even includes a psychological evaluation — conducted, presumably, to predict how contestants might react when told by Ramsay their dishes taste like dog food.
“I remember one question was, ‘Have you ever been fired from a job?’” Reid recalled. “They covered everything. I think they have to make sure you are sane and can handle Gordon during the long days of filming.”
But Reid made the cut and began taping in January. Contestants are put up in a hotel in Los Angeles for a month while the show tapes. After that, everyone goes home after signing a nondisclosure agreement and waits for the show to air.
First question we asked Reid: “Did you win?”
“You know, I can't tell you that. We are sworn to secrecy. I could get in big trouble,” Reid said.
Fine. What was it like, then?
“It was intense,” Reid said. “I really thought it was going to be more of a reality show. I thought they would coach us more on how to act or what to say, explain things.
“But they don’t. That was the biggest surprise. The challenges are very real. They just say, ‘Here it is,’ and off you go. You feel the pressure.”
And the judges? Guest judge for the West Region was the iconic Susan Feniger. “MasterChef’s” regular panel includes the Simon Cowell of the culinary world Gordon Ramsay, along with Joe Bastianich and Aarón Sánchez.
“Gordon is taller than I thought he’d be. And he is actually a pretty nice person, genuinely kind,” Reid said. “Susan was fantastic and had good things to say. Joe is kind of harsh.”
The Reids are probably off to their next adventure soon. The motel makeover is just about finished and the family has been eyeing a property in Hawaii that would be more of an inn with a restaurant component onsite.
“We have a food truck, but I've been really wanting a commercial kitchen,” she said. “I think we are ready to move on but it will be hard to leave here.”
For the immediate future, Reid and the family will sit back every Wednesday night and become fans again of
“MasterChef.” Only this time, they’ll be in complete agreement over who they are rooting for to win.