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Nothing ventured, and second chances…

The idea of going to MasterChef really was an idea that began simmering over a year ago, after a friend of mine encouraged me to try out for a cooking show on another network. Well, I took heed, threw caution to the wind and hightailed it toward the application process. My first thought was how to actually stand out? As if the big custom-made cowboy hat did not do it for me. After careful consideration, I made my specialty. I created my Chicken Fried Pork Chop with Jalapeño Cream Gravy (which later got me my spot on the show), with Sour Cream - Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas, wrapped them up in a hot bag and forced myself to a North Dallas restaurant for a tryout. Yes, you read right, I forced myself to do this – I, like many wanted to try and do something new in my life but had to dig deep for the gumption to put myself out there. I tried out and got bumped up to another level, then another level, and with each step forward I tried not to get excited – kept an even strain but I kept progressing toward my goal, excitedly the dream was becoming real. Finally, I was slated for Hollywood and it was then I got bumped - I can’t say I was overly disappointed just pissed that I took so much time to put my hopes and dreams in the pride of my cooking only to be told no. It was a gut check to be honest, and my cowboy pride was only bruised for a bit – after all, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. I packed up my pride and left to go back to Texas and do what comes naturally - ranching and real estate, the jury is still out on what I do best.

In December of 2015, my wife, Melanie and I were headed out to go Christmas tree shopping in Fort Worth, when all of a sudden, my fingers started to get tingly like what they call, in Texas Football a “Stinger” or when you bump your “funny bone”. As I progressed on, I channeled my inner Clark Griswold grabbing the perfect Christmas tree and then decided to go celebrate with Melanie at dinner – sensations kept becoming odder over dinner. While eating, the left side of my face became increasingly tingly. I self-diagnosed and wrote the event off as a pinched nerve in my neck from an injury back in my football days. I was unaware that a killer was lurking about, at the very least a life changer. "Dr. Newton" decided it was time to finished dinner and go home. I drug the tree inside, Melanie started dressing the tree while I dosed off. "Dr Newton" made a slight misdiagnosis when I got out of bed Monday morning - my symptoms hadn’t subsided and now I couldn’t conjugate any verbiage or walk a straight line, STROKE! To further complicate matters I decided a week’s worth of rest would get me back in the saddle – I literally dodged a bullet to the brain.

Jan 2, 2016 I wake up and I look at my lovely bride and try to say let’s get to the hospital!! When we arrived in the emergency room and my BP was 214/117, I crashed, and here starts a 6-day hospital stay only to find out how messed up my health was. I was dangerously close to the abyss – more on that later. While I was in the hospital, Kelly, a casting director from the previous show remembered me and reached out to tryout for this show called MasterChef. My initial thought was – to be continued. But being on the show gave me a goal to shoot for – something to drive my passion towards. In short it gave me another reason to beat this stroke and its after effects…

Like the poker game Texas Holdem, “I was all in”…

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