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Interview with Tracy Nailor from Fox’s ‘MasterChef’

Tracy-Nailor-updated-photoSPOILER ALERT! Move on if you don’t want to know where Tracy Nailor stands on Fox’s “MasterChef”!

Tracy Nailor, a 42-year-old Atlanta pediatrician, was doing quite well on Fox’s summer reality series “MasterChef,” impressing them with her desserts and versions of her late mother’s recipes.

Then last night, with nine contestants left, she fell apart. She wasn’t using excuses but in an interview today, she cited fatigue, stress and missing her four-year-old son’s upcoming birthday for her fragile mental state.

She botched a romantic meal, struggled during a wedding catering challenge, then foundered on a pasta dish. That did not leave a good impression with the judges (including Gordon Ramsay) and she was sent packing, finishing eighth on the Fox reality show seeking the best amateur cook in America.

“I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to perform, to elevate my game,,” she said.”Even though I experienced it, watching it was painful because I could see myself and say, ‘Oh man. If I had only done this…’  ”

But “I cannot complain about my overall performance,” she said.

Over the course of the competition, Nailor had taken pride in her dessert creations.  When the cooks had a cupcake challenge last week, she was an instant favorite to win.

But she ran out of time to finish the carrot cake cupcake and was understandably upset. “I was overconfident,” she said. “I cooked that carrot cake at home without a timer and cameras. I was devastated and embarrassed. I was talking a lot of junk. I had them believing I was going to win this.”

During the romance challenge featuring passion fruit, she ended up creating a rather ugly looking dish. “Proves I haven’t had a boyfriend in awhile, eh?” she joked.

Taste wise, she said her filet was good but the sauce “had too many ingredients. It was a mess.”

The pasta challenge was also a mixed bag for her, especially since she had never made her own pasta before. The sauce, she said, was at least decent (though one judge dubbed it a “Sloppy Joe.”) She wished in restrospect she had opted for a simpler pasta over ravioli.

She also liked Ramsay, who dialed back the furor he brings on “Hell’s Kitchen”  to mentor amateurs. “I didn’t expect him to be as mean as he was on ‘Hell’s Kitchen,’ ” she said.  “And he wasn’t.” She said he would often provide actual constructive criticism.

Off camera, she said she was “matriarchal,” not a surprise considering she was the second oldest among the finalists. “I kind of nurtured a lot of people,” she said. And she had no beef with anybody, not even Sherone, the chosen “villain” of the contestants given his relative level of arrogance.

Nailor’s future: she has scaled back her medical practice and may pursue opening a bake shop. She’d also like to write a cookbook based on her mom’s recipes and perhaps pursue television. (She got the bug!)

On the show, she said she came on to win: “I walked away from my career as a physician to be here. I left my son… I certainly wouldn’t have done that if I was casual about this.”

7 comments Add your comment

Jane Smith

September 2nd, 2010
11:22 pm

I’m sure editing and stress/fatigue played a large role in Tracy’s emotional “breakdowns” but honestly, as a resident physician who has recently gone through medical school, I don’t understand how Tracy made it through. Having Chef Ramsay criticize your lettuce is nowhere near as bad as being at the bottom of the medical hierarchy on the wards where on a daily basis you’re constantly being quizzed, disparaged about what you’re doing wrong, and often yelled at by grumpy patients. I would think she’d have a thick skin at this point in her life but she seemed as a fragile as a teenage girl on multiple occasions… cupcake challenge, wedding episode, etc. I don’t get it Tracy. Stop crying and man up!


September 3rd, 2010
7:46 am

Congratulations on making it to the level that you did young lady. Love the attitude. True acknowledgement of where you went wrong, noting areas of improvement, etc. Digging it. I’m certain with that continued attitude you will be a success off camera.


September 3rd, 2010
3:02 pm

@ Jane. Residents are pretty awkward on the path to attg status. I agree. Having said that, if she had thick skin in every facet of her life she would be unbearable to be around. Youre acting like you are star stuff and have not been brought to tears in residency. If it hasnt happened yet, it will. And yes, stress my dear will pobably be the determining factor that sends you over the edge. At that point, at your low point in residency when you screw an abx, when you order the wrong test/or fail to order any at all, misdiagnose, or when you meet a family from hell.. Remember to “stop crying and man up!!” She is following a PASSION. Give her a break, if you want your attg to give you a break and not make you look totally STUPID>


September 3rd, 2010
3:03 pm

Love the show & love, love love Tracy…congrats on how far you made it…my heart was breaking for you this week but i am so looking forward to you following your passion/dream and opening that bake shoppe one day! Your desserts look delicious!


September 3rd, 2010
7:08 pm

@Jane i believe your just mad and jealous that she was on the show, and possibly u weren’t……|STOP HATIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! U probably wouldnt have made the cut anyway>>>>>>>>>.

Jane Smith

September 3rd, 2010
10:49 pm

Wow, I didn’t realize my comment would get such a strong reaction. I guess I didn’t really articulate my thoughts well. What I was trying to say is that I, along with many other people, have cried and broken down during medical school and my point was, I’m sure Tracy did too while she was in training. After having been through the emotional stress of medical school and residency, I wouldn’t think something like Gordon saying her lettuce wasn’t cut great would bring her to tears. That was all! I think it is impressive and admirable that she put herself out there as a chef and she seemed to have real talent! (J. Lewis.. I am not jealous. I can’t cook and I’m amazed at how well everyone on the show, including Tracy, performed as so called amateurs. )


September 6th, 2010
11:30 am

We love you Dr. Nailor..I am sure your grandma is PROUD of you. Never give up your dreams! God places us in situations to teach us. Learn from this AWESOME experience and move on up! May God bless you and continue to keep. Praise God for this opportunity. would love to tast some of your dishes.. Hang in there my “sistah”….