‘MasterChef’ contestant has local ties

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, June 30, 2012

Josh Marks is a contract specialist at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, but the 7-foot-tall 25-year-old is a little different from his fellow ERDC employees. Each Monday and Tuesday night, he tunes in to FOX to watch himself on the competitive cooking reality TV show “MasterChef.”

“It’s been a learning experience,” said Marks, a Chicago native. “I’m a pretty positive person so it’s been amazing.”

Marks said he’s cooked throughout his life, but didn’t get serious until around 2007.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“Once I mastered my mom’s chili I started taking it seriously,” Marks said. “I didn’t just master her chili though, I whipped it.”

While in Chicago for his little sister’s birthday party, Marks was approached by a friend about a casting call for the third season of “MasterChef.”

“I figured I may as well go,” Marks said. “And heck yeah, it’s been a blast.”

Marks was one of 100 people who made it to the first round of competition, and he was featured on the first episode, which aired at the beginning of June. He made his shrimp etoufee, and when he got a “yes” from all three judges, he was given an apron and the go-ahead to continue in the competition.

In the eighth episode of the third season, which aired Tuesday night, Marks and his competitors had one hour to make a British Trifle impressive enough to keep them from being sent home. Marks succeeded and earned himself a spot in the top 12 left on the show.

“Cooking at home is definitely different,” Marks said. “I’ve cooked all my life but never at this level, you learn to perform like a chef.”

The judges for MasterChef are Gordon Ramsay, who also stars in FOX’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich. The final winner of the competition will receive $250,000 and the opportunity to produce his or her own cookbook.

Marks said he’s having fun watching the show play back on TV, but it can be frustrating at times.