Growing up in Douglaston, Queens, Jonathan Scinto watched many of Julia Child’s cooking shows. So began his love of the culinary arts.
“Most kids were probably watching ‘Sesame Street,’” said the 40-year-old, who now makes his home in North Bellmore. “I was mixing things up on the floor…You could really say that I’ve been cooking for 35 years.”
Now Scinto will get his chance to cook on TV when he stars in Fox’s popular “MasterChef” cooking competition series, co-created by award-winning chef Gordon Ramsay.
The sixth season of “MasterChef,” which was to premiere on May 20, after press time, will feature 40 contestants from all walks of life and 16 states, including an engineer, chiropractor, elementary music teacher, fashion stylist and drummer. The grand prize is $250,000 and a cookbook deal.
In the two-hour premiere, Scinto and his fellow contestants had their signature dishes judged by Ramsay (Gordon Ramsay Steak, Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, Gordon Ramsay BurGR), Graham Elliot (Graham Elliot Bistro) and a new panelist, Christina Tosi (Milk Bar). Later in the season, contestants will face a series of high-pressure challenges, including visiting an amusement park to create theme meals; cooking for Las Vegas jugglers, magicians and dancers; and preparing meals for cowboys at a cattle ranch, according to Fox.
Scinto said he had thought about auditioning for “MasterChef” since the first season premiere. He did not, however, give it serious thought until he lost his job as an admissions counselor at the Culinary Academy of Long Island. With the support of his wife, Annmarie, he decided to take a “pretty big jump” and try out for the show in New York City late last year, he said.
“My wife said, ‘You can’t do this to yourself anymore,’” Scinto said. “She told me that I had to pursue my dreams. This was a leap of faith to show my talent to the world.”
Scinto said he did not go into the show with grand expectations, but was excited to absorb lessons and advice from his fellow contestants. He said he would always fondly recall the time that he spent with competitors reading cookbooks and bouncing ideas off one another, adding that he made new friends through his time on the show.