When I saw Erika Monroe-Williams take center stage a couple of weeks ago on ABC's new cooking show "The Taste"...I got excited. And why not? Monroe-Williams on TV meant that every week, we were going to be able to see a little bit of what the one-time news anchor cooks for "The Carson Crusher".
But, unfortunately, her stint on the show was shorter lived than I had hoped. Tuesday night, after lasting through four of the eight episodes...Monroe-Williams was dismissed from the cooking competition.
HOVG: Your time on "The Taste" was relatively short lived, but I've got to think you took plenty from the opportunity. What can you share from your journey on "The Taste"?
MONROE-WILLIAMS: It was so incredibly amazing and, honestly, shocking that I was picked from more than 10,000 chefs and home cooks who tried out. I really wanted to be on Nigella Lawson's team. I have admired her for a long time and have all of her books. I loved all the mentors and made a lot of lifelong friends along the way. Anthony Bourdain was hilarious, smart and fun to be around...and TALL! I am 5'10" and even with 4-inch heels, he towered over me. I learned so much about cooking from each and every chef/cook and mentor on the show...it made me a better home cook and gave me great ideas for my website and fans.
HOVG: What did your husband, former Major Leaguer (and current coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks) Matt Williams think about his wife competing on "The Taste"? And what is his favorite meal that you cook?
MONROE-WILLIAMS: Matt is so supportive! He LOVES Anthony Bourdain so he thought this was really cool. Matt doesn't like the limelight, he likes to keep his nose to the grindstone and focus on the work (baseball) and not TV, but he supports me in what I do and that's one of the reasons I love him so much! I think his favorite thing I cook for him is my Lime and Coriander Crusted Tuna with a Coconut Lemongrass Cream Sauce and Spicy Watermelon and Mango Salad that I made on "The Taste. Although, he also loves my meatloaf. He is not a fancy guy and that's another reason why I love him so much.
HOVG: You've spent a great deal of time in front of the camera over the years. How did this latest foray compare to your previous experiences?
MONROE-WILLIAMS: I had a terrible experience with a horrible embarrassment of a show (that I will leave nameless), and that made me gun shy for this project. I was so excited that this was all about cooking and included Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson and a primetime ABC time slot with a really reputable production company so I just went for it! I started out in television doing national commercials before I got into news, then moved to Texas and Phoenix to anchor the news, and I also hosted "DBacks on Deck" with Matt, the Diamondbacks' pre-game show in addition to hosting morning show cooking segments...so I have spent a lot of time in front of the camera and I am very comfortable with it. The television part of it didn't make me nervous but cooking for these mentors with their incredible knowledge of food made me VERY nervous!
HOVG: I've gotta know. Who is easier to be around...your fellow cast member from that show that will remain nameless, the unpredictable Anna Benson, or culinary bad boy Anthony Bourdain?
MONROE-WILLIAMS: Anthony Bourdain was really fun to be around. He is so intelligent, well traveled and just a generally great guy. The kind of guy you want to sit and have a beer with.
HOVG: What's next for you? Where can we expect to see you pop up next?
MONROE-WILLIAMS: I have some really exciting things happening! I can't talk about them at this time, but I will keep you updated. In the meantime, I have a cookbook that I am working on, my website where I cook, photograph and write everything you see (a huge undertaking!) and there's my new HD video series which has been so fun to do and we are getting an amazing response. Quick videos that show you how to make amazing recipes without a huge time commitment in watching the video. Stay tuned!