Lauren Scott, a Cal Poly journalism alumna, first appeared on ABC’s cooking television show “The Taste” Feb. 12, and since then has wowed the judges with her culinary skills. From a flourless chocolate cake to this Tuesday’s lamb kebab, Scott has impressed the judges and her fans with her concoctions — after last night’s sandwich episode, one fan tweeted “my vote is on Lauren to win it all!” Now, this alumna dishes on how she got the chance for a taste of fame.
The first six months after graduation are terrible. You’ve been warned, so now you can’t act like it’s a surprise when you get there. Even if you happen to land the perfect job in your field immediately after college, those six months will be filled with transition — which, in my opinion is the most difficult phase of life. They say nothing is certain except death and taxes. I say nothing is certain except death, taxes and transition.
I experienced the biggest transition of my life after graduating from the journalism department at Cal Poly in December 2011. Less than a month after shaking President Armstrong’s hand, I was driving to Mississippi in my champagne-colored ’89 Cadillac DeVille filled with all my earthly possessions. If it wasn’t for “The Hunger Games” series on audiobook, I’m convinced I would’ve fallen asleep at the wheel and that would’ve been the end of my story.
I made it to Laurel, Miss., and began to embark on my new, exciting journey, degree in hand. I got a job as a restaurant manager making $10 per hour (Whoop! Makin’ big money!). Perhaps it was the fact that I was practically living in another country, or perhaps it was the fact that my job had absolutely nothing to do with my new, crisp, expensive degree; regardless, I was miserable. I felt like my life was heading nowhere fast.
While at Cal Poly, I was going to school full-time while working as a cook full-time; my busy schedule had given me a feeling of accomplishment, like I was moving forward. I didn’t realize that stepping off Cal Poly’s campus would feel like stepping off a conveyor belt while attempting to balance an encyclopedia on my head.
Right when I started feeling like I had re-established some balance in my life, I was “let go” from my job. In my pit of unemployment, despair and Top Ramen, I decided to do something spontaneous and impractical: I auditioned for a reality TV show.
At the time, the show hadn’t been given a name yet other than, “ABC Cooking Show.” I bought my plane ticket on credit (I already had $20,000 worth of student loan debt … what’s $500 more, eh?), and I got myself to the open casting call in Los Angeles.
For a few months I lived through the exciting anxiety of callbacks, screen tests and paperwork. I eventually got a call inviting me to Los Angeles to be one of 60 contestants to audition in front of Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Brian Malarkey.
The night before I left for filming, I cried.
I didn’t cry because I was scared or because I felt unqualified. I cried because I was handed an amazing opportunity, and I didn’t want to drop it. Right now I’m in the top 10 of the competition, and I’m living in the middle of the most amazing experience of my life.
Perhaps, my awkward, clumsy transition out of college was worth it.
Lauren Scott will appear on “The Taste” next Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ABC.