August 30, 2004 3:08 AM | By Adam Roberts | 14 Comments

Gourmet Survivor 2004: Meet The Players

When one creates a scavenger hunt featuring 50 random unrelated food objects, activities and/or postures, one does not expect that many people will actually engage in said scavenger hunt. One expects that a small few--hopefully nine--will engage and that one may then say: "Foresooth! Everyone who participated is a winner!"

Instead, 14 kindly souls participated in our Round One Mass Elimination Scavenger Hunt. My friend Katy (who you may remember as our blogsitter from months past) wrote me an e-mail saying: "Do you understand how much power you have? I can't believe you got all those people to do whatever you wanted. Make them all send me a dollar next, okay?"

Now Katy would have you believe this is about power, but it's not. It's about fun. And I was so glad to read in the comments that those who participated had fun in the process. I had fun looking at all of your pictures. Some of them were hysterical.

In the not so fun department, I spent the last few hours (seriously! I invested serious time) figuring out our top nine "survivors" who will go on to compete in Amateur Gourmet Survivor 2004. It was indeed very close. I was equal parts stringent and generous, being a stickler for the horny melon (durians didn't count) but eager to award points for creativity (see Harry and Catherine's posts). In the end, I think our nine contestants earned their positions in the Top Nine and will provide a perfect group dynamic to engage us for nine weeks. And so, without further ado, I present (in descending order of pointage), your Amateur Gourmet Survivor contestants for 2004:

Hailing from Toronto, Canada, ay, Wendy "learned to cook from [her] dad, but no formal training was included." She can "follow recipes but [doesn't] know which spices match what food combinations." She is pictured above with her Ben Affleck celebrity potato. You can see the rest of her scavenger hunt here. Congratulations Wendy, you've done your province proud.

Despite her name, Dallas comes to us from Bloomington, Indiana and has the added advantage of being my former comrade in middle school. (Don't worry, no favoritism here. She stuffed me in a gym locker). According to Dallas, she cooks "well enough that it's edible if you add enough ketschup." You can see her scavenger hunt on her homepage here. Will Dallas win the Amateur Gourmet Dynasty? Stay tuned! (Admit that was clever.)

Call him the Israeli underdog (he's the somewhat less hairy one above), Harry took his home state disadvantage and made a masterpiece of scavenger hunt photography (see, for example, his horny melon). Harry "fell in love with cooking about six years ago" and calls himself "the master of the grill" since he knows "when to use direct heat and when to use indirect heat." Check out the rest of his photo album here. Keep shmaltzing it up, Harry!

Like Alec Baldwin and yours truly, Andrea hails from Long Island, New York and has a penchant for irritating Starbucks employees (see above photo). (Just kidding, you know that got her 10 points, don't you?) Andrea "likes to think [she's] a good cook" but "it does not always work out as planned." No matter, you can savor her verve and wit with the rest of her photo album. But we're not fooled...we can't wait to see this Long Island Lolita growl.

Like Harry, Catherine faced a home state disadvantage (she's in Singapore) (which isn't in and of itself a disadvantage, only in regards to an Americocentric scavenger hunt) and turned lemons into lemonade with a spectacular array of photos. Pictured above, she stages a jello wrestling match between an armless-skeleton and "overdressed-for-tropical-climate man." (See the rest of her photos here.) Catherine's only cooked for a couple of years, but if she applies even half the ingenuity she invested in her photo album, she'll be in great shape--putting the zing back in Zingapore. (Hey, it's 2:39 and I've got 4 more peeps to go...)

Despite his late-in-the-game entry (well not that late, but a full 10 points late), Nick came ahead with an impressive array of photos. Hailing from Philadelphia, PA (home of the liberty bell), Nick "made scrambled eggs at age 7, didn't cook until [he] tried making cookies at 13, burned [his] hand, didn't touch a stove until 17, made fajitas at 17 and [has] been a FORCE for the past 5 years making all sorts of kitchen disasters go from 'theoretical' to 'full-fledged real disaster.'" Well, that's the spirit, Nick--disaster is the Amateur Gourmet's middle name! Check out the rest of his album here. And watch out for tricky Nick---disaster spelled backwards is "he'll beat you at Survivor."

Michelle, ma belle--she does the Amateur Gourmet pose, very well! Coming to us from "Seattleish, WA" she has "no formal cooking training" and "mom only taught her how to scramble eggs" so that makes her "self-taught." No matter! Michelle not only wowed us with her scavenger hunt, she also found the oldest issue of Gourmet and won an additional 10 points (the issue was from 8/96). We trust that Michelle won't let her success get to her head and usurp The Amateur Gourmet title, since she's already dressed for it. Or will she?

8. FAE
First there was Tammy Faye, and then there was Fae. One a fallen evangelical star, the other the owner of a Culinary Institute of America t-shirt which she bought at a thrift store and wears to make herself feel like she knows what she's doing. Fae came at her scavenger hunt full force and even posed nude for it. (I'll let you find that photo on your own!) You can see her album here and who knows what else we might see before the contest is through!

Last, but certainly not least, we have Amanda, who made her way into the Top Nine by two points! But no matter. Once you're in, you're in--and she's in like Flynn. She comes to us from my old haunt, Atlanta, GA, and she cooks--according to her--all right. "Usually," she says, "I just talk on the phone to my mom the whole time and she tells me what to do. I can bake great, though!" Well put your flour where your mouth is girl! And get ready to step up, because Gourmet Survivor is about to begin. Enjoy the rest of her album here.

And that's it, folks. To all of those who participated but didn't make the Top Nine, thanks so much for taking the time--and I hope you had fun in the process. It really was a very close race. And to all our winners--congrats! And get ready. Wednesday night you will receive your first challenge and you will have until Sunday to complete it. More information to come. Until then, extinguish your tiki torches and try to catch some zzzs.


I am going to have to cheer for Wendy, since she is from Ontari-ari-ari-o. Which makes me think of go-go-go-man-go (from Roll out the barrel - a song associated with Oktoberfest, which also takes place in Ontario).

Okay, too excited...must go back to bed...must not fret about noisy new power supply that is supposed to be quiet, or the progress of my bittorrent downloads of six feet under and season 7 of good eats...



Best of luck to everyone.

congratulations to all of the competitors! I can't wait to see their first challenge!

Go Wendy! Do us proud as the sole Canuck in the challenge.

PS - AG - It is eh, not ay.


Woohoo :) This is gonna be so much fun.

Lemon, I'm also a Canuck--I haven't lived there in 7 years, but I'm a citizen--so fear not, Canada's well represented ;)

Even better! Go Wendy and Catherine!

Such imaginative survivors! It's such a shame that only one of you will be the top survivor. Good luck to all!

What time is it?! GAME TIME!!! Team Canada in da hizouse! does one leverage pre-game favoritism by commenting Canadians, former Canadians and Canadophiles...?

Perhaps I will share with them that I enjoy the music of Spirit of the West, Moxy Fruvios, The Tea Party and the Tragically Hip. And every now and then I can do with a nice power pop ditty by Sloan. Yes, that should do it.

Ok, Harry, while you don't get points in my book for the Tea Party, I will amend my last comment to:

Go Wendy! Go Catherine! Go Harry!

Good luck to all 9! I look forward to watching Gourmet Survivor 2004!

Yay Catherine! Go Singapore!

Is Taco John's local? I've heard there is one in Manhattan, but the only one I know of is Lincoln.

Wendy Wendy she's our girl
if she can't do it no one wirll.

Except maybe one of the other 9.

Best of Luck!

and who knows what else we might see before the contest is through!

I'm hoping for some sort of cupcake/breast challenge.

OK, maybe not. I mean, Harry seems like a swell guy and all, but...


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