Hailing from Pikeville, a small town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky, Corey Charles grew up favoring comfort foods. He tips his hat to his Mama, though, for wearing the master chef hat in the family for that niche, and currently enjoys experimenting with French and Italian classic cuisine. His open-minded approach to cooking make creating fusions of different culinary styles his forte. Don’t be surprised if you find Nicaraguan and Kenyan food influences in his MasterChef creations.
Corey, What was your primary inspiration or motivation for competing for a spot on Master Chef?
An inspiration for the competition was believing I could do it. That I could actually get there. I wanted to do it for my grandmother, who taught me the basics and instilled a love for cooking in me, my Mom, who has always been there for me and my Pops, who busts his hump everyday to provide a nice life for us. I even wanted to do it for my dog – just because he’s my little vacuum cleaner in the kitchen. I’m a dreamer, so in my world the possibilities are endless.
If the competition gets tough, what would say is your go-to recipe?
My absolute favorite recipe right now is almost shamefully simple. Sweet potato, shredded roasted chicken, wilted kale or spinach with onion and bacon, and a homemade Paleo diet friendly BBQ sauce. You can season the chicken and greens differently each time, so you’ll never have the same meal twice. It’s great and works with a busy lifestyle.
What are three ingredients you absolutely have to have in your kitchen?
1. Fresh herbs. Any and every. It’s the easiest way to add freshness and brightness to your dishes and you can grow them yourself practically anywhere.
2. Hot sauce. I’m always experimenting with different types, so I don’t have any particular brand loyalty (although I always try to keep it local).
3. Wine. Anytime you have a bottle go off because you don’t finish it, NEVER THROW IT AWAY. Put it next to the stovetop and whenever you have a sauce or a marinade you want to pep up, toss a little wine in it. It adds an unexpected depth of flavor.
What’s one thing we would be surprised to find in your kitchen?
Don’t tell my great aunt, but her bread maker haha! I love it for fresh loaves as well as Paleo friendly bread made from almond meal, which is actually really simple and tasty.
What do you feel your biggest strengths will be during the competition? What will give you the edge to win?
My biggest strengths are definitely my wit, ability to think on my feet, and by readiness to learn. I think my creativity will give me the biggest edge as a competitor. I’m not afraid to be bold as brass.Host and award-winning chef Gordon Ramsay, restaurateur Joe Bastianich and acclaimed chef Graham Elliot return for Season Five of MASTERCHEF, premiering on FOX Monday, May 26 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) 30 contestants representing 14 states will compete for the MasterChef title.
Corey Charles is one of two contestants from Kentucky.