Mustoe explores her passion for cooking through “Top Chef Amateurs”


Bravo TV

Mustoe will appear on Bravo’s “Top Chef Amateurs” airing July 8

Keertana Gangireddy, Co-Managing Editor

Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” is one of the most watched cooking shows in the United States. Millions tune in to the competition, watching both professional and home chefs participate in intense challenges and interact with some of the nation’s most revered culinary experts.

WA business teacher, yearbook advisor, and Varsity Softball Coach Gina Mustoe was chosen to compete in 2021’s season of Bravo’s “Top Chef Amateurs”. After filming in the fall of 2020 in Oregon, the show will air for the country to watch on July 1 at 9 PM ET.

Cooking and food have both been a large presence in Mustoe’s life since she was a little girl. Growing up in an Italian family, she recounts spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Although she started her cooking career doing smaller tasks, she developed a passion for the craft, fueled by the guidance of her mother and grandparents.

“I wouldn’t be the cook I am today without their influence, and it’s funny because when I make gnocchi, or when I make a pork chop, [my grandparents] are almost there with me in the kitchen,” Mustoe said.

Through cooking, Mustoe has learned to be a good listener, as well as to respect the ingredients and processes of a recipe. These skills are highlighted in her approach to creating a new dish: she follows the recipe to the letter the first time, and then in the subsequent attempts, she ventures out of her comfort zone and makes it her own.

Moreover, Mustoe decided to participate in “Top Chef Amateurs” not for the spotlight, but to further explore her passion. She describes her decision to act upon the opportunity as a “no brainer” when it came up during the pandemic.

“I have watched food television for so many years, and I have mad respect for what these chefs do, especially with the time constraints and the challenges that have been put in front of them. And, there’ve been several times when I’m sitting on the couch going, ‘I could do that,’” Mustoe said. 

To prepare for the competition, she watched several episodes of “Top Chef” to gain a sense of what makes others successful in the show, and then she brought those skills to her own kitchen to challenge herself.

Now, as the show is soon to air, Mustoe remarks that several people in the Westford community are recognizing her and asking her about the opportunity.

“It’s wonderful that I’m able to have new relationships and conversations with people that I never really had [the chance to have] a one-on-one conversation with,” Mustoe said. 

Among the many who are proud of Mustoe for competing in “Top Chef Amateurs” is WA History Teacher Richard McHugh, who has tried Mustoe’s cooking on several occasions.

“I think it is phenomenal that Mrs. Mustoe made the cut to participate in a televised show. She sets a great example of the importance of pursuing one’s passion, and I know that this is something that she has been working toward for a few years,” McHugh said.

Mustoe says that the process of competing has changed a lot about her as a person for the better. To those who aspire to pursue their passions, she advises people to move outside of their comfort zone and just go for it. 

“If [cooking] is something that you have passion for and you want to challenge yourself, I highly recommend giving [participating in a culinary competition] a try. It’s indescribable how the entire process has changed my outlook, my attitude, and my whole appreciation for taking something you’re passionate about [to the next level],” Mustoe said.